Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Identical: The King's Brother

Blake Rayne is Ryan Wade & Drexel Hemsley
What if Elvis's twin brother didn't die at birth? What if he were adopted by Ray Liotta (a preacher man)  and Ashley Judd (his pious wife)? What if his real name was Drexel Hemsley?

What if a silly movie was able to gyrate past foolishness and grab you by the heartstrings?

That's what The Identical does by being earnest, loving and ultimately lovable.

Unfortunately, no real Elvis music is played in this film and the substitutes don't come close to the electrifying songs. Still, Blake Rayne's impersonation is first rate.

If I Stay: The Staycation from Hell

Chloƫ Grace Moretz is Mia, a teen wrestling with the big question.

"To be or not to be" is the question Mia ponders in this four-tissue YA date flick. And not only does she echo Hamlet, she also sees a ghost. Not her father, the king, but herself, a musically gifted high school girl.

Despite the similarities, this movie is more Sparkian —as in Nicholas— than Shakespearean, even if the protagonist is haunted and conflicted and pondering a life-or-death decision.

It all starts on a winter day. School is called off, which means Mia's dad, who is a teacher, is getting a snow day, too. Her mother calls in sick and the family is together. So what do they do? Despite snow so heavy that schools are closed, they pile in the car and head out for a ride.

The Movie Slut found this stupidity difficult to ignore. Still, the movie had its appeal thanks to Mia's parents, who are grownup hippies, and her love for music, which brings Beethoven to the sidetrack.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

When the Game Stands Tall: Winning isn't Everything

True story. And that's the problem.

This flick about a high school football team on a winning streak should have scored a  touch down. Alas, it's barely a first down.

It stars Jim Caviezel as legendary couch Bob Ladouceur of the Northern California Spartans and judging from Caviezel's performance, Ladouceur must have been a pretty dour character. Still, his values are laudable. He's more concerned with molding future citizens than creating current heroes. The movie suffers from another problem, too. Sometimes reality needs a bunch of tweaking to create the dramatic ark needed for a winning film.

But the message for young people is a fine one. Let's hope they can sit through the dull parts. 

The Trip To Italy: Steve and Rob's Tiepido Adventure

The degree to which you enjoy this lackluster buddy flick depends on how big a fan you are of comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. As a followup to their 2010 flick, The Trip, in which they travel the English Lake District, the friends now tool around the Italian coast, eating, joking and doing impressions of other actors, including Michael Caine, Al Pacino and Marlon Brandow.

For those who find the two eminently yawnable, there is beautiful cinematography, awe inspiring Verdi music and the occasional quote from Keats and Shelly.

The Movie Slut felt like she was on date with the boring guy who orders a zillion courses forcing her to sit and smile unenthusiastically. Yeah. This is a buddy flick about two guys who think they're so much more interesting than they are.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The November Man: He's no 007.

Pierce Brosnan is the November man.

Take James Bond. Now, hold the martinis, tuxedos and nifty gizmos. What do you get?

The November Man, so named because after he moves through, nothing is left alive.

That could also be said about the brain cells of movie-goers. Unless, you lean back, chomp on popcorn and don't try to actually understand what's happening onscreen.

Imagine that you're suffering from a wicked case of  jet lag.

The opening of this high-voltage action flick zooms from Montenegro to Switzerland to Russia to Croatia and on and on.

Where's 007 when you need him?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Giver: Get the Message

Brenton Thwaites, as Jonas, the Memory Keeper in training.

You've seen it before. Think Brave New World,  for starters.  A society devoid of bad human characteristics also robs ciizens of the good stuff. Especially memories.

It's a tradeoff the elders are willing to take. As for the young, well, they don't know what they're missing...until.

The Movie Slut almost skipped this one. "Been there, seen that," she mumbled as she forked over her frequent movie-goer's card. She exited the theater singing a different tune.

Excellent performances by Meryl Streep, as the elder-in-charge, and Jeff Bridges, as the sole memory keeper in the community, enrich this flick.

But it's young Jonas's awakening to the horrors and beauty of genuine human existence that makes this movie worth seeing.

If only, as a society, we could react to the senseless murders committed daily the way Jonas experiences them in the movie. Then, maybe we'd see change.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The One Hundred Foot Journey: A Trip Worth Taking

Manish Dayal and Helen Mirren stir up some treats and trouble.

Predictability was never as picturesque.

In this feel-good movie of the summer, which takes place in a vintage French village in the south of France, Helen Mirren is the snooty proprietress of a renown restaurant famous for classical cuisine.

Imagine her consternation when an Indian patriarch purchases the property across the street and opens a restaurant where spice trumps subtlety.

The clash of cultures takes on a romantic note when Papa's son, a brilliantly talented chef, falls for a fetching young sous chef working in Madame Mallory's kitchen.

The One Hundred Foot Journey is like a perfect souffle. It's light and frothy, with just the right amount of spice. And it never falls flat.