Sunday, October 14, 2018

Bad Times At The El Royal

Jon Hamm, Lewis Pullman & Cynthia Erivo
The Movie Slut had a love/hate/love relationship with this Coen Brothers-meet-Quentin Tarantino movie.

She loved the first and last thirds of the flick. In the middle, she contemplated walking out.

The story revolves around seven strangers who arrive at a run-down hotel on the California/Nevada border. They share one thing in common. They all have dark pasts. Except maybe John Hamm, who's a federal agent investigating who knows what? Hamm is the only actor with a comic edge in the movie and MS thinks it would have benefited if others were equally quirky.

Still in the end, it all comes together quite beautifully, and is greatly enriched by the soulful performance of Cynthia Erivo, a British singer, actress, and Tony Award winner. Also in the excellent cast: Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, and Chris Hemsworth.

The Old Man And The Gun: No Bang

Here's one reason to see this based-on-a-true-story flick: Robert Redford in a fedora.

The story is okay: A guy who committed 17 robberies, went to jail 17 times, and smiled throughout. In this movie, he meets a gal (Sissy Spacek) who, despite her law-abiding ways, falls for him.  But then, he is Robert Redford in a fedora.

In real life, it seems the guy became a bit of a folk hero, but the movie doesn't make much of that. It focuses instead on the detective (Casey Affleck) who can't get a grip on the slippery character.

The Movie Slut wishes this movie about a guy with a gun had more bang.

But then, it does have Robert Redford in a fedora. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Star is Born: Take four

The long-awaited and much ballyhooed fourth remake of the 1937 David O. Selznick film is rich with talent. (*Can you name the other three female leads? Check below.)

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga just might be the best duo in their roles. Still, while the Movie Slut was prepared for a cinematic swoon, it didn't happen.

Gripe No. 1: At 2 hours and 17 minutes it was 20 to 30 minutes too long.
Gripe No. 2: The MS didn't leave the theater humming. Where were the catchy tunes?
Gripe No. 3: While she should have broken down when the sad part happened (no spoiler here), MS was relieved that the flick had mercifully ended.

Many, especially critics, are raving about the movie, but not the MS's companion or two young women seated to her right. She could tell they were bored by the way they yawned and checked their cells.

* Janet Gaynor (1937); Judy Garland (1954); Barbra Streisand (1976).

Colette: The right to write

We meet Colette (Keira Knightley), the girl who would become the foremost French female writer, in 1892. She lives with her parents in the French countryside. We first meet Uncle Willy (Domonic West) when he comes to dinner. We first realize they're lovers when they hook up in the hayloft after dessert.

The couple soon marry. He's a writer/publisher who can't write. She's a writer who doesn't know it. Soon he's publishing her stories under his name. Until she rebels and strikes out on her own.

While the movie could be considered just another story of a man stealing from his talented wife and hogging the accolades, we have to step back and remember that readers of the time were not clamoring to read female writers. We also see how Willy shaped her early stories, published them, and promoted them.

In many ways, Colette was a woman whose lifestyle didn't catch on until the sexual revolution of the 1970s. Her escapades spice up this film about a gal who spends hours behind a desk with a fountain pen in her hands. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Lizzie: Revisiting an infamous murderess

Kristen Stewart & Chloe Sevigny
She gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

We all know the poem more than 120 years after Lizzie Borden offed her parents and got away with it. In this flick, there's no doubt that she did it.

The question is why.

The answers are many, and yet, they don't add up. Lizzie, with Sevigny in the title role, and Stewart as her maid and lover, is a beautiful period piece that doesn't rise to the darkness of the plot. We still don't know what made Lizzie tick. Maybe that's for the best.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Fahrenheit 11/9: More Moore

Michael Moore loves his country.
And he hates and fears what's happening to it.
The way he sees it, there's enough blame to go around.

In his inimitable way, Moore traces Donald Trump's pathway to the presidency, the 45th president's steps to undermine our democracy, and a possible escape route. (Hint: Attention Democrats, VOTE in November.)

At times, brilliant, at times undisciplined, the Movie Slut, who's seen all of Moore's movies and praises them all, thinks this is his best.

Sure at times he's a blowhard. But as David Edelstein of Vulture put it, "the air is blowing hard in the right direction."

Bel Canto: Sing for your supper

Julianne Moore & Maria Mercedes Coroy
We've got a hostage situation.

But one like we've never seen. Captors and captives are held up in an elegant mansion to which fresh food is delivered daily. They even sit down together for a sumptuous dinner party. We hear that the gunmen are not murderers. They're rebels, part of the resistance to a fascist regime in South America whose only demand is the release of political prisoners.

And so it follows, as the unbelievable follows wishful thinking, that captors and captives fall in love, enjoy soccer games and musical evenings with celebrated opera star Roxanne Coss (Julianne Moore channeling the voice of Renee Fleming).

Music is only one of the universal languages in this film, based on a bestseller by Ann Patchett. It's all very utopian, a bit of a fairy tale. And fairy tales have their place on the big screen. In the end this is one worthy of the Brothers Grimm.