Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Homesman: Stay Home

"Why do they make movies like this?" a young man shouted out at the end of this tedious flick. He may have poor impulse control (He also commented loudly during the trailers.), but he asked a great question.

And the only answer the Movie Slut could think of was that Tommy Lee Jones was in need of a vanity project. He not only stars in this dud, but he's also the director and co-writer.

The real question is how the wonderfully talented Hilary Swank got sucked into this clunker.

So what's it about? The nutshell plot: Three pioneer women slide into insanity due to their hardscrabble existences. Mary Bee (Swank) must take them back east. On the way she meets lowlife drifter (Jones) as well as Indians, etc., etc., etc, etc., etc., etc.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Big Hero Six: A Ten

BH6 is the most charming and emotionally involving  animated film to arrive on the big screen since Up. Based on a Marvel comic, it takes place in San Fransokyo and is named for the six characters who team up to fight the bad guys.

Clearly the most lovable, hugable of the six is Baymax, a giant marshmallow of a robot who's programmed to be a health care companion. The job description is a long way from crime fighter and much of the fun in this delightful flick comes from Baymax having to rationalize his actions to conform to his program.

See this movie. If you don't have children, borrow some.

Charlie, 7, "loved" the movie because it had "lots of gadgets and stuff" and is "really funny."
Annie, 9, said, "I like it becuse I liked how the robot was programmed to help people."

You will, too.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Whiplash: All That Jazz

What does it take to be the best?

A ton of talent. Oodles of ambition. More than a sprinkle of sacrifice.  Blood, sweat and tears. Literally. And a healthy dose of OCD.

That's a given in this movie about Andrew, a young drummer (Miles Teller), who's a student at New York City's preeminent music college. (If you can make it there...)

But does he also need a lunatic mentor, who drives his students, particularly Andrew, with the crazed brutality of a marine boot camp sergeant?

Whiplash is one of the most difficult films to watch. Despite some obnoxious behavior (after all, Andrew is still a teen), the Movie Slut worried  her way through this flick. After all, one of the mentor's (J.K. Simmons) former students was driven to his death.

The two most horrible words in the English language, he tells Andrew, are "good job."

Will Andrew survive his mentor? Or will he be crushed in the process? This riveting movie goes back and forth so many times, you're likely to get whiplash

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Imitation Game: Copy That

The Movie Slut will see any flick Benedict Cumberbatch is in. And she's never disappointed. The dude's one fine actor and chooses his projects well.

In this based-on-a-true-life story, he's Alan Turing, the real-life brilliant mathematician who helped to end World War II without stepping onto Normandy Beach or any other battle zone for that matter. It was his job to break the Nazi's Enigma Code, which enabled the Allies to stay one step ahead of the enemy.

As usual, Cumberbatch is sensational in his role and so is Keira Knightly, who's the only female on his crackerjack team and serves as a reminder of the treatment of women in those dark ages.

Sadly, Turing's life ended tragically in 1954. You'll have to see this flick to learn why.

Rosewater: This Movie By Any Other Name...

Yes, this is Jon Stewart's directorial debut.

Now that that's out of the way, we can move on.

Rosewater is the story of an Iranian-born Canadian journalist who was imprisoned in Iran for 118 days in 2009. It's a compelling story well told, based on the memoir, Then They Came for Me, by Maziar Bahari, who was accused of being a spy. 

Stewart, who also wrote the screenplay, has another connection to the story. But you'll have to see the movie to learn what that was. You'll definitely want to see this! Kafka is probably laughing in his grave.

The movie, which takes its name from the cologne liberally sprinkled by Maziar's top interrogator, is not like any other prison flick you've seen. But then it wouldn't be because...well, you know who the director is.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Green Prince: An Odd Couple

  Mosab Hassan Yousef stares into the camera. His father is a founder of Hamas, the radical Palestinian group responsible for terrorist attacks on Israel.

The camera shifts and Gonen ben Yitzhak appears on the screen. He's an operative with Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.

By all rights, the two should be sworn enemies bent on mutual destruction. But that is not the story that unfolds in The Green Prince, a remarkable documentary from Israeli filmmaker Nadav Schirman.

Without giving away the entire movie, which should be seen by everyone, these two men rise above the angry politics and brutality that surrounds them in Israel and Gaza to reveal what can happen when people break the cycle of hate and brutality, which threatens to destroy them and generations to come.

The Green Prince isn't a film about Israelis and Palestinians. It's a movie about two men and celebrates the bravery of intelligent individuals who think and act outside the crushing boxes to which they've been assigned.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Citizenfour: Traiter? Wistleblower? Patriot? Spy?

Who is Edward Snowden? A whistleblower? A spy? A traitor? A patriot?

You can make up your own mind after seeing this riveting documentary.

The story begins when documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras receives an encrypted email. In Hong Kong, she meets the sender, Edward Snowden, a computer professional working as a National Security Agency contractor. He not only talks about a massive surveillance program that's secretly spying on citizens at home and abroad, he has thousands of classified documents to back this up.

Journalist Glen Greenwald joins the team and they discuss publishing some of this information.
As you know, the rest is recent history.

We learn that the surveillance program was begun after 9/11. It's understandable that the country would beef up its efforts to find terrorists before they strike again. But it's now more than a decade later and the overreach is enormous.

The Movie Slut remembers the smear campaign that erupted when Snowden's identity was revealed. He's nothing like the dimwit he was portrayed to be. Whether you approve or disapprove of what he did, this film reveals him as a thoughtful, intelligent young man who believes that privacy is an inalienable right for those living in a democracy.