Saturday, December 12, 2009

Invictus: Rugby Diplomacy

True Confessions: The Movie Slut does not kiss the ground Clint Eastwood walks on. Don't get her going on Million Dollar Baby, a movie as subtle as Lady Gaga's getups.
So here we have Clint giving us the story of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first post-apartheid leader, as he struggles to unite his country after decades of corrosive racial division.
How did Clint do?
Well, Mandela did better. Still, Invictus isn't an all-out dud. After a stiff, uninspired beginning, the movie heats up to captivate viewers at the end.
Mandela hits on the brilliant scheme to have the South African rugby team do the diplomatic work. Matt Damon is superb as the team captain with top-notch leadership skills of his own. (He also nailed the South African accent, something that eluded Morgan Freeman as Mandela.)
The Movie Slut was confused by some poor musical choices until the credits revealed the cloying tunes were composed by Clint & family. As for the name of the film, she had to Google Invictus to learn it's the Victorian poem that comforted Mandela during his 27 years in prison.
Look for Oscar nominations galore. Maybe even a few wins. The Movie Slut is alone in her coolness for Clint.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brothers: Trading Places

The Movie Slut almost skipped this one. First there was the cheesy trailer. Then the dopey critics. They hated it.
The Movie Slut, on the other hand, was intrigued. This is no Cain and Abel do-over as some suggested. It's a thoughtful movie with a riveting theme.
OK, so there are two brothers, Sam (Tobey Maguire) and Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal.) The good and the bad. Sam goes to war (Afghanistan) and is seriously messed up in the head. Tommy comes out of prison and finds his better self.
But what this uneven melodrama is really about is choices and decisions. What would you do to save your life? That's the decision Sam has to make.
To be fair to the critics, the movie contains some pretty lame acting from the usually excellent Maguire, Natalie Portman and Sam Shepard. The MS chose to overlook this because Brothers is an apolitical anti-war movie. Timely.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Me and Orson Welles:

The time is 1937. The place is New York City. The man is a young, pre-War-of-the- Worlds Orson Welles, who's staging his first production — Julius Caesar — at the Mercury Theater.
The Me in this delightful period dramady/coming of age movie is 17-year-old Richard Samuels, played by teen heartthrob Zac Efron, proving that he really can act.
Claire Danes is the love interest.
The movie is based on a book by Robert Kaplow, a bona fide Welles expert. And it shows. The movie works for the Movie Slut on so many levels. She enjoyed the profile of the larger-than-life, ego maniac as well as the Shakespearean play within the play, the glamorous 1930s wardrobe and the irresistible soundtrack. Gershwin galore.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Everybody's Fine: You betcha!

The bull is no longer raging and he's not driving a taxi any more. In fact, he now travels the not so mean streets on a Greyhound bus.
Still, Robert de Niro has retained his star power and he's positively brilliant in this quiet, moving flick. (Bring Kleenex.)
De Niro IS Frank Goode — everyman and every father. As a recent widower he's learning to deal with the details of life that were once his wife's balliwick. He's pretty good at gardening and vacuuming, but when it comes to connecting with his four grown children, well, not so much.
De Niro is helped by strong performances from Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell. But this is his movie. And he's more than fine.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Up in the Air: High Clooney

"Up in the Air" is a movie that proves The Donald isn't the only one who utters those two freaking words.
Meet Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a corporate downsizer who's paid big bucks to travel the country and say "You're fired," albeit in a kinder and gentler manner. And he does it very well, thank you, until a company decision to further impersonalize the process leads, the Movie Slut won't give that away.
Based on book of the same title by Walter Kirn, this is a movie with brains, edge and a third finger — pointing upwards — on the pulse of 21st-century America.
It does unravel into implausibility at the end, which the Movie Slut learned was a departure of the book. Still, don't miss this one, if only as a primer on how to tackle those heinous airport security lines.

Men Who Stare At Goats: Loony Clooney

"Worst movie evah!" said one of the Movie Slut's friends.
Oh, really?
MS loved this flick, which brought a Vietnam War sensibility to the Iraqi conflict. How else to address the absurdities of war?
What you get here — if you choose to see this movie — is a group of guys in a special army unit that brings "paranormal powers" to the battlefield and lots of pot and hallucinogens, too. You also get loony Clooney and Jeff Bridges reprising his role from "The Big Lebowski."
If you dug the Big L, you'll groove on this flick, too. That's a promise.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

2012: Mayan Shmayan

The world is coming to an end — again. Will movie makers ever tire of hokey apocalyptic flicks? The Movie Slut sincerely hopes not.
So here we go: The requisite early meager character development; the looming danger; the Earth-destroying event(s); the flight; the desperation; the displays of selfishness and humanity; the ultimate resolution when the good guys win to begin life all over again with the hope they've learned from their mistakes. Yeah, right!
Come to think of it, isn't this "Groundhog Day" all over again?
This time doom was predicted by the Mayan calendar and Jake Gyllenhaal is the misunderstood man who saves the day — and the Earth while he's at it.
2012 has more edge-of-your-seat moments than a woman in a Christian Lacroix pouf dress and it won't fit into your closet either.

Broken Embraces: It ain't broke

Director Pedro Almodovar knows what women want. And ever since "Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," he's been giving it to us.
Penelope Cruz is back in his new flick after her boffo performance in "Volver" and she steals the show in this twisting, swirling love story mystery about raging jealousy, raging ambition and raging lust. (Oh, yes, he knows what men want, too.)
As usual with Almodovar, there's nothing tepid on the screen. Zoom, don't walk, to your nearest theater and while you're at it, do rent "High Heels," the Movie Sluts fave Almodovar flick.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pirate Radio: Fun, fun, fun 'til...

The 1960s: A great musical moment? Or, the greatest musical moment ever?
The movie slut chooses the latter with apologies to Mozart and Beethoven.
Has music ever been so insane, frenetic, fierce, liberating, energizing and life affirming?
Pirate Radio, a British flick with all the usual characters — (Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost) where's Hugh Grant? — attempts to capture this time when rock was roaring and the British government banned it from the airwaves sending a ragtag team of rock-a-holics to the high seas to broadcast.
The movie succeeds when it moves on land to capture the madness of listeners caught up in the greatest musical moment — ever. In case you're interested, this soundtrack is on the Movie Slut's holiday wish list.

An Education: Not your father's Lolita

She's 16. He's 36 — give or take.
She's in high school. He's a man of a glam and shady world.
Sound familiar?
This girl-meets-older-guy flick defies the stereotype. Set in London, circa 1962, Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is no victim of David's (Peter's Sarsgaard) advances.
It may not be PC, but there's truth on the screen and super actors.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Serious Man: Seriously Side-splitting

The Coen brothers had the Movie Slut at "The Big Lebowski." Now, they have her falling off her seat laughing — again.
Meet Larry Gopnik, college prof, family man, observant Jew and all around nice guy. Too bad life has turned him into Mr. Job Kafka, victim of an absurd universe.
Larry's neighbor is a redneck, gun-toting goy. His wife has taken up with a smarmyesque Sen. Joe Leiberman clone. And his teen-age kids. Oy vey!
All he wants is an answer to the big question: WHAT IN THE NAME OF YAHWEH IS GOING ON?
Larry's odyssey for answers is the heart, soul and funny bone of this comedie noir.
Hint: Pay special attention to the wise words spoken by Rabbi No. 3.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story: Greed ain't good

She laughed. She cried. She cursed like only a slut can do.
Michael Moore had the Movie Slut right where he wanted her: Sitting in a seat in her local multiplex bowled over (not a reference to "Bowling for Columbine") by his latest documentary.
Okay, so she knows he's a spinmeister. And he's been known to play loose and free with the facts. And sure, he's a Drama King, who'll stop at nothing to inject a punch of vitality to his flicks. Still, anyone who's been on this planet in the last year knows his central thesis is correct.
Capitalism caught a crummy bug and has spread it to the rest of us.
The Movie Slut was engrossed every second of this movie but still has a quibble with the title. As Moore himself points out, Capitalism was chugging along beautifully until the greedy 1980s rolled around. (Check out "Wall Street" with Michael Douglas if you need a reminder.)
So, isn't it greed that is to blame? Why can't we go back to the old Capitalism, which worked so well until a certain Movie Star president rode into office?
Moore doesn't explain this but he does a yeoman's job of convincing viewers that we can't let the forces of greed hijack our country. And he does it with heart, soul and the inimitable Moore sense of humor.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Coco Before Chanel: Oo la la!

So, the Movie Slut ran into a large editor-at-large, who shall remain nameless.
"There's nothing interesting about Coco before Chanel," he insisted. "She's only interesting after she became Chanel."
He has a point.
Still, the Movie Slut thoroughly enjoyed this orphanage-to-haute couture biopic, even if adorable Audry Tautou was miscast as the smile-averse Coco.
Who could resist bearing witness to the birth of the Little Black Dress? Who wouldn't kill to be there when our heroine notices the chic-potential of fishermen's shirts? And voila, jersey!
Will you adore this movie?
Only if you're a rabid fashionista. The Movie Slut hopes you are.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bright Star: A thing of beauty

Bright Star, Australian director Jane Campion's latest gift to movie-goers, outshines anything The Movie Slut has seen at the multiplex for ...well, as long as she can remember.
You got your poetry. You got your music. Mozart! You got your period costumes. You got scenery. Lush and swoon-worthy.
As poet John Keats, the subject of this biopic, might say, It is a movie of sensations rather than thought, though those who wish to think about the fragility of life and the frustrations of love in a time of tuberculosis can ruminate to their brain's content.
Bright Star is a joy, if not forever, than at least for one hour and fifty-nine minutes.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Love Happens: Good Grief!

Attention Movie-Goers: "Love Happens," the new flick staring Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart, is not — NOT — a romantic comedy.
Why were the folks interviewed by the Movie Slut at her local multiplex under that misconception?
Could be because Aniston and Eckhart are bigtime rom-com alum. And, oh yes, the title.
The truth is that this movie is about a decidedly unfunny subject: Grief.
Eckhart, a psychologist mourning the death of his wife, writes a book about dealing with grief and is on the verge of becoming a brand — DVDs, talk show appearance and the rest of the nonsense.
Trouble is, his grief is still raw and wretched.
Meanwhile, Aniston, who's screwed up in her own way, happens along and helps him take baby steps in the direction of healing.
Does this movie have anything profound to say about life after loss?
The movie slut isn't sure. But it is a profoundly sad movie sprinkled with amusing moments. Knowing that might help movie-goers.
Despite what the critics say, Aniston and Eckhart do click in this flick. But the real love story here is with the city where it's filmed. Seattle manages to be lovely even with all the tears pouring down from its skies.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Informant! Not my exclamation point

Much has been made of the low-rent rug perched atop Matt Damon's head in The Informant!, the new flick in which he stars as F.B.I. whistle-blower Mark Whitacre.
What's a gazillion times more interesting is this question: What the freaking heck is going on inside Whitacre's head!?
Is he bipolar? Does he have Attention Deficit Disorder? Is he what we used to call a liar, liar pants on fire?
Expect an amusement park whip of a movie in which you're shot in and out of the dark.
The Movie Slut was put off by the 1950s look and sound of the movie, which is set in the 1990s. And the music! She thinks it works to hard (like an exclamation point!) to signal audiences that director Steven Soderbergh is worried they might not find this funny, hence the slapstick soundtrack.
The Movie Slut also suggests a serious examination of Whitacre's wife Ginger. Should this movie be titled The Enabler!?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

9: Is it a 10?

9 and 5 want to save 2. But 1 says, "Don't even think about that."
8, a big galoot, is on 1's side.
3 and 4 are twins and blithe spirits willing to go with the flow. 7 is a magical force — brave and beautiful. 6 draws strange designs. Or was that 8?
So, does all this add up in 9's eponymous flick?
Strangely, the answers is yes.
The Movie Slut thinks you should also know that these numerical beings are animated and look as if they're made of fabric swatches stitched together with knitting wool. Their story plays out in a post-apocalyptic world that resembles a never-ending junk heap. And that's all she'll say about that.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Extract: A film without flavor

Never underestimate the power of a push-up bra.
Never overestimate the depths of male naivety.
Drugs aren't for everyone.
The Movie Slut can't say she didn't learn anything from the new Mike Judge film "Extract" and she did cotton to Jason Bateman as the downtrodden Everyman and Ben Affleck as his hirsute sidekick. But this screwball comedy, with too many unfunny jokes about balls and screwing, had her yearning for better days. Like when Judge gave her an ingenious, inspired, hilarious movie called "Office Space."
So, dear slutettes, skip the multiplex this time. Go to Blockbuster or Netflix and rent "Office Space." It's like an old lover who never lets you down.

All About Steve: But more about Mary

There’s something about Mary Magdalene Horowitz. Other than her name.

Is it Asperger’s syndrome? Or simply a severe case of uber-geekiness? Whatever.

In “All About Steve,” which stars Sandra Bullock, the Mary in question is a brainiac crossword creator, whose verbal IQ far outweighs her people skills. She doesn’t converse. She monologues. She’s a master of trivia but just doesn’t get human relationships.

Enter Steve (Bradley Cooper) and let the fun begin.

“All about Steve” is a celebration of eccentricity. It poses the question: Isn’t being “normal” grossly overrated?

Critics didn’t care for the flick. One called it “a grimly unfunny comedy.” But the Movie Slut wasn’t the only one laughing out loud at the multiplex. The movie isn’t pitch perfect but the off moments are few. And you’ve got to love the quirkiness of the crossword puzzle as metaphor for life.

Look for an excellent supporting performance by Thomas Haden Church and some unexpected cameos. No, the Movie Slut won’t give them away. Even she has her standards. And do perk up your ears for some hysterically funny musical moments.