Friday, December 31, 2010

Blue Valentine: Sad Love

Love is born and dies in "Blue Valentine," one of the saddest and truest movies the Movie Slut has ever seen. Sadder because of the emotional truth infused into every scene. No Hollywood BS here. And the acting is so pitch perfect that you can't believe they're not the real characters. Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling find and lose love in a small Pennsylvania town and though there's nothing out-of-the-ordinary about their lives, the Movie Slut was lost in their story.
She saw this movie on opening day on the Upper-West-Side of Manhattan, and though it wasn't publicized, writer/director Derek Cianfrance stopped by. He said this movie was in the making for 12 years and was a personal goal for him as a child of divorce.
There are no heroes or villains on the screen. Just real people doing the best they can, which often is not good enough.
Cianfrance said he had the Tom Waits song, "Blue Valentine," in mind when he made the film. Listen and you'll understand the raw emotion behind the movie.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Yogi Bear: A Real Picnic

"I want to see it again." That's what 5-year-old Annie said as the closing credits scrolled down the screen at the end of Yogi Bear. And she did. Now, after two screenings, she has this to say, "I want to see it again."
"This is my favorite movie," she added, though it must be said that "favorite" is one of her favorite words.
Annie says the movie is about "a bear who wants to be a different bear. He steals picnic baskets because he's hungry. The mayor was not that nice. The funniest part is when Yogi dances.
I liked 'Kung Foo Panda,'" Annie says. "But I like 'Yogi Bear' better. It's my favorite."

Black Swan: Deadly Dancing

Bravo Natalie Portman! Without you, this maddening movie would have devolved into nothing more than a Grade-B horror flick. As it was, movie-goers (not the Movie Slut, of course), were giggling in their seats at moments that were clearly meant to be sad and scary.
The story, which loosely follows the arc of ballet classic "Swan Lake," tells the story of a modern-day ballerina (Nina the ballerina — really!), who suffers the same fate as the tragic swan. Along the way, we're treated to every cliche about dancers. Nina is anorexic/bulimic. She's a cutter. She has no life beyond the barre. Her feat are all but destroyed. But her true achille's heel is her pathological perfectionism. Add to this a Mommy Fearist (Barbara Hershey), and Nina is doomed.
The movie follows her leap into madness, one hallucination and self-mutilation at a time. It's "The Nightmare at Lincoln Center."

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Tourist: Talk about Tourist Traps

"Tourist" stars the lips that sink flicks. When they're on the screen, it's difficult to concentrate on anything else. Not that there's much to think about in this decidedly lightweight movie. They morph (we're back to the lips now) from frame to frame. Sometimes it seems as if you can even see the injection site where whatever it is was pumped into Angelina's face.
"Tourist" also stars the talented Johnny Depp, though not much is demanded of him.
The plot, such that it is, revolves around mistaken identity, plastic surgery (that figures) and bunches of stylish guys dashing hither and yon.
Still, there is a shining star onscreen.The city of Venice never looked so alluring. The Movie Slut suggests pretending you're viewing a travelogue with some Hollywood glitterati lurking in the background.

127 Hours: Stuck in the Middle

Here's a movie that has all the makings of a claustrophobic's worst nightmare. And making it more horrifying is the knowledge that it's based on a true story. Aron Ralston was a young adventurous outdoorsman when he slipped into a canyon crevasse in Utah. A falling bolder pinned him in place for guess how many hours.
There you have it, a story that could have movie-goers dashing for the doors. But what makes this movie sing is the expertise of director Danny Boyle and the charisma and acting talents of James Franco.
Add to this, the stunning music, intelligent use of fashbacks and gorgeous cinematography, and the Movie Slut was pinned to her seat as surely as Ralston was trapped in his canyon.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tangled: Scared Silly

Tangled is an animated children's movie and so it seems appropriate for a child to weigh in on its ups and downs. So here's 5-year-old Annie to review this flick.

"It's about a girl," Annie says. "She had long hair. She had a mean mommy. A nice man comes and his name is Flynn. I thought it was a little bit silly," Annie adds of the movie based on the story of Rapunzel. "I think it was a little bit about feelings. I sort of liked the movie, but I didn't like the mommy."
When asked why she insisted on leaving the theater before the movie ended, Annie admits, "It was a little scary."

The Next Three Days: A Great Escape

"Three Days" is like a locomotive picking up steam as it barrels down a mountain. It starts off slow and then, wham!, it's full speed ahead.
What you need to know is this: John is a mild-mannered professor whose wife, Lara, is convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. The audience is left in doubt about whether she's guilty until the very end of the film. But as far as John is concerned, she's innocent and after he's exhausted all legal maneuvers, he takes the only remaining path and springs her.
Suspending with disbelief is difficult for most of the movie. Were there really no other legal avenues? What about the Innocence Project? And then, despite such arguments, the Movie Slut got caught up in the action.
Russel Crowe is perfect in the role of a husband willing to do anything to free his wife. Elizabeth Banks, as Lara, exhibits just the right degree of unconventional spirit to keep us guessing about her guilt or innocence.
The heart-in-your-throat ending makes this flick worth seeing.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Love and Other Drugs: Including Viagra

Despite the title, "Love..." is not a romantic comedy. It's a heart-swelling love story. Boy (Jake Gyllenhaal) meets girl (Anne Hathaway.) He's a drug salesman for Pfizer. She's an artist in the first stage of Parkinson's disease. Since he's shallow and she's sick, keeping it simple is their mutually agreed-upon plan.
But something happens on the way to living for the moment. Let's call it Love.
The movie is about love in the age of prescription mega-medication. It's 1996 and Pfizer's "wonder drug" Viagra has just hit the market, zooming Boy into the big bucks stratosphere. Meanwhile, Girl travels by bus to Canada with a group of senior citizens for more affordable meds.
The movie also takes on doctors, but is kinder to them, showing how they've been beaten down by the System until they've twisted the Hippocratic Oath into "First, make heaps of $."
"Love..." has much to say and could have been a terrific flick, but it's marred by sophomoric moments usually introduced by Boy's loser brother. So not funny. At these times its like being at a lovely concert, sitting next to a person crinkling the cellophane wrapper of her hard candy.
This flick may be uneven. Still, it's well worth seeing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Burlesque: Va-va-va-voom

"Burlesque" is loud, brash and as subtle as a sledgehammer. Does that mean the Movie Slut didn't dig it? Nooooooo. Yes, it's predictable. Yes, it's obvious. Yes, it's as fluffy as cotton candy. But who cares when you have the always endearing Cher and the talented Christina Aguilieri.
You've seen this story a gazillion times before. Small town gal comes to Hollywood to make it big. Her path is riddled with pot holes and road blocks. But — yeah — she makes it!
No gray cells are challenged here. Save them for another flick.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest: Stingingly Good

Oh Lisbeth, how the Movie Slut will miss you! She's followed your journey through three books and now three movies. She believes you are one of the most fascinating characters in modern-day literature and movies. (Depending upon how modern-day and literature are defined.)
In this last installment, you spend much time in a hospital bed after sparring with your evil Dad, who also winds up in hospital. No tears shed for him.
Then, halfway through this leg of your journey, you punch in your piercings, plump up your Mohawk, squeeze into your goth garb and show us what you're made of. Which is not sugar and spice.
The third movie to be based on the late author Steig Larson's Millennium series is a riveting drama, which is all the more surprising since the book took about 200 pages to warm up, inspiring Nora Ephron to write a hilarious lampoon in the New Yorker magazine.
Now, Lisbeth fans must await the American version due out next December and staring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fair Game: A Spy Pushed Into The Cold

Valerie Plame and Naomi Watts

True story:
She was a covert CIA operative. She lived in Washington with her ambassador husband. They had a gracious home and two adorable children. And in 2003, they had the audacity to question the reason for beginning the Iraq War. She was outed. He was discredited. It was an outrage.


Since The Movie Slut wrote this review, she has seen this movie for a second time and has a much higher opinion of it. She now believes it's a film well worth seeing. Not only does it tell the Valerie Plame story but it reveals the inner workings of our government. Maybe the Bushies were more ruthless than most, but as recent Wikileaks documents reveal, what goes on behind the scenes can be fiercely ugly.

The trouble with "Fair Game," the story of Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, is that it's difficult for audiences to feel their pain in the midst of all the other pain involved with the Iraq war — the soldiers who lost their lives, the families who lost their loved ones and the Iraqis who lost lives, loves, homes and country.

Not that this couldn't be done. It just wasn't.

The usually brilliant Naomi Watts underplays her role as the outed Plame. Sean Penn, was given nothing more than a fat cigar around which to mold his character.The family's plight — money troubles, marital turmoil — is also understated. And the Movie Slut wonders why. The only conclusion she can reach is that the real characters had too much sway over what was presented onscreen. One embarrassing real-life moment — when the couple was featured on the glossy cover of Vanity Fair magazine looking all glam in a convertible — was glossed over and the photo completely absent.

As for the villains in this tale — Carl Rove and Scooter Libby — they're depicted as evil-doer caricatures: a blubbery-necked Carl and shifty, ice-eyed Scooter.

We want to love you Val and Joe. We just can't.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Unstoppable: The Little Engine that Could

Denzel Washington and Chris Pine aren't the real stars of this fast, loud, bombastic new movie. Engines 777 and 1206 are. The first is the brash, violent, dangerous, out-of-control (literally) Goliath. The latter is the small, blue underdog that movie-goers will be rooting for.

"Unstoppable" barrels along full speed ahead, with pit stops every now and then to build character for the human performers, aka, the supporting actors. As always, or usually, Washington is eminently likable, as is Pine, especially when he's in full-grin mode.

But this edge-of-the-seat movie belongs to the hunks of metal and steel. Not only the trains, but also the helicopters, trucks, police cars, bridges and tracks that fight to contain the speeding monster.

It's a 5-year-old boy's fantasy. And the Movie Slut loved it, too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Morning Glory: Don't stop to smell this flower

Think of "Morning Glory" as "Broadcast News" lite. Here you have Rachel McAdams as a workaholic TV producer instead of Holly Hunter as a workaholic TV producer. You have a daytime "newsy" show, instead of the hard-hitting evening news. And you have the tug of war between news and entertainment, instead of the competition between an intelligent anchor and a hunky talking head. And instead of a thoughtful, passionate discourse about the importance of an honest news broadcast, you have silly fluff about what viewers really want: soft news or hard-core entertainment.

"Morning Glory" has its fun moments. Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford are deliciously dueling diva anchors and the morning shows are rife with ridiculous material. It's just not funny enough. Or serious enough. A missed opportunity.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tamara Drewe: Luvely


What a difference a nose makes.

That's the first message — only one of many — in this charming, amusing English comedy. Said to be loosey-goosily based on Thomas Hardy's "Far from the Madding Crowd," it seems more like "The Return of the Native," and then there's Gemma Arterton as Tamara, who was Tess in the BBC version of "Tess of the D'Urbevilles."


But enough about the Hardy connection. This fine movie stands on its own. Among other messages are battling ideas about writers, or authors is more like it. Are they truth-tellers or thieves and liars? (Or both?)

The story revolves around a rhinoplastied native, who returns to the English village where she grew up. There her fate becomes entwined with a farmer, an author, a rock star, two bored teenage girls, a bad-tempered canine and a herd of cows.
What could be more fun?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Megamind: Mini-Fun

He's Bad.
Unfortunately, so is the movie. Okay, maybe the Movie Slut is being a bit harsh. It's just that she wanted something for the adults, who accompany the kiddies to this animated flick. Alas, for them, the pickings are slim. (Clearly the voices of Brad Pitt, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell are not enough.)

The only spark of wit for those of voting age is the cartoon spoof of Marlon Brando in his role as Jor-El, the Man of Iron's old man in "Superman Returns."

In other words, "Megamind" is no "Up," no "Shrek," no "Coraline." But the little tykes will get a few giggles in this cautionary tale of good vs. evil. And hopefully — with some help from Mom or Dad — come home with the message: Evil is not born. It's made.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Today's Special: Mmmm Good

On the window of the Indian Restaurant in Queens, N.Y., a sign reads: "Today's Special — Trust Me." Now, the Movie Slut wants you to trust her when she says this movie is worth seeing.

At first blush, it's a film about food and family, and certainly both are featured prominently in this unsophisticated, formulaic, but still delightful flick. But "Today's Special" is more about following your heart, not your head, as you make your way through life.

The movie was written by, and stars, a guy "Daily Show" fans know well, Aasif Mandvi, Comedy Central's "correspondent" for whatever. Actress and cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey is his mother.
"Life has no recipe," is the tagline for this sweet movie about learning to cook — and live — from the gut.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Conviction: When justice fails

"Conviction" is a movie that would fare better with less truth and more truthiness. Which is often the case when films are based on true stories. Sometimes the dramatic arc need a bit of tweaking.
Hilary Swank and Sam Donaldson are marvels as brother and sister, Kenny and Betty Anne Waters, who grew up in one of the grittier areas of Massachusetts. He's wrongfully imprisoned for a murder. She devotes her life to proving his innocence. Great story. Right?
But something was lost in the translation. The Movie Slut didn't get caught up in the drama until near the end of the movie, which should have had her when the prison door slammed shut.
If you're looking for a story with real pathos surrounding wrongful imprisonment, she suggests "Witch Hunt". Full disclosure, her daughter is part of the documentary team that produced this gem.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hereafter: Now & Then

Clint Eastwood doesn't always make the Movie Slut's day.

But Matt Damon usually does. So here they are, director and actor, teaming up to give us a movie about a hokey subject: psychics.
Damon is George, a reluctant clairvoyant, who considers his talent more curse than gift. He is a man alone, separated from the rest of society — "normal" men and women, who live in the here and now, not knowing what the future brings. Oh, how George yearns to be like them.
And it is this yearning, this spot-on performance of a lone outsider, whatever the reason, that will make this movie resonate with viewers. The ordinary life can be so appealing when life takes disastrous turns.
Also appealing is the supporting cast: the luminous Cecile de France and twins, George and Frankie McLaren, who play Marcus, an English schoolboy, who finds that George has the answers he needs.
If "Hereafter" doesn't break your heart, check to see if you have one.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Easy A: That's A for Awesome

"Easy A" isn't the first flick that proves smart and teen movies isn't an oxymoron. We had "Clueless," in 1995, which was based on Jane Austen's novel "Emma." Then in 1999, there was "Election," which had a brain and a funny bone. Now, we're at Ojai High, where Olive Penderghast is a very smart gal, who makes a very dumb decision. No, the Movie Slut won't give it away, but suffice it to say her English class is studying Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic, which also has an "A" in its title.
How can you not love a movie that references Hawthorne and Mark Twain, while harkening back with clips to various teen movies of the 1980s. In fact, there's so much that's intelligent about this movie that it could be scarier to some teens than the "Twilight" flicks.
Emma Stone as Olive, the high school outcast, is perfection, as is the rest of the cast that includes such heavy hitters as Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nowhere Boy: Early John

As any Beatle's fan worthy of her Sgt. Pepper's jacket knows, John Lennon didn't have an ideal childhood. But who knew it was this wacko?
"Nowhere Boy," the new biopic about his teen years, with flashbacks to his childhood, is an entertaining and enlightening flick that tells the story of a family that puts the diss in dysfunctional. These are also the years when the band was created, so we get to meet Paul, George and Ringo, too. A plus. And so is the music.
As his story unfolded, the Movie Slut couldn't help thinking, "So that's why he married Yoko.
Your won't hear "Nowhere Man" in this flick so take a listen.

It's Kinda Funny: Kinda Sad, Too

When it comes to mental institution movies, you've got "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Girl Interrupted," "Three Faces of Eve," etc., etc. etc. "Kinda Funny" is like none of these. It's the story of a teen who admits himself to a mental hospital where there's not a Nurse Ratchet in sight. Which is good. And bad. It makes the viewer wonder how realistic this movie is and the best approach here is not to care.
"Kinda Funny" is such a kind, gentle and delightful movie, full of creative twists and turns, that it doesn't belong in the world of truth and accuracy. It's to be enjoyed as a fantasy all its own.
Emma Roberts, niece of Julia, is one of the stars and proves she could have gotten the part without auntie's intervention.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Secretariat: Tears & Cheers

"Secretariat," the movie, is as subtle as Pamela Anderson, as predictable as Sarah Palin, as cliched Glenn Beck. But that doesn't mean the Movie Slut didn't love it. Remember her profile? Her favorite flicks spout strive-and-succeed, come-from-behind, follow-your-dream, win-your-race messages. And "Secretariat" does all that and wins by more than a nose thanks to stars Diane Lane and John Malkovich.It's a great movie for the whole family.
We all know the story, yet the movie is not without exciting moments. Yes, this horse will win, but how? See for yourself.
It's also a three-tissue tear-jerker. "Oh Happy Day."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

You will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger: Or not

First you should know that nobody meets a tall dark stranger in "You will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger." But that's just part of the fun in Woody Allen's blithe new comedy. It opens with a narrator paraphrasing Shakespeare's iconic quote about life being a tale of sound and fury signifying nothing, and then goes on to extract all the bitterness from this statement.
The flick is like a game of musical partners and stars an A-team of actors on their A-games: Naomi Watts, Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Freida Pinto, Gemma Jones and an actress you may not know but will want to see more of, Lucy Punch.
The crisp action takes place in England. Not a frame is wasted. And while the movie may signify nothing, nothing has never been so much fun.

Friday, October 8, 2010

You Again: P U again

You again is a mystery. Technically, it's a comedy. The mystery is how a movie with such a stellar cast can be such a stinker. It stars Kristen Bell, who the Movie Slut loves ever since "Veronica Mars," and boasts a supporting cast that includes the fabulous Sigourney Weaver, the sensation Jaimie Lee Curtis and the astonishing Betty White. So what went wrong?
Pretty much everything, except the main plot, which could have been a stitch.
So Kristen's brother is marrying her high school nemesis, who just happens to be the niece of Sigourney, who was Kristen's mother's high school headache. There's a little more, but you get it.
Note the tacky dresses in the photo. That's how tacky the entire more is and Sigourney is supposed to be an obscenely wealthy business woman. I don't think you'll find that rag in Neimans.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Social Network: BFFs on the skids

There is an eureka moment in the 1983 blockbuster "War Games" when the kids realize they've hacked into a government military supercomputer. It was the ultimate prank. But it also revealed the terrifying power of the Internet. Now, nearly three decades later that electrifying moment is recreated when Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg realizes how immense and powerful his social networking site has become.

He's a 19-year-old Harward sophomore on this way to being the country's youngest billionaire.

Early reviews put the movie somewhere between winning the lottery and eating a calorie-free triple-scoop ice cream sundae. It's difficult to live up to the hype. Still this fictionalized account of Zuckerbergs's rise to fame and riches is a must not miss. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin ("West Wing") and director David Fincher ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") capture the frenzied pace and fierce competition on the Harvard campus — the dorms, the parties, the classes, the totality of what it's like to be an immature, insecure genius.
Check this out.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleep: Nor will you

Gordon Gekko is back and he wants you to know that greed is gooder the second time around. But is it?
"Wall Street," the sequel, is a slick, smart movie, but it's not as cynical as the hugely popular 1987 classic. It actually has heart. And Josh Brolin, who's now the greediest guy on the block.
Directed by Oliver Stone, who knows a thing or two about making movies, not a frame is wasted in this lightening-paced drama that runs more than two hours and feels like one.
Set in 2008 when the stock market tanked, viewers gain access to the board rooms and trading desks where money men are freaking out.
Stone inserts one scene in Central Park where children play with soap bubbles (though none bursts on screen) and another in which a chain of dominoes tumbles like the banks they represent. In others, his camera slides along the sheaths of New York's office towers as if they are the bodies of Victoria Secret's models.
Michael Douglas is back reprising his role, older and wiser, though he'll admit to neither. Shia Labeouf is his new acolyte and Carey Mulligan, his estranged daughter.
"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" is destined to be an Oscar contender and well it should.

The Town: Mad Men on the big screen

Ben Affleck is Doug MacRay, bank robber par excellence.
Jon Hamm is Agent Frawley, dogged F.B.I. guy.
The two should be formidable opponents in this gritty movie set in lawless Charlestown, Mass. They are not and the question is why.
Is it because Affleck, who is also director and co-writer, was determined not to be outshone by current heartthrob Hamm, star of T.V.'s Mad Men?
Or was it Hamm, who wasn't up for a juicier part?
The Movie Slut suspects the first explanation, since we don't learn anything about Agent Frawley that would turn him into a three-dimensional character.
Still "The Town" is a fine flick with pumping performances by Jeremy Renner of "Hurt Locker" fame and Rebecca Hall as the love interest. It's just that it could have been so much better.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Pat Tillman Story: Truth matters

Fact: Pat Tillman played football for the Arizona Cardinals. Fact: Pat Tillman turned down a multi-million dollar contract to enlist in the army after 9/11.

Fact: Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan.
Fiction: Pat Tillman was killed by the Taliban and enemy forces.
Fact: This remarkable documentary was possible because of the determination of Tillman's parents to learn the truth about their son's death and to expose the government cover-up that painted him as the hero they needed to pump up American patriotism. Mary and Patrick Tillman are the real American heroes here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Going the Distance: Doesn't

You'll want to go the distance. As far away as possible from this sorry flick that's supposed to shed light on long-distance relationships. Right!
The Movie slut was warned by the inane, idiotic trailer. Then a review in the venerable New York Times actually called this disaster "honest" and said it had "charm." No and no. So she got snookered in and now she's mad as F-ing Hell and wants her $ back.
Sorry for the F-bomb. But if you see this movie, you'll be cursing, too. Not just because it's so bad, but because Erin (Drew Barrymore) never utters a sentence without the word. She could win a prize for creative use the word as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and various little known parts of speech.
The MS thinks this was an inept attempt to distance her from every other rom-com heroine you've seen. It only works if they wanted you to hate her vociferously and not care what happens to her and her equally unappealing love interest, Garrett
(Justin Long.)
As they say, "For every lid there is a pot." Yes, these two imbeciles were made for each other. What a snore.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Animal Kingdom: Grandma Dearest

Move over Hannibal Lecter. Here comes Smurf Cody. The cannibal has nothing on this wicked broad. Look into her glistening devil's eyes and you might see her eating her young.
Smurf is the matriarch of an Australian crime family. They're not the Corleones, but bad stuff has gone down and the cops are circling.
Enter J Cody, narrator of our story. Mom's dead of a heroine overdose (Smurf's estranged daughter), and he's come to live with granny and the gang.
The story begins routinely — drugs, death and derangement — but gets interesting when the police sergeant, Guy Pearce, chats up J about the survival of the fittest. Tension mounts as we wonder, who will be the last man, or woman, standing.
This is a heart-in-your-hand movie, not because of the non-stop action, but because directer David Michod makes viewers care about at least, some of the characters.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The American: Bad Boy Abroad

You're not paranoid when everyone really is out to get you. And so Jack (George Clooney) is sane, or so we're led to believe. We also know he's an assassin (How sane is that?), who says he's simply doing what he does best. When we catch up to him, he's doing his thing in Italy. And the MS was thankful for that because he takes us into the narrow winding streets of an ancient village and the breathtaking countryside surrounding it. The scenery may be the best part of this film.
"The American" defies the truth in advertising credo. Trailers portray it as a shoot-'em-up, chase-'em-down action flick, which it is not. What we get is a quiet, introspective look at a man whose sins are catching up with him. And he knows it. Regret plays around the corners of his mouth. Death clouds his eyes.
The movie was No. 1 at the box office on its first weekend. The MS wonders if audiences knew what they were going to see. Sometimes you get more than what you asked for.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Takers: Gives Back

Yo! 'Sup? What we got here is bad bad guys and good bad guys, good good guys and bad good guys, a couple of heists, some smokin' chase scenes, a fog of cigars, the finest scotch,

phat threads and a subterranean believability quotient. But who cares when we're swept along at NASCAR speed with cool music blowing out the sound track.

"Takers" is a flick right out of the "Ocean's Eleven" playbook, stylish (sort of) and slick with a cast of 11? Well, a lot. No Clooney or Pitt, but we've got Matt Dillon (a MS favorite), Chris Brown, Jay Hernandez, T.I., Michael Ealy and Hayden Christensen.
An attempt to elevate the movie finds one Taker (a good bad guy) quoting Mongolian conqueror Ghengis Kahn, as well as a few tear-jerking subplots, but this is a full-speed-ahead action flick. And if that's what you're looking for at the multiplex — yeah, ya know.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mao's Last Dancer: A Perfect Pirouette

Q. What do you get when you cross "Rocky" with "Billy Elliot?" A. "Mao's Last Dancer," a trueish flick (It's based on an autobiography of the same title.) about a young Chinese boy plucked from his village in 1972 to train as a ballet dancer in Beijing, who finally lands on the stage in Texas.
One of the Movie Slut's favorite reviewers (Marshall Fine) dubbed the movie "middlebrow." And yes, predictability and a precious take on village life in China during the revolution mar this film. What elevates it for the MS is her passion for dance and fervor for strive-and-succeed-stories. And she defies anyone to leave the theater without dabbing tears from their eyes.
Still, "Mao" is not the her fave Chinese Cultural Revolution flick. That honor belongs to "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Will Rock Yours

It's a Gothic novel. It's an animated film. It's a coming-of-age movie. It's a battle of the bands. "Scott P" is all these and more. Don't miss this gem.
But why, oh why did it hit theaters in the dog days of August?
"Scott P" has the energy to lift you out of the end-of-summer doldrums. (Maybe that's the reason.)
This boy-meets-wacko girl movie is pure, unadulterated fun and the camera work is unlike any you've seen before. It makes all those 3D flicks look like the pathetic losers they are. Not you "Avatar."

The Switch: Hits a Glitch

Didn't anyone warn Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman about the Cute Kid Syndrome? In "Switch" they fall right into the trap. Adorable 8-year-old Thomas Robinson steals the show. And it's not just because he's so huggable. He also has the best written part. He's not cloyingly cute and preposterously precocious like so many movie kids. Think of him as a mini-Woody Allen. Only lovable.
Not that Jenifer is a disaster. Her hair and wardrobe are amazing. And Jason Bateman, as the Harry to her Sally, is fine. They just didn't get much to work with.
As for the requisite best friends, Juliette Lewis and Jeff Goldblum, well, with friends like these...
The movie aspires to be a "There's Something About Mary" comedy — off-color, off-key and hilarious. (Think sperm. Only this time in a bottle.) No way. And you figure that out in the first scene, in which a mentally ill homeless man barks out comments about passersby. So not funny.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Eat Pray Love: See Shop Spend

You know you're in trouble when the merch gets more play than the movie. And so it is with Julia Roberts' latest flick. Sure, she's as winning as ever with her mega-smile and braying laugh, but alas, not much to work with here. While Home Shopping Network fans can wallow in all kinds of movie tie-ins, movie-goers might feel cheated.
What's the movie about anyway? (Other than selling candles and clothes.) It was billed as one woman's journey to recapture wonder, find herself and escape a bad marriage. But audiences might walk away thinking it was about nothing more than finding Mr. Right, in this case the entrancing Javier Bardem. And as cute as he is, the Movie Slut wanted more.

The Extra Man: Read all about it

People who use people are the funniest people in the world. With apologies to Barbra S., that's the theme of this amusing new movie starring Kevin Kline as the extra man — a walker, who takes advantage of an inequality in numbers, specifically the surplus of older women.
The flick, which brings together an assortment of eccentrics, also stars Paul Dano, reprising his role as a strange young man in "There will be Blood." Here he's a strange young man in New York City. And rounding out the cast is a nuttier-than-usual John C. Reilly, a hirsute neighbor with a falsetto voice. And then there's Katie Holmes. The least said about her the better.
"The Extra Man" is more a pastiche of performances and a series of memorable moments than a full-fledged movie plot, but it's most definitely a fun watch.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Life During Wartime: Devastatingly Dark

In the Movie Slut's humble opinion, there are two reasons, and only two, to see director Todd Solondz's wickedly dark new movie.
The first is the performance of Irish actor Ciaron Hinds, who plays a tortured pedophile just released from prison — a man who knows that despite years of counseling, tons of medication and profound remorse, he can neither be cured nor controlled.
The second is the breathtakingly exquisite Vivaldi music that accompanies a recurrent scene that haunts the stricken man.
Other than that, the movie is an absurd story about a Jewish family seen through the eyes of an about-to-be bar mitzva boy. Okay, there are some laughs, but too much time is spent blathering on about forgiving and forgetting and the characters are too pathologically out there to either identify with or believe in. It all takes place in a post 9/11 world unlike any you've seen. Thank the Lord.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Other Guys: Sillyliscious

Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell are right up there with Oscar and Felix when it comes to wacky odd couples. They're two New York City misfit cops, each harboring a hysterically funny past that prevents them fitting in at the precinct. Of course their boats get a chance to float and prove that they're not such pathetic losers after all.
"Guys" is both a spoof on the mind numbing action flicks we movie addicts endure each summer, as well as a merciless take on our American way of life.
Wahlberg is an ideal foil for the geeky, number-crunching Ferrell. But he's not all there either. His past transgression has made him the most hated badge in a city where cops are despised by criminals law abiders alike. The Movie Slut will not be a spoiler, but she will say his offense has something to do with Yankee Captain Derek Jeter, who makes a cameo in this deliciously foolish flick.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Charlie St. Cloud: Zac Attack

Tear jerkers don't get much sapier than this. And here's a surprise: Zac Efron, of "High School Musical" fame, really can act. Of course loyal followers of this blog know that already since they've read the MS review of "Me and Orson Welles," in which he shines as the great theater impresario's gofer.
In this new flick, Zac is a high school student again, but this time, he's not singing. He's mourning in his own special way.
Set in Quincy, Mass., with breathtaking ocean cinematography,this movie will delight swooning teenage girls and guys, too, since it's the best date film of the summer.
As for the Movie Slut, she found it refreshing to see a guy on the big screen who isn't a cad, a pig, a homicidal maniac or just a garden-variety dickhead.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Despicable Me: Delightfully Dastardly

Too-da-loo Tron. Vamoose Vader. Finally, a movie villain of truly depraved villainocity.
Meet Gru, an evildoer with a contemptible plan of mega-malevolent proportions. No small-time nefariousness for this Vicious One.
Without giving too much away, the Movie Slut will say that this miscreant's diabolically craven scheme involves stealing an orb sometimes associated with cheese and lovers. And the scalawag is not alone. His wicked army of ruthless, menacing Minions is always at his command.
So, whatever you do this summer, don't miss "Despicable Me." It's an animated gem that Mom and Dad will love as much as the kiddies do. Maybe more.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dinner for Schmucks: Mauvais Appetite

Death by PC. That sums up the fate of this alleged dark comedy. Chalk one up for the Political Correctness Police. Despite the photo to the right, this movie is not about food for idiots. It's about a dinner party where each "Master of the Universe" invites a weirdo idiot guest so everyone can make fun of him/her.
"Not nice," you say. The point exactly. The problem with this movie is that it's way too nice. Steve Carell is the lovable schmuck invited to the table by Paul Rudd, who also has a surfeit of niceness. The movie is not without laughs. The problem is these laughs are too polite.
If only the Farrelly brothers had been at the helm. They know how to poke fun at the normalacy-challenged while saving us from hating ourselves for laughing at them. Case in point: "There's Something About Mary"