Saturday, January 30, 2010

When in Rome: Or New York

A poker chip rolls down the ramp at the Guggenheim in Manhattan. On and on it goes, past museum-goers, past installations, past Pissarros, Picassos and Kandinskys. Where will it stop? Beth doesn't know. She's the youngest curator at the museum, in charge of a major fund-raiser, and like the wayward chip, her life has careened out of control.
Her problems began in Rome when she ventured into the Fountain of Love. Now, love, in all its wacky permutations, has followed her back home.
Beth, played by the always winning Kristen Bell (TV's "Veronica Mars") is a workaholic New Yorker and the love-shy daughter of a Lothario Dad, the always hunky Don Johnson. Also making cameos are Anjelica Huston, as Beth's no-nonsense boss and Danny DeVito, as the Sausage King. (You'll just have to see the movie.) And not to forget Picasso's "Woman with Yellow Hair," which, as Beth explains, sums up her reasons for believing love is nothing more than fool's gold.
Somehow everything coalesces in this smart, funny, tender rom-com about the magic of art and love.
You'll also be happy to hear that Hollywood is kinder to the Guggenheim in this flick than it was last year in "The International" when the bad guys blew it all up.

Edge of Darkness: Not in my blog

The Movie Slut is indiscriminate. When it comes to flicks, she sees the wondrous, the so-so and the wickedly awful. But, even she has her standards. That's why she's passing on Mel Gibson's new movie, "Edge of Darkness." She will not see it. She will not review it. Here's why.
In 2004, the Movie Slut was disturbed by "The Passion of the Christ," in which Gibson espoused pre-Vatican II ideas, including Jewish culpability for the killing of Christ. She didn't like it, but she respected his right to express his beliefs. After all, he was a Fundamentalist Catholic and that's the party line.
That respect came to a dead end in 2006, when Gibson went on an anti-Semitic rant after being arrested for drunk driving.
Surely that's not behavior condoned by his religion or the first amendment.
Now, the more-Catholic-than-thou Gibson is getting a divorce amidst rumors of philandering. Divorce! Philandering! Finally, he's showing the world exactly who he is: A loathsome hypocritical bigot. The Movie Slut urges you to boycott this flick.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Extraordinary Measures: Magnificent Results

The Movie Slut was afraid EM was just another weepy malady-of-the-month movie. How wrong she was.
What we have here are two men: a cantankerous, eccentric research scientist with great taste in old rock music, (Harrison Ford playing to type); a desperate, warm & fuzzy, dad, who knows his way around corporate mumbo-jumbo (Brendan Fraser owning the role); and two adorable tykes suffering from a rare, degenerative condition that will take their lives within a year.Talk about a race against time!
The odd couple — who make Oscar and Felix look like they met on — must put their differences aside and join forces to find, if not a cure, then at least a treatment for Pompe's disease, a form of muscular dystrophy that will soon attack the children's little hearts. As if that were not difficult enough, they also have to contend with bottom-line obsessed drug companies with no interest in hearts unless they can sell a drug for them.
Based on a non-fiction book, the movie seesaws smoothly from the heart-wrenching family drama to the corporate tussles, and in the process opens eyes about how drugs are researched, tested and marketed.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Lovely Bones: Leave your brain at home

In the beginning of this loopy flick about a murdered teen living in the inbetween — a suburb of heaven — a mother calls out to her two daughters as they leave for school. "Suzie," she shouts, "put on your hat. You'll be cold." (Or something like that.) The younger sister doesn't have a hat, but mom isn't concerned. Why? Because only Suzie's hat figures in the rest of the movie, after she's murdered.
Hello Captain Obvious! "The Lovely Bones" is marred by such sloppy plotting and groaner dialog. But that doesn't mean the Movie Slut is trashing it.
Oh, no. Wonderful performances by Mark Wahlberg, dad; Rachel Weisz, mom; Stanley Tucci, weird neighbor who — duh! — nobody suspects; Susan Sarandon, drunk grandma; and especially Saoirse Ronan, Suzie — of "Atonement" fame — make this movie worth seeing.
Just watch it with your heart and switch your brain to pause.

The Book of Eli: Go west old man

An old man in tattered clothes, covered with dust, is trudging through a rubbled black and white landscape. He is Eli. Voices have told him to take the book he found after the great apocalypse, that followed a great war, and head toward the Pacific.
The book is leather bound, adorned with a gilded cross. While it's in his possession, the man will be safe.
The man is Denzel Washington and the book is The Bible. And this being a post-apocalyptic tale, there is also a villain, acted with villainous glee by Gary Oldman. He is also obsessed with possessing the book but for very different reasons.
And so it goes in "The Book of Eli," a captivating drama that tells an old story in a brilliant new way. It's all about good vs. evil and the power of religion to serve either one.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Single Man: Better than "Brokeback"

Fashionistas adore Tom Ford. He's the fashion designer who transformed Gucci from tacky to terrific in the 1990s and in doing so lit a fire under the entire luxury goods sector. So how did he do in his premier role as a movie director/writer/producer? Impeccably.
"A Single Man," based on a book by Christopher Isherwood (Cabaret), just might be the most stylish film to accessorize the big screen — ever. But Ford didn't stop there. He also coaxed out first-rate performances from his actors, especially Colin Firth, a single man, college professor, and all around gay guy, who's longtime lover dies in a car crash.
We watch George stumble — ever so stylishly — through his grief. And despite looking like he just stepped out of a Gucci Pour Homme magazine ad, we feel his pain.
Homophobes should skip this flick. For everyone else, especially Julianne Moore fans, it's a must-see.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: A Disastarium

The "Imaginarium of..." is about the power of the imagination, the confusion of choice, the struggle between good and evil, the bliss of youth, the fear of growing old, love, jealousy and a few other lofty ideas thrown in for good measure. If only the filmmakers had focused on one subject. Instead movie-goers are tossed about like ships in a storm not knowing what to hold on to escape the inevitable — drowning.
So, that's the bad news. What's good about this magnificent mess of a movie — this fantastagorium — is the acting. Christopher Plummer is the good Doctor who's fighting for the soul of his lovely daughter Valentina (Lily Cole). Heath Ledger (in his final role) Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell round out the stellar cast.
Dr. P is the proprietor of a carnival act that's more than smoke and mirrors. Indeed! For a nominal fee, clients are transported through the looking glass — in this case a full-length mirror — into a land of their imagination. Where's Alice when we need her?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond: Finders Keepers?

Tennessee Williams sure can break your heart. Even in this, considered not his best work (written in 1957), his characters scorch the screen with their pitiable desperation. Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron's daughter) is Fischer Willow the girl with the lost diamond earring, a 1920s southern debutante whose vulnerability is hidden under a hard-crusted veneer. Her God on Earth, the object of her desire, is the son of an alcoholic father and a mentally ill mother. (Oh, so Williamsesque.) Her genteel family doesn't approve even though he is a man of formidable character.
When Fisher loses one of her aunt's $5,000 earrings, he finds himself in the center of the drama, pulled by two women who love him to distraction: The wealthy, willful heiress and an equally headstrong "dirt poor" rival, who's been corrupted by poverty as much as Fischer has by privilege.
It's a steamy story, and oh, so satisfying.

Sherlock Holmes: Elementary, it's not

Full disclosure: The Movie Slut adores Sherlock Holmes AND she loves Robert Downey Jr. even more. So it's no surprise that she smiled her way through Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes. The question is, will you?
The answer is yes, if you like action films, foggy Victorian London, damsels in distress, bare-chested hunks, side-kick flicks and villians named Prof. Moriarty.
This is not your grandfather's Holmes, still, it's true to the spirit of the quirky, eccentric genius detective and the good doctor who's always by his side. In fact, the Movie Slut thinks Jude Law's Dr. Watson is more true to the original than some of the foolish fuddy-duddies in the old films. After all, in the Conan Doyle stories, he was not only a physician, but also a war veteran and the chronicler of Sherlock's adventures. No slouch.
Can't wait for the sequel.

Nine: More than the sum of its parts

The Movie Slut was skeptical. The movie trailer sucked — a frenetic slice-and-dice pastiche of song and dance. Sound and fury signifying nada.
Nine is so much more. Daniel Day-Lewis plays a Felliniesque movie director (think 81/2) with a raging case of writer's block. To understand how he arrived at this impasse, we meet the women in his life, from Mom, Sophia Loren, to muse, Nicole Kidman, to wife, Marion Cotillard, to lover, Penelope Cruz, to confident, Judi Dench, to reporter Kate Hudson. Yes, they all sing and dance, erotically and entertainingly, for the most. But it's Day-Lewis who elevates this movie above mere wiggles and jiggles, not just because he's an ace actor, but because his character is quite the guy.

Daybreakers: A bloody good flick

"Life's a bitch and then you don't die," says Ethan Hawke, vampire, physician and human-sympathizer in this scary, interesting and, yes, inspiring horror, sci-fi thriller.
It's a rare moment of levity in this noir film (Shall we say rouge considering all the gushing, geysering blood?), where humans are an endangered species and vampires rule. It's not looking good for the homo sapiens. And just think about what's happening to the food supply.
It does sound a tad hokey. But the Movie Slut promises that "Daybreakers" breaks through the silly screen fillers thanks to an imaginative plot, a meaningful message, and an excellent cast, including San Neill, the vampire villain, and Willem Dafoe, a turned vampire who's now human — sort of.
The MS challenges you to witness the brilliant finale without drawing parallels to the absurdity of man's inhumanity to man in the real world.
"There is a cure. You can be turned. There is hope," Hawke says at the end of the movie.
If only.