Sunday, February 21, 2010

Shutter Island: Did he or didn't he?

Martin Scorsese's new film is like an amusement park ride that twists and turns, then weaves back on itself, while all the time plunging you more deeply into menacing, forbidding darkness. It's about as nuanced and subtle as a James Patterson novel. But how much fun are they!
Leonardo DiCaprio is perfection as a U.S. marshal sent to an island prison for violent offenders to investigate the disappearance of an inmate. What he discovers — or thinks he discovers — begs the question: Are these inmates, or patients, receiving benign treatment under the stewardship of Ben Kingsley, the head psychiatrist? Or... is he conducting Nazi-like experiments on them?
The movie is set in the early 1950s, a time when mental illness and its treatments were shrouded in fear and ignorance, and it flashes back to the '40s and the marshal's hellish World War II experiences. And then there are the haunting dreams about his dead wife. He experiences migraines and visions. Is it in the food and cigarettes he's been given?
Critics weren't kind to "Shutter Island," but the Movie Slut found it fascinating. It made her think about the nature of violence and whether we are all capable of such acts. Pretty scary stuff.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Homer goes to high school

The Greek gods Zeus and Poseidon meet on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, supposedly as close to Mount Olympus as you can get on Earth. It seems someone has stolen the lightning bolt and Hades, god of the underworld, is going postal.
The Movie Slut envisions Homer, author of the original Odyssey, cracking up in his grave at this fun and magical retelling of his story. The fun includes Pierce Brosnan as a centaur, half man/ half horse, and Uma Thurman, as Medusa, she of the unruly snake hair. (Isn't there a product for that? Viper-Away Spray?) Young Logan Lerman, in the starring role, is winning as a befuddled demigod. Poseidon is his father and Catherine Keener, his mother.
In pursuit of the stolen lightning bolt, Percy and his pals set out on a scavenger hunt that takes them to Nashville and Las Vegas, among other American cultural centers.
Tweens will love this movie and there's a few winks and nods to keep mom and dad happy, too, including the location of Hades. Think about it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day: It's not just hearts & flowers

"Valentine's Day" has a star-studded cast. Everyone from Ashton Kutcher to Anne Hathaway, from Jennifer Garner, to Jamie Fox, from Julia Robers to Shirley MacLaine appears on the screen. But don't hold that against it. And its subject is far from profound. Don't hold that against it either. In fact, while this flick isn't more than the sum of its parts — oh, those parts.
"Valentine's Day" has been compared — negatively — to the brilliant 2003 British film, "Love Actually", which also boasts an ensemble cast. But the Movie Slut believes the real yin to its yang is
"Crash," the 2005 movie, which also takes place in L.A.and presents a series of stories that interlock like a
serpent puzzle.
Think of "Valentine's Day" as "Crash" on a sugar high.
While "Crash" revolved around racism and violence, this movie focuses on what fools we mortals become on the "most romantic day of the year."
MS was expecting a predictable pastiche of syrupy vignettes. You wrong, girl. There are surprises in this film and some really funny jabs at the insanity of a holiday that only Hallmark can love.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dear John: Love, Savannah

Chick Flicks and date movies don't get much better than this latest film based on a book by treacly Nicholas Sparks. (So much better than
"The Notebook.")
Here, our star-crossed lovers, John, Channing Tatum, and Savannah, Amanda Seyfried, find all kinds of roadblocks in their path to happily ever after. (BTW, if he looks familiar think old Abercrombie and Fitch catalogs, while she was the singing/dancing queen in the movie "Mamma Mia!")
So, here they are falling in love in the aftermath of 9/11. If that's not bad enough, he's in the military on the verge of deployment. And if that's not bad enough, his dad, played to perfection by Richard Jenkins, is a rather strange dude. Maybe autism. And if that's not bad enough, Savannah is emotionally attached to a young boy, who is definitely autistic. Is there something in the water?
That's about all the Movie Slut will divulge about this wonderful weepy. Bring tissues.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

From Paris with Love: Oo la yech!

Let's say you're a suicide bomber. A female suicide bomber. And let's say you have the perfect disguise to get you into an important international conference wearing your trusty blow-it-up vest. What kind of footwear would you wear to melt into the crowd? A. Sneakers. B. Sensible flats. C. Spindly stilettos. If you chose C, you might enjoy "From Paris with Love," a movie that makes as much sense as accessorizing a burqa with limousine shoes.
You might also want to see this nonsensical flick if you're an obsessed John Travolta fan. (Hey, nothing wrong with that.) Or a Jonathan Rhys Myers junkie. (He's pretty cool, too.) Though both stink like fetid foie gras in this buddy movie that's supposed to be a takeoff of James Bond's "From Russian with Love." Operative words: "supposed to be."
"From Paris with Love" is the exception to one of the Movie Slut's most revered rules: Never miss a flick with Paris in the title.
If you decide to skip this mess of a movie, she suggests renting one of these: "Paris After Dark," 1943; "American in Paris," 1951; "Paris Blues," 1961; "Paris — when it sizzles," 1964; "Paris, Texas," 1984; "Paris is Burning," 1990; "Paris,je t'aime," 2006."
A bientot.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Legion: Horror with your Hamburger

Uh oh! Remember what happened last time God was angry with mankind? (Thanks Noah.) Well, now he/she is mad again and has sent his angels to do the dirty work. Gabriel is on board. But kind-hearted Michael (Paul Bettany) hasn't given up on us.
The action takes place in a diner — owned by Dennis Quaid - located somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Michael must protect an eight-month-pregnant woman whose baby could be our only salvation.

So far so bad. And, happily, it gets worse.

Gabriel has transformed humans into zombie-esque creatures with itty-bitty pointy teeth and the ability to crawl on ceilings.

And it gets even worse.

So much worse, in fact, that "Legion" fits snuggly into one of the Movie Slut's fave niches: Movies that are so bad they're good. She loved every awful nanosecond of it.