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.