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.