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.