Friday, December 30, 2011

The Artist: Silence Please

"The Artist" is to a Hollywood blockbuster as a Laura Ashley pinafore is to a Versace gown.

The big screen doesn't light up with pyrotechnics. There are no car chases. And nothing flies off the screen threatening to pierce you between the eyes.

You won't hear any chit-chat either because this is a silent movie.

The consensus in the ladies room after the film was that "The Artist" was "boring."
"I kept nodding off," one woman complained.
"I wish I did," another groused.

The Movie Slut, however, adored this flick. It was an old-time silent movie with the improvements of modern-day technology. If you've never seen a pre-talkie, as the women in the ladies room confessed, you might agree with them. But if you've enjoyed this old-time entertainment in the past, say on Turner Classic Movies, you'll find "The Artist" a treat.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Dangerous Method: Talk Isn't Cheap

Way back when psychoanalysis was born, Sigmund Freud had chosen the young Swiss doctor, Karl Jung, to be his heir apparent. But they drifted apart. It seems Jung didn't believe that all human neuroses were about sex.

Clearly, he didn't see this movie.

"A Dangerous Method," which doesn't seem that dangerous (but more about that later), is all about sex. Oh the sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. Good sex. Boring sex. Pervy sex, gratuitous sex and lots and lots of talk about sex. And yet, somehow this flick isn't sexy at all.

The plot revolves around a young woman, Sabina Spielrein (over-acted by Keira Knightly), who suffers from hysteria. She becomes Jung's patient, and then his mistress.

Sabina was treated with the Talking Cure — when she wasn't shtupping her shrink. And she was restored to a highly functioning woman who became a psychoanalyst herself.

Luckily, those were the days before physicians prescribed drugs instead of talking to their patients. (Much cheaper and less time-consuming than actually listening to them.) Sabina had to face her problems instead of popping pills to numb her feelings and mask her symptoms. Now, that's really the dangerous method.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

War Horse: A Very Human Story

You've got to love a movie with end credits that include a goose trainer and an equine makeup artist. But those are lesser reasons to adore this Steven Spielberg epic drama about love and human kindness exhibited by people even in the most dire circumstances.

And how welcome that message is at a time when our species is constantly being told how greedy, worthless and corrupt we all are.

That the most wonderful of human traits is revealed in a story about a horse — well — does it really matter how the tale is told? Some say this movie is about the bond between man and beast. But the humanity exhibited by the characters in this sweeping saga seems to say more about our fundamental humanity.

Joey, the horse, is no ordinary creature. But the adoration heaped on him by the people who weave through his life is even more extraordinary.

He's trained and learns to plow by a Devon lad who worships him. A young French girl teaches him to jump. (Both these skills save him from imminent death.) And in the movie's defining scene, an English and a German soldier on the front lines during WWI, come together and risk their lives to save his.

Now what do you think? Is this a movie about horse or human?

If you haven't seen this movie, do so asap and let the Movie Slut know what you think.

Friday, December 23, 2011

We Bought a Zoo: Don't we all?

Life is an adventure. And to thrive you need 20 seconds of insane courage. That's the message of this surprisingly excellent family movie. Change that to 20 minutes of insane courage every day and the Movie Slut is willing to buy into the idea.

Sorry, right-wing conservatives, you no longer have a stranglehold on family values. Matt Damon, the consummate Hollywood insider, now wears that crown.

"Zoo" could have been a cloying, shmaltsy, sappy flick about a widower (Damon) with two children and a wicked case of crushing grief. He's a newspaper reporter. Not a happy job to have these days. (Thanks very much Internet.) But that was before he bought the zoo.

And so he takes the path less traveled and finds himself emerging, ever so slowly, from the loss of his beloved wife.

This is not rocket science. Neither is it simplistic. It's a flick filled with emotional truth and love.

No animals were harmed during the filming of this movie. And no humans will be harmed by watching it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol


Your mission, loyal reader — if you choose to accept it — is to enjoy this movie without thinking about Tom Cruise, his spiritual beliefs, his antic couch jumping, his anti-psychiatry rant. This flick is about Ethan Hunt, daredevil IMF agent and indestructible, unstoppable, indomitable good guy. And his mission — which he chooses to accept, of course — is nothing short of saving our planet from a global!!! nuclear!!! attack!!!!!

And that means zooming around the planet from Moscow, where he breaks out of prison, to Budapest, to Dubai, where he scales the world's tallest building, to Mumbai, and finally to San Francisco for about three minutes of downtime, where we learn there will definitely be a fifth "MI"movie.

Oh Goody. One can never get enough of fiery explosions, cool electronic gadgets, sexy chicks, studly hunks and diabolical evil-doers.

Extreme action is what this flick is about and the Movie Slut says, "Bring it on."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

The deerskin hat is gone. And so are the violin, the cocaine and the unbearable boredom. But we've got the pipe, the disguises and the ingenious powers of deduction. We also meet his one true love, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdmas), his archenemy, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), his eccentric brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry), and of course, his loyal sidekick, Dr. Watson (Jude Law).

Some say Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is rolling over in his grave now that Robert Downey Jr. is back as Sherlock Holmes. But the Movie Slut thinks he's sitting bolt straight, laughing his head off.

Doyle wrote his first Holmes mystery more than 125 years ago. And although the stories and writing hold up to this day (the MS has read every story and novel), it's more than likely that the detective would have changed after all these years.

This new Holmes is a manic sort. He dashes around the foggy streets of London, the raucous alleys of Paris and the snowy mountains of Switzerland.

He's having such a good time and so will you if you accept the fact that you won't meet classic Sherlock at the multiplex. It's elementary, my dear readers.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Young Adult: Arrested Development

The Hello Kitty T-shirt speaks volumes. Mavis Gary's emotional development stalled about ten years ago when she was in high school. Mavis, played brilliantly by Charlize Theron, was the prom queen back then, and a hot item with a hunk named Buddy.

Sure, he's married with a baby, now. But the way she sees it, that's a minor roadblock in their long life together.

And so, Stalker Girl returns to the small hometown that was — and will remain — the winter of her discontent. She's smart and gorgeous, but that's no longer the ticket to success.

"Young Adult" is funny in a politically incorrect way that's reminiscent of "There's Something About Mary," but underneath the laughs, it's a portrait of depression, exacerbated by booze.

It's one of the most thoughtful movies the Movie Slut has seen in some time. Adding to its appeal is the open-ended final scene.

Does Mavis trash the Hello Kitty T-shirt, move on from writing Young Adult novels, and enter the world of grownup reality? Or does she down another drink?

See what you think.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jack and Jill: Womb Mates

Sometimes you gotta slum. Intellectually speaking. And what better way to get your low-brow fix than at an Adam Sandler movie?

In this deliciously dumb flick, Sandler is both Jack and Jill. He's become a wealthy advertising mogul in California, while she's been stagnating in New York. But now, the holidays bring the siblings together for some "twin time."

Sandler is more than a movie star. He's a brand: The clueless, sophomoric good guy with a warm heart and winning family values, although it usually takes between 90 and 120 minutes to discover his attributes.

Beware: You'll have to suffer through the requisite scatology, a defining (groan!) element of any Sandler film.

Kudos to director Dennis Dugan for coaxing wonderful performances from supporting characters, including Katie Holmes, Jack's wife and foil, who's never been better, and Al Pacino, who inexplicably and hilariously falls in love with Jill. The Movie Slut hasn't seen Scarface this good in decades.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Year's Eve: Schmaltz +Corn = Cr--

If you don't already hate New Year's Eve, you will after seeing this inane movie. Unless, that is, you're not old enough to remember too many end-of-the-year "celebrations" full of faux frivolity and idiotic party hats, followed by hellacious hangovers. The young audience at the multiplex last night laughed their way through this banal, shallow, insipid film, while The Movie Slut and her friend groaned (good naturedly).
"NYE" is another one of those star-studded efforts with a cast of thousands. Okay, about eighteen. The 2003 British flick "Love Actually," did it wonderfully, weaving together meaningful, powerful, heartfelt stories that resonated with movie goers and pulled their heartstrings.
Unfortunate imitations were sure to follow. And now we have another one.
Not a platitude has been left on the cutting room floor. No cliché is too hackneyed to be ignored.
Still, with all that star power, some excellent performances are on the screen. And one more blast of good news: Justin Bieber doesn't even have a tiny cameo. Hallelujah.

Arthur Christmas: No Kid Left Behind

It's Christmas Eve, circa 2011. The reindeer are nestled all snug in their stalls. Santa is delivering his gifts in a flying saucer-like contraption.
But ooops!
One gift remained behind.
How will the small girl in England get the pink twinkle bike she wants so desperately?
Arthur to the rescue.
Santa's younger son is a behind-the-scenes kinda guy. In fact, he suffers from a wicked fear of heights. Worse than flying, however, is the knowledge that one small child won't enjoy the Christmas she deserves.
What ensues is an animated galactic odyssey — with the requisite amount of wonder — that both parents and children will enjoy.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good movie.

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Week With Marilyn: A Young Man's Delight

Michelle Williams is no Marilyn. But neither is any other contemporary actress. It's difficult to think of anyone who could capture that intoxicating mix of voluptuous, vulnerable va-va-va-voom.

Still Williams does a fine job of bringing Marilyn to life (yes, Oscar buzz has begun) and the fact that she doesn't steal every scene, as Monroe did, is right for this movie.

It's about a young man, played to perfection by Eddie Redmayne, who enjoys a week with Marilyn during the filming of "The Prince and the Showgirl," in 1957.

This is a coming-of-age, first-love movie and rightfully belongs to Redmayne.
Kenneth Branagh, as Sir Laurence Olivier, who starred with Monroe in the "Prince," is wonderfully snooty and punctilious. His precise acting style and overbearing narcissism contrast sharply and beautifully with Monroe's insecurities and messy natural talent.

The movie is a feast for the eyes and also provides food for thought.

(How's that for two cliches in one sentence!)

Hugo: Unlock the Mystery

Martin Scorsese has abandoned the mean streets for the romance of an early 20th-century train station. A French station, which adds to the romance, of course.

Hugo, an orphan, lives within the walls and makes sure the clocks run on time.

Still, this mesmerizing, enchanting film is not as much about this winning boy, but about what he discovers, which is something the Movie Slut discovered, too. Let's call it the wonder, magic and delight of movies. This flick will amaze you and make you fall in love with them all over again.

Sensational performances by Sacha Baron Cohen as a touching and hilarious martinet of a station inspector, and Ben Kingsley, as an old, washed up shopkeeper with a secret, enrich this already magnificent film.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Descendants: Trouble in Paradise

Life is messy and even the most intelligent of us can behave stupidly, especially at times of crises. And that's pretty much all you need to know about this tragi-comedy starring George Clooney.
Oh, one more truth: None of us are blameless and all of us should make room for forgiveness. So, forgive the Movie Slut if she adds one more observation. Maybe Clooney isn't really the star of this surprisingly enlightening film. The islands of Hawaii steal this show. The flowers,
the music, the sand, the sea and the lush green hills.
"The Descendants" isn't for everyone. One critic called it a movie for grownups. The 3D crowd will want to miss it. Nothing comes flying off the screen except raw emotion.

The Muppets: Mahna Mahna

The Movie Slut will not be reviewing this film. Annie, 6, and Charlie, 4, will be the critics.

"Ten stars! Excellent!" Annie enthused after the grand musical finale. "It was actually a little bit better than 'Mr. Popper's Penguins.' It was much better than "Tangled."

Annie says her favorite part of the movie was when Miss Piggy said, 'I am not going to do The Muppet Show again.'" And she was happy that Kermit and Miss Piggy got together at the end.

As for Charlie, he only liked the movie "a little bit." But he loves
the music. And he sings a pretty mean version. "Mahna Mahna."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mary Marcie May Marlene: Mmmmmmmm?

If you like sitting on the edge of your seat at the multiplex, four M is the movie for you. It's not a traditional thriller. But it is scareeeeeee!

A young woman, who joins a cult for some reason we never discover, falls under the spell of the leader, a Charles Manson/Warren Jeffs kinda guy.

She manages to escape to the home of her only living relative, her married sister and then...

No, the Movie Slut is never a spoiler. But she will say that MMMM is one of those independent films with a narrow take on a narrow subject. And unfortunately, it doesn't break new ground. We all know about Manson and Jeffs and what happens to their followers.

Still, superb acting by the lead characters, including Elizabeth Olsen, the annoying twins' younger sister, make this dark film worth a see.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

The Movie Slut can't wait for Part 2.

Maybe she doesn't belong to this flick's target audience. She hasn't been a tween or even a teen for many twilights, but you gotta love a film that equates marriage with death.

Yes, dear readers, Bella marries the studly vampire. Not the hunky werewolf. You need not be versed in vampire lore to realize the dangerous honeymoon to come. And the movie doesn't disappoint.

It's still curious that Bella's parents are so clueless about their new sons-in-law's deathlike pallor and that of his white-out-faced friends, for that matter.
But never mind.

"Breaking Dawn" is delightfully irony-free, and though some of the characters have a habit of transmogrifying, while others chug blood like it's Miller's Light, this movie exudes more emotional truth than many of the year's more celebrated films. (That's right "J. Edgar," we're talking about you.)

The perfectly cast stars, none of whom exhibit laudable acting skills, work as a winning trifecta. They may be awkward at times but that's part of their appeal.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

J. Edgar: The Untrue Story

You've got to hand it to director Clint Eastwood. Who else would take an obsessive-compulsive, paranoid, stuttering, gayish, cross-dressing, self-promoting mama's boy with not one tiny redeeming characteristic and place him at the center of a 137-minute movie?

Add to that the lumpy, pasty makeup piled on characters when they age, and the absurd accent Leonardo DiCaprio sports to mimic the controversial FBI director, and let's just say likability is not this movie's strong point.

What is?

Good acting and cinematography and polished story telling.

Still, that wasn't enough for the Movie Slut.

OK, so she knows J. Edgar Hoover was a tyrant and a bully, but should we pile on now — and not even with a hint of nuance? The guy's no longer around to defend himself.

So, what's your game Clint? Dirty Harry never seemed dirtier.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Skin I Live In: More Than Skin Deep

Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar is arguably the most accomplished film-maker of our times. If you think not, you'll have to argue with the Movie Slut.

He had her at "Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," 1988, and "Tie Me Up! Tie me Down!" 1990. Perhaps her favorite is "High Heels," 1991. This remarkable new movie continues his unparalleled oeuvre.

Almodóvar is an artist, a psychologist and a supreme story teller. His characters, usually strong, smart, stylish, sexy, slightly loco women whose love has no boundaries, are some of the screens most memorable.

"Skin" is a sci-fi thriller, a mystery, and a love story. Antonio Banderas is a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein, a plastic surgeon whose obsession defies the laws and ethics of the medical establishment. And if you think that will stop him, you don't know Almodóvar.

Please, dear readers, do not read one of those tell-all reviews (which should be outlawed) before seeing this movie. Watching the unpredictable plot unfold is one of this year's cinematic highlights.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Margin Call: The Party's Over

Greed isn't good in this surprisingly thoughtful financial thriller. It's October, 2008, the night before the stock market dive. A young employee at a fictitious (Lehman Brothers like) company discovers that the financial markets are braced for the plunge.
Who knew what when is uncovered during a sleepless night as the firm's higher ups, played by some of Hollywood's best actors, decide how to handle the looming disaster.
Much is learned about the Wall Street culture and a cast of characters for whom money is everything. Interestingly, they believe everyone is as money hungry as they are. Doesn't everyone want a Mercedes and a house in the Hamptons? Not the Movie Slut.
You won't find heroes or saints in this film. Just a bunch of people who are bankrupt in every way.
Little sympathy is wasted on the "little" people who are about to lose their life savings. As one character put it, they gambled and they lost.
You won't lose by seeing this flick.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tower Heist: Revenge of the 99%

Watching this zippy comedy might be the most fun you've had at the movies since you were 16 and on a date. And this time, it has everything to do with what's on the screen.
The comedy dream team of Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy are at the core of this delight about a modern-day "Robin Hood and his band of merry doormen." (Which gives you an idea of the inspired writing.)
Stiller plays his best role, a la "Zoolander" and "Tropic Thunder." He's a guy who takes himself far too seriously, a guy who knows he's right, a guy who rarely stops to to think. Whether he's the punctilious manager of a luxury Manhattan apartment building or a manager gone rogue who's out for revenge, he's always full steam ahead. Forever clueless. Never considering good advice or common sense.
Murphy, on the other hand, is the lovable crook, who's not nearly as larcenous as he'd like people to believe.
Put them together with Alan Alda, a Bernie Madoff-style swindler, and what you get are the "peasants taking back from the feudal lords." You go, guys.
Murphy and Stiller are joined by a competent cast of comedians, but perhaps the real star of this feel-good flick is New York City. It sparkles and gleams on the screen as if nothing too sinister could ever happen there. If only.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rum Diaries: A Toast to Thompson

Lurking under the fog of booze and drugs, a darn good movie can be found here. Based on a book by Hunter S. Thompson, and staring Johnny Depp as Thompson's alter ego, movie-goers meet the young journalist in the days before he goes gonzo.
It's 1960. Kemp, as he's called in the film, is a writer in search of his voice. He hunts for it in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he lands a job at an English language newspaper.
What he discovers on this island awakens him to the injustice and greed he will rail against in the future. Unfortunately, there's all that rum.
Too much of the movie is devoted to supposedly funny drunken shenanigans. Been there. Seen that. Still, it's worth picking through the empty bottles to meet Thompson when he was on the verge of creating a new journalistic style.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

In Time: Confusing Times

Time is literally money in this imaginative, futuristic film. Indeed, a hamburger could cost 30 minutes, and a gallon of gas could set you back a day.
In this have-and-have-not world, the 1% can buy immortality, while the 99% will die at 25 if they're unable to accrue additional time. It goes without saying that salaries are paid in minutes, that policemen are "time keepers" and that outlaws steal your time, and not because they're boring.
Gigantic quantities of belief suspension are needed to enjoy this flick, but the effort is worth it, probably due to Justin Timberlake's believable performance. And Amanda Seyfried's to a lesser extent.
And there's plenty of thoughtful ways to view this movie. Is endless life worth living if you're merely existing? Is immortality all it's cracked up to be? And most perplexing, since those who live beyond age 25 never appear a day older, what happens when grandma and gramps are the same age as you? Confusing, right? Come to think of it, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" was a much better film.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Take Shelter: Is He Or Isn't He

What if Noah had a shrink? That's the question that zoomed through the Movie Slut's mind after seeing this thought-provoking psychological drama/quasi thriller. If you insist on plots that zip across the screen at Nascar speeds, skip this flick. The man across the aisle clearly was not a member of the target audience. You could tell by the way he slipped into a snoreful snooze.
"Shelter" does crawl, sometimes even plod along, but thanks to exacting performances by Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, the MS was never bored or restless. Curtis and Samantha are a young couple in the mid-West, living happily from paycheck to paycheck, until strange things start happening that only he can see.
It's a movie that will stick with you thanks to a well-developed plot that unfolds believably.
And in case you're wondering, Curtis does see a shrink.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Thing: Trust No One

The Thing is grotesque. Check. It turns up in a remote location. Check. And the humans who discover it are isolated from the rest of the world. Check.
All systems are go for a gratifying horror flick."The Thing" doesn't disappoint. But as gross as the alien monster is — and it is horrifying — it's what this movie tells us about ourselves that's even scarier.
Let's time travel back for a minute. It's 1951 and "The Thing" is in theaters for the first time. Considered a cult classic, it had all the requisite elements. Even more frightening than the slimy, growling monster, however, were the effete scientists in the movie. Back then, the atom bomb and its mushroom cloud were fresh in our minds. And then there was Dr. Freud, telling us stuff about ourselves that we didn't want to believe. It stands to reason that we'd distrust these guys.
In the remake, everyone is suspect. No one can be trusted. And as a statement about life in the second decade of the 21st century this is about as chilling as it gets.
Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Footloose: Dance Your Arse Off

The way the Movie Slut sees it, comparing a movie to its remake is like comparing siblings. Each is wonderful in its own way.
So, which is better the 1984 version of this feelgood dance movie or the flick now in theaters? Wrong question.
The right question is will you like it?
The gaggle of 13-year-old girls perched behind the MS in the theater adored the new movie, featuring stars only they would know. And they are the prime audience for his movie, which is also about misguided adult decisions and the frustration of being young and answerable to those same adults.
The MS only recognized two songs from the original film, which is too bad because the entire soundtrack had a way of forcing viewers into the aisles to join in on the fun.
Dancing is, after all, the physical expression of joy.
Click here and see if your feet don't start tapping.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Real Steel: Real Deal

The year is 2020 and humankind has not yet acquired universal dental insurance. You can tell by the toothy sneers and smiles on the faces of some of the characters in this not-so-futuristic flick.
That doesn't mean we haven't evolved.
Wind farms dot the landscape and humans no longer bash each others brains out in the ring. They now have robots to do the deed.
Atom, the underbot in this David and Goliath tale, is the steely star of this family-friendly film. Zeus is his nemesis. Boooooooo!
Hugh Jackman is fiercely fine as a Peter Pan of a dad. And then there's Dakota Goyo, who plays his precocious 11-year-old son — as wise as Yoda and as cute as Justin Bieber. Check out the hair.
Tap into your inner 12-year-old boy and enjoy the show. So what if it's predictable. It's such fun.

to be con'd

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ides of March: It Ain't Shakespeare

Everyone has feet of clay in this facile political drama based on the play "Farragut North." Sadly, only one character has a heart and he or she (MS gives nothing away.) comes to a very bad end.
"Ides" is a consummately cynical film. Self interest is the only motivation for every character. The problem with rampant cynicism is that it's one dimensional. I don't know about you, but the Movie Slut has never met such single-minded people.
If you're a cynic, you're probably saying she's lucky.
The characters (They can hardly be called people.) in this slick flick are no more than stick figures acting out the misanthropic message. Little effort is spent in understanding what really makes them tick. All MS is asking for is a little character development. Is that too much?
Stephan Myers (Ryan Gosling) is the press secretary for Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney). He's a political genius. How do we know? Because the movie tells us so. Unfortunately, he never exhibits behavior that's even remotely smart. And neither does anyone else, even the non-pols.
Sadly, the Movie Slut fears there's a large audience for this movie — people who take the easy way out, believing the worst of everyone but themselves. (How's that for cynicism?) She's not naive enough to think everyone's a Mother Teresa clone. It's just a lot more complicated.
So why see this movie? Because you'll witness some of today's best actors giving their best cynical performances, including Gosling, Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Marisa Tomei.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What's Your Number: Who's Counting?

This little number of a movie might just be a chick flick and a dick flick rolled into one. It is definitely not an ick flick, which is basically what a certain New York Times critic called it. He said the movie was "smutty" and compared it to "Bridesmaids," a pathetic flick in which bodily functions were the punch lines for failed jokes.
In deference to the aforementioned critic, "Number" tries a little too hard to be cool and shocking by tossing out references to genitalia every five minutes, but the Movie Slut gave it a pass because this film has so much more going for it.
The story revolves around a zany chick, Anna Faris, who's determined to keep the number of men she's slept with to its present double digit until she meets Mr. Right. Along the way, hilarity happens.
Some may find the movie sophomoric. So tap into your inner sophomore and enjoy the show.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mozart's Sister: A Film in Minor Key

Girls don't play the violin. Girls don't compose music. Girl's don't become artists. It's 1762 and Mozart's older sister is playing second fiddle (not literally, of course) to her prodigy brother.
A woman's place is in the bedroom and the delivery room. Whatever you do, don't buck the system.
Being a feminist, the Movie Slut, was programmed to embrace this fictionalized French costume drama set in an era even less gal-friendly than the 1950s. But although the costumes were sumptuous and the decors opulent, the movie was about as moving as rush hour traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway.
Several characters reciting their lines as if they were at a play reading. Maybe the director wanted to portray the passivity of women, but robbed of the passion the script talks about so much, it was difficult to empathize with the young woman robbed of her talent because of her sex. Now that's the saddest part of this film.
Consider staying home and listening to this or this.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Warrior: A Knockout

Just because guys are pounding each other into mulch doesn't mean "Warrior" is a dumb flick. Consider this: it also gives us Beethoven's Ode to Joy on the soundtrack, passages from Melville's "Moby Dick," and a refresher course in Newton's Laws of Physics. And that's not all. The story is, like, biblical, dude. As in the Good Book.

Maybe now the movie sounds like a three ring circus. But the Movie Slut assures you there's only one ring in which a winner-takes-all martial arts wackathon is taking place.

The real strength of this ambitious film is that director Gavin O'Connor makes us care —reely, reely care— about who wins.

And then there's the one-two punch of the casting. Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy as the muscle men and Nick Nolte playing sort of himself as a washed up trainer.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dolphin's Tale: A Winter's Tail

Finally a family flick without fart jokes or singing chipmunks.
Based on a true story, and with Winter the dolphin playing herself, this inspirational movie takes us back to the 1970s when kids road bikes without helmets and walked home from school without fear. OK, there were the requisite playground bullies but no Internet to bring them into your home.
Young Sawyer is having a hard time. Dad deserted him and now his cousin has joined the army. He's lost. Until he literally finds an injured dolphin on the beach.
The rest of the movie, beautifully acted by Ashely Judd, Harry Connick Jr, Morgan Freeman and Nathan Gamble, as Sawyer, weaves together the lives of those who swim with those who walk and illustrates how each enriches the other.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Moneyball: A Homerun

"How can you not be romantic about baseball?" asks Oakland A's General Manager Bill Beane (Brad Pitt) near the end of this fascinating baseball bio-pic.
A good question, especially since much of this flick is doing just that.
"Moneyball" takes us back to 2002, when a shallow-pockets Beane is assembling a team to compete with the Daddy Warbucks of baseball, the New York Yankees.
Enter Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), an ivy league geek with a passion for the national pastime. Brand devises a new method of selecting players based on math and computer magic. A desperate Beane signs on. Now we're ready to play ball.
Much of "Moneyball" takes place around conference tables not out on the ballfields. It could have been a strike out, but the film is also a character study of the general manager, once a ball player himself. His story, and the way it's brought to life by Pitt, make "Moneyball" a must see for anyone who loves the game. And that includes the Movie Slut.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Colombiana: It's Payback Time

Revenge is a dish best served by Zoe Saldana. The "Avatar" actress has landed on planet Earth to star in this action-packed revenge thriller. To enjoy this flick, you'll have to suspend with heaps of disbelief. It will be worth it.

We first meet young Cataleya (Saldana) as a child in Bogota, where the reason for her revenge obsession is established. Other girls might want to be ballerinas. She dreams of becoming an assassin.

Fast forward to Chicago ten years later. Cataleya is all grown up and ready for revenge. There's death by sharks and pit bulls in this movie. And Homeland Security might reconsider toothbrushes on planes. But despite the violence, Cataleya remains a sympathetic heroine. It's our empathy for her that makes this movie work and it's Saldana that pulls it all off. She moves like a panther in pursuit of her prey. She exudes grace and intelligence. It's doubtful that another actress could make this dark film such a glowing success.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Drive: Wheel Man Can't Walk

The first 30ish minutes of "Drive" are inspired. We meet the intriguing driver, who's not only fascinating because he's Ryan Gosling. He's a man of few words, as you'd be if you were clenching a toothpick between your teeth. We never even learn his name. He lives in LA and knows every one of the streets. He'd make a great taxi driver, but Robert De Niro already did that.
When the driver is not driving, he's fixing cars. Behind the wheel he's a whiz. When he steps onto the curb, not so much. He lives in the moment, has no past we learn of, as for the future, well the Movie Slut never gives away the end.
"Drive" zooms along at a nice clip until the driver meets a girl and then the movie sputters. (Call AAA, please.) It also spouts more blood than your typical vampire flick.
It could have been so much more than a mob flick, but in the end, that's exactly what it is. So, fuggedaboudit.
Or just revel in the first 30ish minutes and dig the driving techno music.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Don't Know How She Does It: Grown-up Chick Flick

Reasons to see this smile-a-minute flick.


1. We've all seen Sarah Jessica Parker dashing through the streets of Manhattan in stiletto Jimmy Choos. Now you can see her racing through the snow-covered cobblestone streets of Boston in limousine shoes. How does she do it?

2. A fun plot that remains realistic.

3. Emotional truth.

4. Revenge on mean stay-at-home moms who made us feel imperfect.

5. The dream team cast. SJP, as a floundering supermom, is joined by Pierce Brosnan, Kelsey Grammer, Greg Kinnear Olivia Munn, Christina Hendricks, Seth Meyers, Jane Curtin. How did the casting director do it?

Reason's not to see "I Don't Know How She Does It."


1. You've got an X and a Y chromosome.
2. You're a mean stay-at-home mom, who was oh, so, perfect. How did you do it?
On second thought, who cares?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sarah's Key: A real heartbreaker

With apologies to the cliché police, the MS wonders:
Do you think truth will free us or that ignorance is bliss? Your answer to this question will determine if this film is for you.

It's 1942 and tens of thousands of Jews are rounded up and taken to death camps. But this isn't Germany and the soldiers are not Nazis. This is France and those carrying out the despicable order are French collaborators.
The story of Sarah's key unfolds years later when a French journalist (Kristin Scott Thomas), who believes in truth telling, follows a trail that gradually reveals what is possibly the saddest story every told. Even when the truth threatens to destroy her own safe and comfortable life, she persists in chasing it and exposing it.
In the tradition of "Sophie's Choice," this film could be called "Sarah's Decision." Her decision haunted the rest of her life. Now, it will haunt you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Contagion: The handshake from hell

A hacking, phlegmy cough is the first human sound you hear in this frightening film about a new killer virus. Unfortunately, an identical cough echoed through the theater where the Movie Slut was watching this biological thriller. Maybe that's why she couldn't keep all the characters straight.
"Contagion," with its cast of too many, is an ambitious film. It sets out to uncover every aspect of this global crisis. We see members of the medical establishment working valiantly to understand exactly what they're fighting, then racing feverishly (sometimes literally) to create a vaccine that will end the pandemic.
We see politicians scrambling to contain the growing panic, some selfless, others self-serving. And since this is a modern-day take on an old plot, we also have a blogger. Is he a journalist speaking truth to power? Or a paranoid lunatic? Or a crass opportunist? The MS won't tell.
And then we have our ordinary Joe and Jane, who are just trying to stay alive till the end of the film. Played here by Matt Damon and Anna Jacoby-Heron, as his daughter.
Yes, a lot is going on and a lot of it is excellent. But as the movie zooms across continents to cover every possible eventuality, it seems to lose the human touch. In the end, the MS didn't care enough about any of these characters. Or maybe it was just the relentless coughing.
PS. "Contagion" begins on Day 2 of the pandemic and returns to Day 1 at the end. That's when we learn how it all started.
PPS. The amazing cast includes Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, Kate Winslet, Elliott Gould, Jennifer Ehle, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta (CNN) playing himself.
And what would the movie be without Josuha Pollock, who plays coughing man. The one in the movie. Not the one in the theater.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Debt: A Thriller Plus

When was the last time you saw a movie that riveted your attention to the screen? When was the last time you saw a movie that kept you thinking days after you left the theater? When was the last time you saw a movie that pulled at your heartstrings until they twanged like a wailing country and western guitar?
"The Debt" is all of the above.
The plot, which shuttles between 1965 and 1997, tells the story of a mission conducted in East Germany by three agents of Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service. And it is at once a crackerjack thriller, a poignant love story and a ethical conundrum. And the cast is perfection. Jessica Chastain and Helen Mirren share the role of Rachel Singer, the female operative, while Sam Worthington and Claran Hinds and are young and old David Peretz, and Marton Csokas and Tom Wilkinson are Stephan Gold.
It's not a perfect movie. The Movie Slut wishes one hokey scene was left on the cutting room floor. Still, this is a film you won't soon forget. It sweeps you up and pushes you to think and feel like no movie she's seen in a good long while.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our Idiot Brother: Who's the dummy?

Click here and listen and you'll experience the best part of this failed film.

OK, maybe the Movie Slut is being a bit harsh. No, this isn't such a miserable movie, it's just that she'd hoped for more. The plot has been done before and so much better. The guy (Paul Rudd) is a sweet simpleton without the wiles of more sophisticated adults. And in the end, it turns out that he's the one with the answers.

In this movie the other adults are his sisters, which might lead to a sexist interpretation. But the Movie Slut didn't go there. She saw this as a bigger story about grown up shortcomings and innocent childlike truths.

If only it had been done better and hadn't wasted the efforts of the talented Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel.

Wondering what Willie Nelson has to do with anything? He's all over the terrific soundtrack and is the name of our so-called-idiot's dog.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Brighten Rock: Noir, Noirer, Noirish

"Brighten Rock" is film noir at its darkest, but also happens to be about the brightest of subjects: miracles. Based on a Graham Greene novel about a small time hood who's a big time psychopath, the movie moves the timetable from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Leonardo DiCaprio lookalike Sean Riley is the gangster whose involvement with Rose, (Andea Riseborough), a teen-aged witness to his crime, serves as the heart of the unsettling plot.
Everyone but the naive Rose is out for themselves in this story and that includes the hard-bitten owner of the tea shop (Helen Mirren) where she works.
"Brighten Rock" is not a great movie. What kept the Movie Slut on the edge of her seat was her concern for Rose, who hobbled, sometimes literally, on the edge of a rocky cliff.
Supposedly the end of the movie is a departure from the book but the MS thinks it works brilliantly. After all, miracles do happen.

Chasing Madoff: A Wistleblower's Tale

Meet Harry Markopolos. It took him four hours to discover Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme and eight years to convince anyone that the guy was a crook, and then only when the stock market tanked leaving the Madoff mess to unravel on it's own, bringing down millions of investors.
Poor Harry. He was the guy screaming wolf when the wolf was at the door and nobody believed him.
This interesting, frustrating documentary follows Harry's growing obsession with the Madoff scheme, his attempts to convince the SEC that the investor was a fraud and his efforts to get the press to take his allegations seriously.
A lesser man — you might say a saner man — would have given up. But luckily he was neither.
The film leaves us wondering why the SEC failed so miserably at its job. Were they just incompetent or were they complicit in the hoax?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Earth: Out of this world

A second Earth, a replica of our planet, hovers over the action in this haunting, thought-provoking sci-fi drama. At once, it changes everything and nothing. If you've ever looked to the heavens and wondered, this movie will resonate with you.
Earth 2, as the new planet is called, appears for the first time at the beginning of the film and sets the plot in motion, causing a tragic encounter between a bright teenager and a happy young married musician. But most of the action takes place four years later.
Earthlings have learned that we each have a double living on our twin planet. Communication is established and a space trip is planned.
"Another Earth" is a spare story about regret and second chances, forgiveness and repair. It haunts with its promise and stuns with its beauty.
Actress Brit Marling, who co-wrote the script with director Mike Cahill, is a mesmerizing screen presence. Her performance and that of William Mapother contribute to the gravitational pull of this absolutely-must-see movie.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One Day:

Four reasons to see this flick:
1. To observe the plethora of hairdos modeled by Anne Hathaway.
2. To relive the tackiest moments of the 1980s.
3. To remember how much you loved "When Harry Met Sally."
4. As a cautionary tale about how gimmicks sink movies.

The conceit in this majorly disappointing dud is that a couple, Emma and Dex, who may or may not be soulmates, touch bases one day a year. The movie hangs on a will-they-or-won't-they theme. Will they "do it?" Will they do more and get hitched? Which is fine — maybe — if the movie-goer cared one fig about the characters involved. And that includes the eminently annoying secondary ones.

The Movie Slut supposes a certain segment of the audience will find "One Day" a delicious, romantic date night movie. We even have some "Love Story" elements thrown in to twang the heartstrings.

Still, in her book the likable Anne couldn't even lift this bomb of a movie. As for her sidekick, Jim Sturgess will have you begging for Hugh Grant.

And you thought that sentence would never be written.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

30 Minutes or Less: Less is Less

Question: What's Jesse Eisenberg doing in a hapless lowball comedy like this? Did the ace actor read the script? Did "The Social Network" star check out the other cast members? Did he owe someone bigtime? Is he slumming?
There's a moment in this moronic movie when it actually seems like a sentient being was at work. Jesse is a pizza delivery guy who works for an operation that promises speedy delivery. Later in the plot, he uses this skill set (the only one he has) in a car chase with the ridiculous bad guys. Alas, the moment zooms by leaving movie-goers wondering if it were just a fluke.
So how bad is "30 Minutes or Less?"
Imagine you're locked in a room with a bunch of tween boys, a couple of kegs of beer, and a dictionary of raunchy words.
Yes, that bad.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Glee,The 3D Concert Movie: Not for Gleeks Only

First there was the TV show. Then there was the concert. Now, there's the movie of the concert.
The Movie Slut isn't a gleek. But she does glike the TV show, and she was pleasantly surprised that the movie was more than kids singing and dancing, which, after all, is free each week on television. What enriches the movie experience is the interspersing of the musical numbers with testimonials from real fans, who explain their affinity for the fictitious nerds, wackos and weirdos who join the glee club instead of the football team or cheer leading squad.
These real high schoolers, including a girl with Aspergers syndrome, a dwarf, and a gay guy, who was forced to change schools when he was outed, are the true stars of the movie.
Still, all is not perfect with "Glee, the 3D Concert Movie." It's about the 3D. Totally unnecessary and annoying, especially because the movie costs more and delivers less. The Movie Slut would have gloved to see this flick in good old 2D.
Enough already!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Help: Lest we forget.

The tragic and outrageous tale of American segregation has been told before. But not this way. Based on a book by author Kathryn Stockett, this movie brings viewers into Mississippi homes in the early 1960s to witness, firsthand, how black domestics were treated by the white women who hired them.
The jobs, a step up from slavery, which found them cooking, cleaning a caring for white women's babies, were the best these maids could get. Everyone knew that and behaved accordingly.
It would be easy for this movie to slide into a good-vs-evil scenario, in which black and white are reversed. But the beauty of "The Help" is that it doesn't. Not every white woman is a Dickensian evil-doer. In fact, one of the most delightful characters is a "white trash" woman ostracized by the gals of the ladies' league.
Jessica Chastain, who gained a voluptuous 15 pounds for the role, is an excellent foil for the "refined," better make that snooty, young women. And Emma Stone, the movie's star is as terrific as we've come to expect her.
And then there's Viola Davis It's almost scary how she slunk back into the role of a subservient domestic with virtually no rights under the corrupt Jim Crow system.
Yes, we know about separate and unequal, but the strength of this must-see movie is that it shows us, as if for the first time, how heinous this chapter of American history really was.

If you have a heart, bring tissues. You'll weep for these women and also for our misguided past.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness

In the small theater where the Movie Slut saw this inspiring documentary, there is a tradition. Before the movie begins, theater personnel amble down the center aisle to greet moviegoers and announce the name of the film they're about to see. (On the outside chance they're in the wrong theater? Or just a nicety? Whatever.)
On this day, the young man who had this job admitted he had no clue how to pronounce the name of the movie. Still, the tradition continued.
It was a fitting beginning for the story of the renown Yiddish writer whose most famous character, Tevye, the milkman, the man who sang about tradition, is probably known to the theater greeter, even if he didn't realize that this "Fiddler on the Roof" character sprung from the pen of the man whose name he could not pronounce.
Yiddish, btw, is defined in the documentary as the "in language of those on the outs." (Not necessarily a direct quote.)
It was the language of Eastern European Jews — part Hebrew, part German with a little Slavic thrown in — in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the chosen written language of the man whose stories entertained these Jews at a time when their traditions were threatened.
The film introduces him as a man with bushels and baskets of stories and shows how his life was many stories, each with its highs and lows.
"Laughing in the Darkness" is not for every moviegoer but it will enrich every moviegoer who sees it.
P.S. It's Shah-lum A-lech-hum.