Friday, April 29, 2011

Love Hate Love: A Dynamite Doc

Executive producer Sean Penn with documentarians Dana Nachman & Don Hardy.

Full disclosure: One of the documentarians who brought us this powerful, moving film is the Movie Slut's daughter. However, as a trained journalist, you can rely on MS to be completely and utterly objective. At least that's what she says.

So, here goes.
LHL, which was brilliantly filmed on five continents, weaves together three stories about people who suffered crushing losses in terrorist attacks and somehow managed to turn their grief into hope for thousands of others. This exceptional documentary introduces the viewer to a New York couple who lost their 25-year-old son in the Twin Towers collapse; an English women whose sister was killed in a London bus bombing; and a young Australian man who lost both legs in a Bali nightclub bombing. Each of them came — independently — to the same conclusion. They would not be destroyed by these harrowing experiences and they would not allow hate to prevail over love.
The film, which was executive produced by Sean Penn, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this week to an enthusiastic audience. It's not yet known who will buy this inspiring documentary or where it will be shown next. The MS will keep you posted.
To read more about the film, click here.
To read more about the filmmakers, click here.
Click here to see a trailer.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Conspirator: Not Guilty as Charged

We can't be sure if Mary Surratt was guilty of conspiring to kill Abraham Lincoln, but we can be sure that the critics were guilty of ignoring this movie's merit. Oh how condescending they've been. Making matters worse, they insisted that the movie is a statement about trying suspected terrorists in military courts as opposed to civilian ones.
Oh, come on guys, this is a human drama about a woman whose life is on the line for a crime she may not have committed and a government that desperately wanted to give the grieving American people a person to blame for the loss of their leader.
The Movie Slut thinks this flick is about the injustice of "justice" and the victims of this system, as well as a cautionary tale about the horror of capital punishment.
Robin Wright is Mary and James McAvoy is the northern lawyer who defends her against his wishes. It's a flick worth seeing, even if director Robert Redford didn't breath much life into the doomed Mary.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Soul Surfer: No Wipe-out here

Based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton (left) "Soul Surfer" fits neatly into the Movie Slut's favorite genre: Films about triumphing over adversity and striving for success. Having said all that, "SS" loses points by being too preachy about the role religion plays after the 13-year-old is maimed by a shark. That's what the movie tells us, but what it shows is quite different. It reveals the true grit that enabled her to jump back on the surfboard and compete again.
It shows that her determination is the greatest part of her success, but the movie also brings home the role of her super-supportive family with Dennis Quaid as her father and Helen Hunt, as Mom.
Still, the stars of "SS" are the Pacific waves and the girl who was born to surf.
See Bethany surf: and the competition.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jane Eyre: See it again for the first time

One hundred and sixty-four years after Charlotte Bronte wrote her powerful Goth novel about a young woman whose personal strength and unshakable moral code allows her to prevail against the harshest existence, the story is playing out again. And though you may have read the book and seen one of the six previous movie adaptations, don't miss this one staring Mia Wasikowska.

How drab and forbidding her surroundings are. Even the grand home from which she's banished as a child is hardly bright and cheerful. When she walks outdoors, her path is a maze squeezed between stone walls and high shrubbery. Is there any hope for her to break out of this harsh, confining life?

Jane Eyre is what we call today a coming-of-age story and it's a love story, too. A bleak one. But Michael Fassbender's Mr. Rochester is a sympathetic soul.

Every one of the characters we meet in this haunting drama is a victim of a social system that failed all but the very few at the top. Sound familiar?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hanna: Who's Her Daddy?

The whole isn't always greater than the sum of its parts. Take "Hanna." Breath-taking cinematography + breathless acting + breath-defying Chemical Bothers music + breath-holding plot + breath-stopping back story = deflating, disappointing flick.
The problem?
Director Joe Wright's blood lust and obsession with sadistic violence. (Oh, so artfully choreographed. We're supposed to be impressed, a la "Pulp Fiction." Sorry, Joe. You're no Quentin.)
"Hanna," starring Saorise Rona, completes the trilogy of recent movies celebrating super-human Grrrrl power. First we had Sucker Punch," then "Red Riding Hood,"" now "Hanna."
And an intriguing character she is. Raised in an isolated snow-crusted wood, she's set free when she comes of age.
With due respect to Janis, freedom is a word for everything you can lose.
Why is this gal an endangered chick? Who's out to get her? Can her powers prevail?
Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana join her in this brutal romping blood fest. This grim Grimm fairy tale should have at least equaled the sum of its parts.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Win Win: Winning

Previously in the Movie Slut:
MS was disgusted by Paul Giamatti's performance in "Barney's Version". Well, now he's back in her good graces, starring as a lawyer and family man who makes a whopper of an ethically-questionable decision. And he's not the only character in this touching, quasi-comedy who's less than perfect. (Now, that would have made a better title for this delightful film.)
The movie is saved from the fate of being just another Giamatti showcase (Oh, he's so pudgily adorable and doughily endearing — puh-leeze) by the young man, Alex Shaffer, who turns up on his doorstep and manages to more than hold his own on the screen.
Thank you so much, Alex.
Like its characters, this movie is far from perfect. Too many unanswered questions. Still, if you're looking to avoid 3D at the multiplex and get into some genuine depth, this flick's for you.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Of Gods and Men: Love and War

The eight Trappists monks living in the Atlas Mountains have devoted their lives to prayer, service and humility. Still, they couldn't escape the bloody civil war that tore through Algeria in the 1990s. They're urged to leave, to escape back to France, their homeland. Instead, they chose to stay and continue their work with the poor villagers.
"Of Gods and Men," which is based on a true story, proves that "Hurt Locker" and "Platoon" aren't the only kind of anti-war films and that the banality and insanity of war can be revealed quietly and stoically.
The movie is not for the short-attention-span set, but for those who can be moved to tears by a stubborn jut of a noble jaw or a resigned wince of fear.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Source Code: Time is on his side

The Source Code is not about time travel. Or so we are told. It's about time recalibration. Whatever that is. And it has something to do with quantum physics. (Failed that in high school.) This explanation made the Movie Slut's head throb, luckily understanding how it works is not integral to enjoying this Ground Hog Dayish thriller.
Jake Gyllenhaal is in the Bill Murray role, the guy who has to do the do-overs until he gets it right. And he has only eight minutes to get it done.
The movie has it problems in the beginning, when movie-goers will surely figure out some stuff before they should, and the end, or shall we say ends, since there seemed to be three or four tacked on.
But oh, the fun, fun, fun in the middle.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Red Riding Hood: What big eyes you have.

'Tis the season for saucer eyes, plumped lips and not so helpless damsels in distress. (See "Sucker Punch" below.) Now we have Amanda Seyfried as the red-cloaked heroine in this new version of the old fairy tale. And it's a mighty good retelling of the ancient story.
In keeping with our 21st-century fascination with morphing creatures, our new villain is no boring old ordinary wolf. It's a werewolf. (Take that "Twilight Saga.")
The setting is an isolated medieval village transfixed by fear. The old nemesis has returned and everyone is suspect.
Does grandma (played suspiciously by Julie Christie)transform into the four-legged canibal upon the full moon? Or is it one of Red Riding's two strapling suitors? Or is it the Gary Oldman character, who comes to town to slay the beast.
This new tale is a mystery — a who done it. And howling fun at that.