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.