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.