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.