Sunday, October 28, 2012

Chasing Mavericks: A Bumpy Ride

Once The Maverick was the abominable snowman of surfing. Few believed it existed.

This true story is about a boy who believed in the giant wave and who, with the help of his mentor, learned to ride the big one.

Gerard Butler is the mentor. Jonny Weston the boy, Jay Morarity, a California surfer, whose life was tough and who found joy riding the waves.

It's a touching and —spoiler alert — sad story and not for children. Still the glorious photography and appealing characters make it a fine flick for anyone with even a modicum of interest in this thrilling sport.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Paperboy: Tennessee Williams meets Quentin Tarantino

Deranged characters. A dysfunctional family. Marauding alligators. Buckets and buckets of sweat.

 It's all there in this overheated saga of lust, love, fury, fixation, murder and mayhem that plays out in a long, hot, swampy Florida summer.

Matthew McConaughey, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, returns to his hometown to investigate the incarceration of John Cusack for the murder of a sonabitch sheriff. Spurred on by the vampy, trampy Nicole Kidman, who's engaged to Cusack's character, our would-be hero proves anything but.

Zac Effron is McConaughey's 20-year-old brother. He's quit college and is about to get an education beyond books.

One outrageous, outlandish scene after another exposes these characters for what they are and few are pretty under their handsome veneers. We've got the bigot, the snob, the sexual deviant, the murderer, the thief and, not to forget, the alligator disengorger.

View at your own risk.
The Movie Slut was glad she did.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Seven Psychopaths: There Will Be Blood

Blood squirts, spurts, splatters, streams and gushes in this absurdist comedy about, well, you know what.
Colin Farrell, the lone character whose problem is nothing more pathological than a virulent case of alcoholism, is a screenwriter suffering from  writer's block. When we meet him, he has nothing more than a title for his new play.

Yes, it has to do with the number seven.

Farrell makes a hysterical ( in both senses of the word) violence-adverse straight man in the middle of ricocheting bullets and sloshing blood. He may not be writing about what he knows, but that's where his strange assortment of friends come in. To his surpirse, they know first hand about psychopathic behavior.

This flick is only mildly amusing, but highly entertaining thanks to a stellar cast, which includes  Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Tom Waits. Yeah, that Tom Waits.

Seven Psychopaths has earned a reputation as being uber-gory. True. But it's Hollywood blood that's streaming. Which makes it OK to laugh.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Argo: Greatest Story Never Told

Movies based on real-life events, even when those incidents are compelling, can be pale shadows of history.

This is not the case with Argo, which takes us back to 1979 and the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The larger story about the storming of the American embassy, which resulted in a harrowing 444-day standoff, is well known. But Argo focuses on an aspect of that international disaster that most Americans knew nothing about.

And the less you know before you buy your ticket for this excellent, edge-of-your-seat thriller, the more exciting it will be.

This means avoiding tell-all movie trailers and reviews that give away the plot. (You might run out for popcorn when the trailer hits the screen.)

All you need to know about this film directed by Ben Affleck, and staring Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin, is that it's a must see. Do we hear Oscar calling?

You'll thank The Movie Slut for telling you this and nothing more.

Pitch Perfect: "Glee" Meets "Scream"

Sometimes The Movie Slut wonders if professional critics don't even see some of the films they review, especially when the flick is clearly aimed at less discriminating teens.

Why else would a reviewer for a prestigious publication say PP is a clone of other movies about singing competitions?

No. No. And No.

Just as Scream is a parody of horror movies, PP pokes fun at Glee and its clones, both on the big and small screens.

The closer you are to high school, the more you'll laugh at the antics of this all-girl college acapella group. The teens in the audience on a recent afternoon registered a laugh a minute. For The Movie Slut, it was an occasional chuckle.

 Still some of the music made up for some of the lame jokes.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Oranges: Tart & Juicy

Talk about all American movies! This one is about the pursuit of happiness.
But what happens when one person's happiness causes the unhappiness of all those around him?
That question is at the heart of this interesting, thought-provoking, and funny, yes, funny movie.

The Oranges is a story about two New Jersey families living the American dream. (This is possible in the Garden State —really.) But these families, despite lovely homes, healthy grown children and no financial problems, only seem to be happy.

The emotional chaos that erupts when two family members veer onto an unconventional path forces the others to examine their lives and come to some surprising revelations.

Finally, we have a film that's brave enough to question the formulaic beliefs about happiness that mar so many of our movies. 

The Oranges is a comedy. But it will leave you thinking — seriously.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Master: A Masterpiece?

It's obvious that The Master is a big budget film. It's 150-minutes long. The cinematography, whether we're out a sea or trudging through the dusty desert, is exquisite.
  At times the stars, Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, teeter on the edge of over-acting, but they never step over the line. And the soundtrack by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead is haunting and amazing.
     You might have read that this marathon of a movie is powerful, masterful, a tremendous tour de force.
     "Not so much," says the Movie Slut.
     The problem is the plot.
     Set in 1950, it's the story of a cult leader (Hoffman), a megalomaniac and possibly a charlatan, and his acolyte (Phoenix), a WWII vet whose sociopathic behavior goes beyond PTSD.
     The Master, whose teachings include curing followers of past life disorders (and that's not the wackiest of his ideas), experiences a profound connection to the newbie.
      Maybe they met in Prussia before the First World War. Maybe he recognizes his own animal passions. Maybe it's a homosexual thing.
     Whatever it might be, movie-goers will probably lose interest about 60 minutes after the opening credits. Just ask the Movie Slut's companion. He fell asleep.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower:

A mystery is at the core of this touching coming-of-age flick.

What is troubling Charlie?

He's a much-bullied, friendless high school freshman who spent the previous year in a hospital, but we know it's not a physical ailment. Throughout the movie we get quickie flashbacks and cryptic remarks that don't as much provide clues, as remind us that his problem is deeper than a case of garden variety teenage angst.

Meanwhile, Charlie finds two outcast friends who change his friendless status. These friendships take over the movie. In fact, maybe the Movie Slut was remiss, but she nearly forgot about Charlie's illness, until...

As the movie ends, we learn what's bothering Charlie.
No, the Movie Slut will not give away the ending to this endearing and engrossing film. She'll just say it took her by surprise.