Monday, November 26, 2012

Life of Pi: Oscar Calling

To call this magnificent movie an adventure story, a survival epic or a tale of faith is to diminish the film's true purpose. It's about believing — or not believing — and while it doesn't preach and is never ponderous, it makes some very good points. It aims to make the viewer think.

All this is tied up in a tale about a shipwrecked teen, enroute with his family from India to Canada, who's lifeboat, replete with a Bengal tiger (maybe), ultimately winds up on the coast of Mexico. What happened during that long and dangerous voyage is at once frightening and fanciful, breathtakingly beautiful and horrifyingly bestial.

Visually the film is as exquisite as any The Movie Slut has seen. And since she did not see the 3D version, she will be returning for a second screening.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph: No Fixer-Upper

Disney's new kid flick is not high on 5-year-old Charlie's list of movie favorites.

How much did he enjoy this film about a bad-guy video game character, who yearns, not only to be good, but to be a hero?

"Not so much," Charlie said, a deep sigh of ennui edging his voice.

Let's just say this movie is no Shrek, no Mr. Popper's Penguins, no Winnie the Pooh.

Sadly, Charlie's adult companion, The Movie Slut, didn't have a much higher opinion, though she did enjoy the scene in which Wreck-It joins a support group for game show villains.

What wrecked Wreck-It was a meandering plot that took Ralph on an odyssey through several other video games as well as a Grand Central Terminal-like game central. Even the voices of Sarah Silverman and John C. Reilly couldn't save this disappointing flick.

It was all too confusing for a 5 year old. And probably a 7 year old, too.

"Annie wouldn't like this movie," Charlie insisted, speaking for his older sister.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lincoln: The End Justifies the Means

It was Dec. 1865. President Lincoln knew the Civil War was ending. But he had one more task to accomplish before the men marched off the battlefield.

He yearned to pass the 13th amendment to the constitution, a piece of legislation that would abolish slavery. Alas, not all of Congress agreed.

If a 21st-century politician manipulated the political process as our 16th president did, there would be a great hew and cry. Even shouts for impeachment. But then, there were no videos back then. No proof of what went on in the dark corners and darker side streets of history.

The brilliance of this gripping film is that it spends two and a half hours dealing with the passage of a constitutional amendment and manages to keep us riveted to the screen and wanting more.

We also learn about the president's family life and relationship with his wife. And then there are the characters, in various degrees of shadiness, who helped him end the outrage that was slavery.

Daniel Day Lewis, an Englishman, manages to channel Lincoln in all his gangly homespun grandeur. The Movie Slut had hoped for an American actor, but Lewis won her over, as surely as he'll make you a believer, too.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Sessions: A Rare Gem

There are many kinds of paralysis: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.

Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes) had the kind that was a result of childhood polio. Yet, his mind, soul, and feelings, both physical and emotional, were sharper than most of the people we meet on or off the screen.

This story takes place in 1988, about ten years before his death. He's a 38-year-old virgin, an increasingly reluctant one, who wants to know and  experience what all the fuss is about.

Enter Cheryl, Helen Hunt, a sex surrogate, who embarks on the challenge of her career.

The brilliance of this movie is in the beauty bestowed on the sex act, especially in a medium that usually portrays sexuality as a crass, gymnastic act devoid of intimacy.

O'Brien was a poet and writer, in fact, this movie was based on an article he wrote titled, "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate." The film is sprinkled with his poems, other writings and wit. It's a flick that reminds the Movie Slut why she's in love with the movies.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Skyfall: Classsic with a Twist

Daniel Craig as Bond VI

Fifty years, and five James Bonds ago, Sean Connery starred in "Dr. No," the first Ian Fleming spy novels to hit the big screen.
Those were the digital-free days when suave and daring men fought evil and toyed with leggy beauties.
So, what did Hollywood have to do to bring Bond into the 21st Century?

1. Bring in a computer nerd
                                       2. Supply only one Bond babe, who's quickly killed off to avoid the sticky sexploitation issue.

We've still got the martini that's shaken, not stirred. The Lambourghini whiz-mobile turns up to take a spin. And a few other winks and nods to the past are tucked in for fans who may have seen the other 23 flicks.

What else will we see?

A thrill-a-minute movie with stylishly staged flight and flight scenes that drum up the adrenaline on and off screen. James darts from London to Shanghai to Macau to his native Scotland, where we learn a bit of his back story.

The excitement at the multi-plex was palpable last night and new showings were quickly added. The audience laughed and shouted and it was all part of the fun that is a James Bond movie.

And then there's the plot, which revolves around a stolen...
Oh, who care? It's just an excuse for a new JB film.

                                                                                 Bad Guy Javier Barden had the audience laughing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cloud Atlas: Six Stories in Search of Answers

Past, present and future collide in this ambitious 172-minute movie that brings together six stories determined to tackle the biggest questions about human existence.

Does it accomplish this lofty goal?

More less than more in an entertaining fashion.

Cloud Atlas is at its best when each story plays out its message. Less successful when it devolves into speechiness and preachyness.

With actors, including Halle Berry and Tom Hanks figuring in each vignette, the chances of gimmickry were high, but generally avoided.

If you're not a fan of time travel and sci fi, you might skip this one.
The Movie Slut hopes to see it again.
But then, she's the Movie Slut.

Flight: The Days of Wings and 4 Roses

For many, Flight is known as "that movie about an airplane crash." And that's too bad.

Sure, a horrifying fall from the sky does take place in this film about an ace pilot who destroys every other aspect of his life. But moviegoers quickly realize that this story is more about human failure than aeronautical disaster.

Denzel Washington is Whip Whitaker, a deeply flawed human being. And though his story takes on high drama because of his profession, we all know people like him.

Washington loses himself in this character to the extent that the Movie Slut forgot she was watching one of the top actors of his time. Like others in the theater, he was Whip and his every self-destructive act felt like a loved one was descending more deeply into the abyss.

And that is the pull and power of this must-see movie.
When was the last time you became one with the action on the screen?

The Other Son: Big Time Identity Crises

Who are you? A product of your DNA? Or a result of your environment?
This fine Israeli film takes on the old nature/nurture debate and ratchets it up to new heights.

This is the story of two teens who discover startling information that goes to the very core of their beings. Born on the same day, in the same hospital, their lives could not have been more different. One is Jewish and lives in Tel Aviv. The other is an Arab living in the West Bank.

Or so they think.

This thoughtful and thought-provoking movie focuses on the boys and their families as they deal with the shocking reality that the teens are not who everyone thought they were.

The Other Son takes on a subject fraught with emotion, controversy and steeped in a tragic, tangled history. Can all this be accomplished in seventy-five minutes?

The Movie Slut thinks not. But it's an excellent beginning.