Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Psst See It

Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty

In 1939, James Thurber wrote the short story.
In 1947, Danny Kaye starred in the movie.
Now, Ben Stiller is Walter Mitty in the remake.

It's been said that Thurber hated the first movie. We'll never know what he'd think of the third incarnation of his story about a timid young man who escapes his dreary life by daydreaming about great adventures fraught with danger.

But the Movie Slut loved it.

Stiller is an ideal Mitty. Today we call this daydreaming "zoning out" and there's fun and humor in his transitions from shy, awkward office wonk to swashbuckling adventurer. Kristin Wiig is also right on as his love interest. And Sean Penn, in a cameo, as the true adventurer who lures Walter away from his safe existence, gives an amazing performance.

Some of the modern flourishes in the movie work better than others and the tacked-on editorializing about the treatment of downsized employees belongs in another film.

Still this flight of fancy soars. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street: Hear Him Roar

Debauched. Excessive. Over the top.
That's what critics are saying about this Martin Scorsese flick.

The Movie Slut wonders where they were when Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained was oozing blood all over the multiplexes. Oh, how the critics loved it.

Once again violence is applauded while sex is panned. What does that say about a culture? 

Wolf is long. A minute shy of three hours. And nudity is plentiful. Every scene isn't palatable. But it has Leondardo DiCaprio in the starring role of Jordon Belfort, a real-life sociopathic Wall Street swindler, who drinks, drugs, parties and parades around half dressed for much of the movie.

DiCaprio is riveting, even with his clothes on and, unlike American Hustle, the story is easy to follow.

What's missing from this tour-de-force is an editor who'd have left about sixty minutes on the cutting room floor.
As they say, everyone needs an editor, even Martin Scorsese.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis: Where Have All the Folk Songs gone?

"Save your money," a guy leaving the theater told the small group waiting to see this flick. You might say he snarled this suggestion.

"Everyone's a critic," a man in the group said sarcastically.
"We didn't ask for his opinion," a woman added.

Happily, the self-anointed critic was wrong. This movie about a struggling folk singer in 1961 was well worth the price of admissions.

It may not be the cheeriest film at the multiplex. But the music is fine, the early-'60s Greenwich Village scene is accurate and the acting is superb. Star Oscar Isaac is joined on screen by Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and Justin Timberlake, who you surely remember, can sing.

The film says a lot about surviving as a creative artist in a world where even real critics aren't any more knowledgeable than the big mouth leaving the theater.

Here's some of what you'll hear.

American Hustle: Don't Get Conned

Do you feel like your life is speeding ahead in fast forward mode? Do you ever wish to slow down time? If you've answered "yes" to these questions, then American Hustle is the movie for you. Its running time is 2 hours and 9 minutes. But you'll feel like you've been stuck in that multiplex seat for twice as long.

Sure there are some clever and funny moments in this flick. Unfortunately most occur before the opening credits.

In a nutshell, this is a movie about a a couple of small-time con artists (Amy Adams and Christian Bale), who get in over their heads. It's 1978, which the costume designer deemed license to create the tackiest wardrobe ever. All those boobs!

But maybe the director is most to blame. The over-acting is enough to crush the most enthusiastic moviegoers.

Bradley Cooper, whose been reliable as a sterling actor BH (Before Hustle), is barely watchable. Ditto for Jeremy Renner. Amy Adams, fares somewhat better, but some grossly unflattering shots of her arms might haunt you for days. Only Jennifer Lawrence, cast as the con man's dimwit wife, is truly fall-off-your-seat funny.

The Movie Slut knows what you're thinking if you've read other reviews. But don't get conned into seeing this dud. Especially during the holiday season when new movies seem to be opening every nanosecond. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Finally, a film that goes down very nicely without a spoon full of sugar, or even a bucket of popcorn, for that matter. It's the story of how the movie musical Mary Poppins made it to the big screen despite its reluctant author.

Emma Thompson plays the humorless and demanding P.L. Travers, who was pursued by Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) for more than twenty years before the movie was finally made in 1961.

Lest you forgot, Mr. Banks was the father in the original movie and what you might not know is that the character was based on Travers' father. The Movie Slut will not give away another fact. She will say that the brilliant original music and a compelling story, which evolves beautifully and is fed by touching flashbacks, makes this a must-see film this holiday season. You'll laugh. You'll cry. What else could a moviegoer want?

Out of the Furnace: Into the Multiplex

In a hardscrabble blue-collar town, there lived two brothers.

Russell (Christain Bale) works in the mill, on the furnace, to be exact. He's the good brother if you ignore some over drinking and vehicular manslaughter that land him in the big house.

 Rodney is the bad brother. He's just returned from his fourth deployment in Afghanistan and is out of work. Lest you think this flick's about the unjust treatment of returning vets, think again. We soon learn that Rodney (Casey Affleck) has always been trouble. He's an issuey guy and one of those issues is gambling.

This is a gritty movie with Woody Harrelson as a drug addicted and selling mountain lowlife adding grime to the grit. The Movie Slut would say, "skip it" unless you're the macho type with a penchant for blood and misplaced guts. But thanks to primo acting (Sam Shepard's also in the cast) and ace photography, she deems it watchable.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Book Thief: Watch, Don't Read

The Movie Slut almost skipped this one.
The book.

She tried to read the novel, but the obnoxious narrator kept interrupting the story to inject his banal observations.

Luckily, he's less intrusive in the flick allowing the captivating narrative to pull her in and keep her interested.

This is a World War II story, which takes place in a small German village. If you've ever wondered how the German people allowed Nazi atrocities to continue, this sheds light on the helplessness of these simple folks, some of whom did manage to help Hitler's victims. But the film is about more than that.

It's also about the magic of words, particularly those sandwiched between two covers. Those who love books are well aware of the transportive nature of reading — the joy of cracking open a book and being swept away by words that spring to life.

And there couldn't be a more timely moment to tell this sorrowful, yet uplifting, tale. We have, after all, entered the era when tablets are replacing tomes.

Ask the Movie Slut how she feels about this digital development and she answers with a question.
"Can you imagine a movie called "The Kindle Thief?"

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nebraska: Family Ties

Everything comes together in this thoughtful film about the family ties that bind these characters together. Exactly what those ties are made of is open to interpretation. Maybe it's love.

When the movie opens, we see a grisled old man (Bruce Dern) trudging along the road. Beaten down by drink, age and neglect, he appears unable to make it for a block. We soon learn he's on his way from Montana to Nebraska to retrieve the million dollars promised him in a sweepstakes letter.

His son (Will Forte) tries to convince him the letter is a scam. Instead, the father convinces him to make the road trip.

Photographed in black and white, with a soulful score that captures the flatness of the heartland, Nebraska opens a window onto this father/son relationship, the father's secrets, the dynamic between other family members and the old man's need to believe in his supposed windfall.

The Movie Slut appreciates how questions resonate, remain unanswered and provide food for thought.

Philomena: Past Perfect

Judi Dench is a marvel in this movie as an Irish woman who gave birth out of wedlock when she was a teenager in 1952, was forced to give up her son, and sets out to find him 50 years later.

Steve Coogan, a journalist without a job, reluctantly signs on to accompany her in the search and write the human interest story he considers to be below him.

Sadly, this heartbreaking film is based on a true story and one that wasn't unique in 1950s Ireland.

As the journalist, Coogan reveals what it's like to chase a story and stick it out when all his work threatens to go up in smoke.

 But the movie belongs to Dench, whose performance is spot on. She suffers, yet has an inner strength and resilience that, at times, seems super human.

A mother's love has never been portrayed as well.

Delivery Man: Right On Schedule

Vince Vaughn has made a career out of playing a clueless, motor-mouthed man-child whose crusty exterior all but hides an inner sweetness.

In his newest flick, he's still an oversized Peter Pan, driving a delivery truck for his butcher father, but his inner nice guy breaks through and it's delightful to see.

What can the Movie Slut divulge that won't give away the entire plot? Let's just say that about two decades earlier he made some deliveries that now thrust him into a new role in life, one in which he not only faces responsibility but flourishes in it.

Vaughn was made for this part and he's made it his own.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dallas Buyers Club: Can You Buy in?

Twenty years ago, the quintessential AIDS movie hit the big screens. Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks, revealed the heartbreak and injustice experienced by those who were dying from this brutal disease.

Since then, other movies and Broadway shows have brought the tragic truth about this killer disease to those lucky enough to be unaffected.

Now, the question is, do we need another AIDS movie, especially since drug regimens have changed the landscape for those who are now living with, as opposed to dying from, the disease.

Enter an emaciated Matthew McConaughey as a straight dude who's HIV-positive and given 30 days to live. A tough guy, infected by a dirty needle, he's not about to give up.

The year is 1985 and he's willing to fight the establishment to save his life. Along the way, he's befriended by a lovable transvestite (Jared Leto in an Oscar-worthy performance) and the Dallas Buyers Club comes to life.

The Movie Slut thinks this film, while not too little, might be too late. Still, she was mesmerized by the incredible performances. 

Kill Your Darlings: It's not a Howl

If you're interested in learning more about beat poet Allen Ginsberg's development as the guy who took the rules and rhyme out of short-form literature, you can skip this flick.

If you're interested in his awakening as a homosexual, then by all means see this one.

The year is 1944, Ginsberg's freshman and only year at Columbia University, and this son of a traditional poet and his emotionally fragile wife, has entered a new world. Actor Daniel Radcliff does a serviceable job of portraying the cluelessness of the young Ginsberg as he meets a group of contemporaries who also rebel against the literary and heterosexual establishments.

These men include Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. But the most important in this movie is Lucien Carr, a handsome seducer whose own seduction adds drama to this movie.

Last Vegas: At Last

The Movie Slut almost skipped this flick.
"Another tired old Old Folks movie," she thought. "Been there. Seen that."
Still, she hustled on over to the multiplex with the best popcorn and comfiest seats and sat back, adopting the Missouri motto. 
"So show me."
And they did. Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert de Niro and Kevin Klein are the best ensemble cast she can remember. The script is smart. The jokes are genuinely funny. And, what's most important, the emotional truth shines brighter than the neon Las Vegas cityscape.
Don't miss this gem.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

12 Years A Slave: Don't Miss This Flick

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Soloman Northup
Finally, a year after Quentin Tarantino's despicable "Django," a movie has come to the multiplex that takes on our nation's most sinful era with appropriate anger, intelligence and despair.

Soloman Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was a free man living in the north before the Civil War. In this based-on-a-true story, he is kidnapped and enslaved for more than a decade. Not every plantation owner in this painful-to-watch film is a brutal tyrant, but the tragic reality is that the system does not allow for treating slaves as humans.

Northup's war is an interior one. He must fight for his life and his dignity and live on an ever fading  dream of being reunited with his wife and children.

The movie is full of excellent performances by Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt, and others. But this movie belongs to Ejiofor, who was the amazing drag queen, Lola, in the movie "Kinky Boots," a fact that testifies to the tremendous range of this brilliant British actor.

That buzz you hear as you file silently out of the theater is all about Oscar.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Counselor: Court Closed.

As you know, the Movie Slut has a myriad of reasons for going to the multiplex. (Popcorn notwithstanding.)

For her, even the worst movies have something worth seeing. And so it is with this ridiculous disaster of a film.

See it for the mystery, she says. No it's not not a whodunit flick. The mystery is how a movie with such a sterling cast —Michael Fassbinder, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt — such an accomplished screenwriter — Cormac McCarthy — and such a successful director — Ridley Scott — could be so hideously horrendous.

The Counselor tells a flimsy story about a lawyer who succumbs to greed and loses his way. But that's just an excuse to string together scenes designed to shock, scare, disgust or just plain gross you out. It's a cynical approach to movie making, which seems to be failing. Don't worry about finding a seat for this dud.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wadjda: Grrrrrl Power

This moving film set in a conservative suburb of Saudi Arabia is generally known and the movie about a girl who longs for a bike. That's true, but hardly tells the whole story.

Those with even a drop of feminist sensibilities will find much of this film difficult to watch. It goes miles beyond the bike and deeply into what it's like to be a girl or a woman in this restrictive culture.

Radjda and her mother lead lives strictly deliniated by the rules and regulations that determine what women can and cannot wear, what they can and cannot do, when they can and cannot be seen and when they can and cannot be heard.

It's not as if we haven't heard about the status of women in this culture, but to see it in action is a far different story.

But stick with this flick. The Movie Slut can't recall a movie with a more moving ending. Those who try to crush the human spirit fail in the end. Think about the real life story of Malala..

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Fifth Estate: WikiWonderful

You may have read some disparaging reviews about this engaging movie. They were probably written by members of the Fourth Estate.

The Fifth Estate can be considered journalism's newest incarnation. Hence, some negative reviews from the previous regime.

This is the story of WikiLeaks and the website's founder Julian Assange. He's either a hero or a vilian depending on your feelings about the public's right to access secret government documents.

Assange is a strange dude, with his white hair and zealous manner. But it's best to separate his personality from his actions and assess what he's done. And while you're at it, think a bit about what's happened to the Fourth Estate.

Would Woodward and Bernstein be able to write the Watergate story today? Is the new media too dependent on ratings and advertisers? Where was the Fourth Estate in the build up to the War in Iraq?
Do we need a Fifth Estate, not only to watch over the government, but also to serve as watchdogs for the Fourth Estate?

Benedict Cumberbatch, who the Movie Slut first saw on the sensational PBS series "Sherlock," is Julian Assange. At times you won't believe he's not the real guy.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Runner Runner: Half Baked

Runner Runner reminds the Movie Slut of her sixth grade home economics class.

All the ingredients were ready as were the proper cooking equipment and yet the chocolate pudding never congealed. It was a mystery —somewhat.

The failure of this promising movie is mysterious, too. It brought together a great cast: Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake. A decent plot: Princeton whiz kid confronts online gambling kingpin when he's cheated.

Yet something went awry on the way to the multiplex.

The MS guesses the director was MIA. How else to explain the actors standing around looking dazed as if they were waiting for direction.

As for the drippy chocolate pudding. There's an explanation for that.

It seems some pranksters, including the MS, dumped in twice as much sugar as the recipe called for in hopes that the batch would be sent to the teachers' room for consumption. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Captain Phillips: Waterlogged

There's a scene early in this based-on-a-true-story thriller when Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks), binoculars in place, focuses on a pirate skiff rapidly approaching his cargo ship off the coast of Somalia. He sees the pirate captain staring back at him through his binoculars.

This is not a good-guys-bad-guys movie. It's a battle between worthy opponents.

Captain Phillips is doing what he must do and so is Captain Muse.

For all its high-seas adventure, however, this flick did not blow the Movie Slut out of the water.

Yes, there were some brilliant scenes and some fine acting, but a few problems kept her from full enjoyment. The most important: Why was a cargo ship coasting through known pirate-infested waters without any security? Not even a handgun. (Doesn't every American have one of these?)

But seriously, this plot point was difficult to swallow. And it turns out, it should be. Although the movie doesn't delve into this, according to some sources and a lawsuit, the real Captain Phillips disobeyed orders and, to save time and money, took his ship too close to the Somali coastline.

So do movies have to cleave to the truth? Absolutely not. But when they fabricate and force the viewer to cleave to disbelief, that is a problem. 

Hopefully, you'll be able to suspend with disbelieve though the MS could not. And while she's at it, why was the most despised company in the US — Haliburton — mentioned in a positive light more than once in this movie?

There's nothing MS hates more than being manipulated. Instead of making Dick Cheney's company appear more warm and fuzzy, these plugs pulled her out of the movie, leaving her thinking it was a pretty fishy tale.

Salinger: The Man, The Book, The Movie

He was the first counter-culture vulture.
He taught us not to trust anyone over 30.
He exposed the phonies.
He warned about selling out.
And then he disappeared.

If Holden Caulfield was ever your hero, the guy you lauded for telling truth to power, the kid who spoke to you about the dangers of growing up, then you have to see this movie about his creator and alter-ego, J.D. Salinger.

Salinger wrote the Catcher in the Rye in 1951. Soon after the book was declared the voice of a generation, he dropped off the radar to lead a reclusive life in Vermont. He might have been out of sight, but he wasn't out of our collective consciousness, and most importantly, Salinger, who died in 2010, never stopped writing.

This two-hour documentary is not for everyone. But those who read the book and took it to heart, like the Movie Slut, will adore every minute of it. Finally, you'll learn who this guy Salinger was and see him for all the warts and wonder.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gravity: Lost In Space

At times during this cinematic odyssey, you might think you've awakened in adult space camp.
You're up there— or is it out there?— untethered, floating about in zero gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

But is that really what this interesting, if not always enjoyable, film is about?

The Movie Slut thinks not. Though she won't give away her interpretation. Suffice it to say, that it's not until the end of this flick that the message is revealed. And she thinks it's worth waiting for.

Don Jon: Sex And The Single Guy

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a triple threat.  He's the writer, director and star of this modern-day variation on the Don Juan story.

Jon is a Lothario. He never goes home alone. But as sexy as his gal-pals are, in his mind they never match the ones he ogles on his computer screen.

Enter, Scarlett Johansson, a real life babe. Will she cure our porn-addicted protagonist?

The Movie Slut will not answer that question. But she will say that for all its preoccupation with sex, this flick is about relationships.

It's a dynamo of a movie. Watching it is like sipping a Jolt cocktail. But it's not the first time a spectacular flick has taken off on Don Juan's story.

Enough Said: But here's the MS's 2 cents

Enough has been said about this flick being a grown-up romantic comedy.

Plenty has also been said about the fine acting. Yes, James Gandolfini, who died too soon last spring, could play a role diametrically opposed to his famous character: Tony Soprano. As for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, she's a bit like Elaine in Seinfeld. But that's OK.

The movie attempts to show the hurtles of finding love the second (or third or fourth) time around. It breaks the mold in that it's not predictable at every turn.

But is is realistic?

Take your pick. This flick seems to have two endings. One for hopeful romantics. The other for hopeless realists.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rush: Fast, But Not So Furious

Ron Howard's movie about worthy opponents takes us into the reckless (but not wreckless) world of Formula One racing in the mid-1970s.

In this flick based on real events, we meet James Hunt, a fast-driving, fast-living English playboy, and Niki Lauda, a fast-driving, methodical, calculating Austrian.

The competition between the two drives them to take the kind of risks that rev up speed.

You don't have to be a race car fan to enjoy this movie, but it would help. Otherwise Rush makes an enjoyable visit to the multiplex, but not quite the rush you're looking for.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Prisoners: Will Capture You

"Oh My Gosh," a woman pants as she leaves the movie theater. (Yes, she did say "gosh.")
"I've got such a headache," another woman moans.

They've just seen Prisoners and don't be surprised if this flick has the same effect on you.

It's edgy in every way. The actions on the screen is out there. And you'll be sitting at the edge of your seat for most of the 2-hour-and-26-minute movie. You won't be bored for even a split second.

Hugh Jackman, as a father whose young daughter goes missing, and Jake Gyllenhaal as the detective on the case, are riveting. But it's the story and psychology of the characters that will catch you up, take hold of you and not let go for at least 30 minutes after the closing credits.

The movie makes you question how you'd react in a similar circumstance. How far would you go to get your child back? Dead or alive.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Instructions Not Included: But Sorely Needed

 What were they thinking?
To be more specific, why did this movie arrive at the local multiplex?
Not that it was bad. Well, not that bad.

 It did have a lively, colorful palette and a fairytale plot, though more like the old Grimm stories than the sanitized ones we read to kids nowadays. The trouble is that the grim turn of events comes out of nowhere at the end of what seemed like a comedy, making this PG 13 movie pretty inappropriate for children. And the theater was filled with children when the Movie Slut viewed it.

Make that Latino children. Another problem is that this Mexican flick is in Spanish and though English subtitles flash across the screen, it would take a pretty brainy child to read them. So, that means American families won't be flocking to see this flick.

The Movie Slut won't instruct you to skip this one about a Dad, who finds himself the sole parent of a baby when mom drops her off and disappears. But consider yourself forewarned.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Family: Wiseguys Meet All in the Family

The trouble with this "family flick" is that at nearly two hours, it's a good hour too short.
Like when have you heard the Movie Slut say that before? Like never.

It's not a comedy that will have you doubled over with hilarity, but one that maintains a gleefully zany plot and superb comedic action from start to too-soon finish.

Our witness-protected family, masquerading as the all-American Blakes, have arrived in France, sparking more Franco-American strife than we've experienced since the freedom fries brouhaha. But these jokes, tickling as they are, are secondary to the sociopathic antics of these goodfellas and gals.

Robert de Niro, as the head of the psycho family, nailed it. And Michelle Pfeiffer, who's already been Married to the Mob, more than reprises her role.

Give thanks each day that they're not the folks next door. But do meet them at the multiplex.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Riddick: Just Plain Ick

"There are bad days. And there are legendary bad days," says Riddick (Vin Diesel) at the beginning of this sci fi alleged thriller, right after he battles a gaggle of giant slimy alien predators.

Should you venture to see this movie, you'll understand the true meaning of "legendary bad days."

Yeah, the Movie Slut shudda known better, but she listened to a critic who found the movie about an alien mercenary turned-anti-hero  — who first appeared in Pitch Black and then in the Chronicles of Riddick in 2004) — entertaining, even funny. Is that funny as in your house was sucked away by a tsunami? Ha. Ha.

Riddick, the alien superhero, who can survive a direct hit from a refrigerator dropped from a plane, is hiding out on a hellishly dystopian planet. Not only does he have to battle the previously mentioned predators, but bounty hunters have arrived to take him — dead or alive. (Think sequel and you'll guess what transpires.)

If movies can be psychoanalyzed, this one has a virulent case of Passive Aggressive Syndrome. It pretends that the over-the-top violence and misogyny are just for winks and chuckles. Even though there's nothing funny about them.

As one character says near the end of the movie, "This is one fucking demented fairytale."

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Closed Circuit: Now They See You

Substitute Mid-Eastern terrorists for Communists, and you have a pretty good idea how this British thriller goes. It's an old-fashioned suspense flick and the Movie Slut says that as a compliment.

The violence isn't over the top. The bad guys aren't particularly sadistic. You won't have to watch a 20-minute car chase. And there are no aliens. (Not that there's anything wrong with them.)

You will scoot to the edge of your seat. You will care about the characters, at least some of them. And while some action is predictable, at other times you'll be taken by surprise. (She loves when that happens.)

You may not talk about CC at the water cooler, but that doesn't mean you didn't enjoy it.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

World's End: WTF?

World's End begins and pops along for about half the film as a typical British comedy. Five eccentric characters are on a lunatic mission to complete the pub crawl they'd abandoned 20 years ago.

Five guys. Twelve pubs. Countless pints with some shots tossed in for added intoxication.

But something insanely unexpected happens on the way  to the World's End, the last pub on their boozy odyssey.

No, the Movie Slut, unlike some other spoilsport reviewers, will not give this plot point away. She will just say that while many fans of British comedy may find this less than entertaining, she relished the digression.

WE has a message. It's about the dangers of growing old and stuffy. In the end, these characters were willing to risk their lives to avoid this fate.

 She'll drink to that.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Jobs: The Man, The Machine, The Movie

With all due respect for the Supreme Court, corporations are NOT people. But if they were, Apple is a company that seems to have a pulse and heartbeat and the ability, if not to love, then to be loved.

You'll have to excuse the Movie Slut for such hyperbole. But she's been an Apple believer and lover since she took her first bite. She's never owned another computer. She knew it was a superior product even when it was looking down, if not out. Then, of course, there was the comeback.

Jobs, the movie, was not embraced by many critics. But maybe the problem is the title. What if the movie were called Apple? It is, after all, the story of the company as much as the man.

It opens in 2001 with Steve Jobs introducing the revolutionary iPod. Then we go back to the mid-'70s to meet the visionary who believed that what we wanted now was not a chicken in every pot, but a personal computer on ever desk.

The MS remembers those early days when home computing was in its infancy. The movie captures the exhilaration of the time when this new, seemingly miraculous, machine was being introduced. She read everything she could about it. She took courses to learn to operate it. It was the future.

The movie captures all of this, as well as the ups and downs of the company and the man.

Some critics complained that Aston Kutcher was out of his depth in the role. Not so, the MS says. He carries the movie and does a superlative job of reminding us that you don't always have to be one of the pack, that you can risk failure, that it's OK to follow your dream when others are telling you it's a nightmare.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blue Jasmine: Art Immitating Life?

In this years installment of the world according to Woody Allen, our beloved director goes bi-coastal.

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), a spoiled Park Avenue socialite, is the East Coast sister.  Ginger (Sally Hawkins) lives decidedly downscale and happier in San Francisco.

Sadly, Jasmine has had a reversal of fortune that necessitates moving in with Ginger.

It's not pretty. And not funny either. Woody has gone dark in this one, though some amusing characters, played by a sterling cast, will put some smiles on faces.

"What do you think he was saying?" the Movie Slut asked her companion as they left the multiplex.

It wasn't until hours later that she figured out Woody's message. At least what she thinks it is.
Of course, she won't give it away. But here's one clue. If she's right, this entertaining film is also quite self-serving.

See what you think. And feel free to leave your interpretation in the comment box.  

Lee Daniels' The Butler: Will Serve You well

Loosely based on the story of Eugene Allen, an African American who served eight presidents, this movie serves as an American history lesson and an insightful look at what it's been like to be Black in America.

In the movie, Eugene becomes Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) son of a sharecropper, who joins the White House staff during the Truman administration and remained there through the Regan years. The audience is treated to inside glimpses of each president and his family, as well as the personal life of the man who learned to adopt two faces: one he presented to the White world, the other for those of his race.

The Butler is a riveting movie of a man working at the heart of social change forced to carry on as if all remained the same. At the end of the film, when this sharecropper's son returns to the White House after Obama's victory, there didn't seem to be a dry eye in the theater.

The Spectacular Now: See It Now

When boy, (Miles Teller, as Sutter) meets girl (Shailene Woodley, as Aimee) in this delightfully fresh love story, it's as if two distinct species have come together for the first time.

He's the popular player in high school. She's the studious, shy girl, who's never had a boyfriend. She's on her way to college the next year. He's going nowhere.

Their meeting is under rather unusual circumstances. And were off from there.

Sure you've seen far too many teenage love stories already. They're usually predictable fantasies about stock characters in a fictitious school that bears little resemblance to reality. That's where this sensitive movie is different.

In A World: Look Who's Talking

Lake Bell may not be a be a household name yet. But just wait.

In this debut film, which she wrote, directs and stars in, she'll make you want to see more of her. Which is not to say that World is a winner. But it's good enough.

In this flick, Bell (who you might know as Alec Baldwin's wife in It's Complicated) is a voice-over artist trying to break into the big time where the plum job is saying those three little words, never before uttered by a woman in a movie trailer.

The plot is delightfully original, as are parts of the film, but too often it devolves into the kind of rom-com tripe we've seen hundreds of times too many.

Still, the Movie Slut recommends this flick. In a world filled with violence and phony sex, this movie is a breath of fresh jokes.

We're The Millers: Or Not

There's Something About Mary
At it's core, We're The Millers is a story about family. No matter that these four are related neither by blood, by church or by state. They've joined forces for a purpose —which involves a road trip— and, well, something develops along the way.

If that sounds shmaltzy it really isn't because the flick tries hard to be a politically incorrect, gross-out film on the order of the There's Something About Mary

Alas, try as it does, it never reaches the hysterical highs of that 1998 film.

Mildly amusing is the best the Movie Slut can say about this forgettable flick. But maybe you'll like it more. Lots of chucking could be heard in the theater.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Despicable Me 2: Despicaliscious

Despicable Me 2 was a very good movie. My favorite characters are the Minions and the girls. My favorite part is when the Minions turned into monsters. I recommend it to kids like 4 through seven.
Annie, almost 8.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Elysium: Go Matt Go

In this dystopian sci fi thriller the chasm between haves and have nots has reached gigantic proportions. The masses remain on the overpopulated, depleted, rubble-strewn Earth, while the one percent luxuriate at a five-star space station.

"No fair," you say. And you haven't heard the worst of it.

On Earth, medical facilities can't handle all the ill and injured, but on Elysium, the tony habitat of the wealthy, there's way more than Obamacare. They've got machines that snuff out all disease.

When our hero (Matt Damon) is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation and has five days to live, guess where he needs to go. Alas, Elysium is off limits to the likes of him.

The rest of this action-packed flick, follows his attempts to save his life. And since he is our hero, his odyssey is not purely selfish.

Elysium was directed by Neill Blomkamp, the South African who bought us the wonderfully imaginative District 9, which focused on the evils of bigotry. No extraterrestrial's grace this screen, but as far as summer blockbusters go, this one's a gem.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chennai Express: It's No Monsoon Wedding

What does a Bollywood misstep look like? For the answer to this question shimmy on over to the multiplex and buy a ticket for this disappointment.

Sure, it has all the bell and whistles: A gorgeous leading lady, splashy colors, energetic song and dance numbers and a twisty rom-com plot. In fact it could have been a winner if forty minutes had been left on the cutting room floor.

CH clocks in at 2 hours and 21 minutes and contains many repetitive scenes. If you decide to go, you'll want to sit in an aisle seat. A lengthy trip to the concession stand mid movie might do the trick. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

2 Guns: Double The Disappointment

Imagine how excited the Movie Slut was when she heard that two of her faves were starring in a new buddy flick. Denzel! and Mark! What could go wrong?


Okay, so there were some fun moments in this crime caper but they were as rare as a Denzel Washington flop.

Instead of relying on star power to keep the flick shining, the movie piled on one absurdity after another. They lost the Movie Slut long before the marauding bull scene. It was about the time the man sitting in front of her got up and never returned.

Talk about squandered opportunities.

The Wolverine: Les Miz II

Last time we saw Hugh Jackman he was the miserablest character in the movie Les Miserable. Poor Jean Valjean couldn't cut a break. Oh, how he suffered— this man of honesty and principle— in this story about the French Revolution. But the audiences who watched the flick were ecstatic.

Now the tables have turned.

 It's the audience that's in misery.

This adaptation of the Marvel comic book character with sword like spikes jutting from his hands,  doesn't cut it at all. The Movie Slut read that it was tailored for the Asian market, but that shouldn't preclude enjoyment on this continent.

Sadly, the movie isn't so bad that it's good. It's just—to use a scientific term— feh.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The To Do List: 1. See it 2. Enjoy it

In this post-post-post feminist comedy, the girls approach sex as aggressively as boys.
Imagine the travesty when Brainy Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) is graduating high school and still a virgin!

Shocking! Right?

And so she approaches this next hurtle in the organized, efficient manner that made her the class valedictorian.  Hence the infamous To Do List.

To Do is less a chick flick and more a gal-pal movie and strangely refreshing in its honesty.

Come to think about it, maybe post-post-post feminist isn't the correct label. Back when the Movie Slut was a freshman in college, she had a friend who approached discarding her virginity in a similar way.

Maybe this movie is just telling it like it really is.

Girl Most Likely: Half a Laugh

Imogene was a promising young playwright living in Manhattan with her boyfriend, but something happened on the way to success and happiness. The next thing you know, she's back home in tacky Ocean City, N.J., living with her flacky mother (Annette Bening) and Mom's younger, nuttier boyfriend (Matt Dillon.)

It's a bigtime comedown for Imogene, and, if you agree with many critics, for the actress who plays her, Kristen Wiig.

While Bening and Dillon add much to this comedy lite with sentimental undertones, Wiig holds her own. And if you're looking for a sweet flick with sporadic laughs, do go see this one.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

R.I.P.D.: D.O.A.

It's not that R.I.P.D. is actually Dead On Arrival, although Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds are, in fact, dead. It's just that this movie should have been so much better.

Remember Ghosbusters?
How great was that? The Movie Slut keeps wondering what could have elevated this flick to that level of high camp. An unforgettable theme song would have helped. But there's more.

It's not the monsters. They're as gross and deliciously ridiculous as they can be. And the plot isn't bad either. Two deceased lawmen must now protect the living from the dead.

Alas, it seems as if R.I.P.D. had a bit of an identity crisis. Is it a comedy? A sci-fi thriller? A police drama?

MS has this advice. Since you can't please all moviegoers all the time, choose your audience.
Having said all that, did MS enjoy R.I.P.D.?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Way, Way Back: Way Way Good

Fourteen-year-old Duncan is growing up surrounded by a gaggle of adults who've never managed to complete this feat. It's the summer. At the beach. And his mother's new boyfriend threatens to set the teenager back for life.

WWB's cast reads like a Comedy Central Hall of Fame. Steve Carell (40-year-old Virgin) is boyfriend Trent. Rob Corddry ("The Daily Show") is Trent's best friend. Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) is the neighborhood theme park manager.

 Still, this movie is no comedy.

Sometimes it feels like the actors are trying too hard to be funny. But that's a minor quibble with a flick that will resonate with anyone who's been a misunderstood teenager. It might even sweep you back to those days of awkwardness and agony.

Having said this, the movie is no downer. Why? You know the Movie Slut won't spill those beans. She'll just say you won't want to miss this sensitive, empathetic flick. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pacific Rim: They Came From Under Space

You have your zombies & aliens; your cowboys & aliens; your monsters & robots; your werewolves & vampires.

So why not sea monsters & cyborgs?

Ready, or not, here they are in Guillermo del Toro's wonderfully hocky sci fi, horror flick. And if monster movies are your thing, and the Movie Slut certainly hopes they are, you'll enjoy this insane, inane summer thriller.

Beware! You might experience the sensation of dropping into a gigantic video game. But a few compelling characters elevate the movie into something more. The most interesting and endearing of these is Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), the Janpanese actor who stole Babel right out of Brad Pitt's flailing hands.

The MS would have preferred shorter battles and more wacko pseudoscience, but, hey, those monsters are pretty awesome.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Attack: The Political is Personal

Amin is a Palestinian surgeon living and practicing in Tel Aviv. Shortly after we meet him, he wins a prestigious award. Not only is it a high honor, but he's the first Arab physician to receive this award.

Amin is a healer. We see him caring for the victims of a suicide bombing, many of whom are children. This kind of violence is incomprehensible to him. How is it possible for someone to commit such a brutal and self-destructive act? That's what he sets out to discover.

The question is not merely academic for Amin. It couldn't be more personal.

The less you know about this unforgettable thriller before seeing it, the more of an impact it will have. If you haven't already read other reviews, don't.

The Attack is directed by Ziad Doueiri, a Lebanese filmmaker, with an Israeli cast. It's been billed as an even-handed rendering of the Palestinian-Israeli quagmire, but that's for you to decide.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Before Midnight: Think Before You Go

If you've seen Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), you'll probably want to see the third flick in Richard Linklater's trilogy.

Maybe you should stop and think about it.

In the first movie, we meet Celene (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke). They're college students  on a train and decide to spend the night together. When they part, they arrange to meet again. In the second installment, we learn these plans fell through. It is now, nine years later, Jesse is a published author, whose at a Paris book signing and Celene seeks him out.

In this new movie, they've been together, committed, but unmarried, for nine years with twin daughters and on vacation in Greece.

Celene and Jesse always had a way with words and long conversations defined their relationship along with hot sex. Unfortunately, in this movie you'll find it hard to keep yourself from shouting, "Shut up, already."

Not only do they blah, blah, blah, but so do all their friends. As the movie progresses, and the unhappy couple spend time alone, their barbs and complaints escalate. Alas, they're not always as entertaining as when Jesse calls Celene "the mayor of Crazy Town."

At the movie's end, so much vitriol has been tossed around that it's difficult to think they remain together. Then again, there's always Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe.

 If you've ever spent an evening with a bickering twosome, you might prefer staying home and renting the first two flicks.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

20 Feet From Stardom: Da Doo Sing, Sing

Chances are you've never heard of them. But you have heard them.
They're the Rayettes, the Harlettes, the Supremes. The backup singers that "Oooo" and "Mmm," and "Da Doo Ron, Ron."

Now they have a documentary of their own.

The music, and there's plenty of it, is the best part of this film. But it's also an interesting subject. Who are these people and why are they always, well, twenty steps from top billing?

It turns out some of them are just fine with their position on stage. And others are still hoping for star billing.

This is a must-see-and-hear doc for anyone who loves popular music from the 1950s to today.