Saturday, April 27, 2013

Oblivion: Last Man Standing

Oblivion will take you back. You're 12 again. At RKO or Loews. It's a rainy summer afternoon.

The movie on the screen doesn't make much sense. But you don't care. There's nowhere else you'd rather be. Maybe if you were a grown-up you'd understand it.

Maybe not.

On the screen this spring, it's 2077. Earth is over. Destroyed by aliens, who lost the war but made the planet uninhabitable. Radiation zones are everywhere. Most Earthlings have emigrated to one of Saturn's moons. Not Jack (Tom Cruise).  He's a drone repairman and drones are essential.

Why? Who cares.

Oblivion isn't a flick that asks you to suspend with disbelief. It demands that you abandon  questioning and forget all that rigamarole about Scientology and the Oprah-couch-jumping shebang. It just wants you to sit back and enjoy the mindless fun.

And it is great fun. With a little bit of everything thrown in— romance, violence, space travel, aliens and even Morgan Freeman. Just bring your earplugs and go with the twisty, topsy turvy senseless entertainment your inner kid remembers.   

Monday, April 22, 2013

Disconnect: Thrill Times Three

Paula Patton stars in Disconnect with Jason Bateman and Hope Davis.

Think before you click is the message of this lightening-paced thriller that weaves together three cautionary tales about the dangers lurking in cyberspace.

Each story could have been a movie in itself, but spliced together seamlessly, they make for an unforgettable trip to the multiplex.

Fathers are also a concern in this movie. How they act, react and can't find their way to being the parents they aspire to be.

The film also focuses on the contrast between the coldness of technology and the heat of  human passions, carving out an interesting dichotomy on screen.

Ultimately, the risky cyber forays bring out the humanity in each character, making this an interesting as well as edgy flick that suggests we stop texting, tweeting and Googling long enough to reach out and touch each other. In real time. In a real place.

There, the Movie Slut said a lot without giving away one plot point.
You're welcome.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Trance: Stay Home & Soak Your Head in Molasses

All may be fair in love and war. But not at the movies.

There's such a thing as play fair. Which means that the viewer, even if she doesn't figure out what's going on, should know at the end that she could have assembled this puzzle.

Well, the Movie Slut doesn't think that's possible with Trance.

Maybe others are quicker, smarter, more observant, or have read reviews that spill and spin the story as press material reported it. To them, she says lots of luck.

Trance plays out like one of those 1950s films about hypnotism, crossed with a 1970s art heist flick and sprinkled with a heavy dose of David Mamet-style violence and sadism.

James McAvoy is superb as the guy who may or may not be suffering from amnesia and seeks the help of a gorgeous hypnotist, played by Rosario Dawson, who he may or may not have known when he still had memories, which he may or may not have lost.

The Movie Slut wonders if the flick might make sense if she saw it again. But does she really want to invest another 10 bucks and 100 minutes?

Check this out from Lawrence Toppman at the Charlotte Observer:
"Trance stumbles around like a blind rat in a maze with no cheese at any exit: Whatever conclusion it reaches will leave us dissatisfied." 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Place Beyond The Pines: Beyond Belief?

Luke is the flame that draws and destroys the moth. Played by a bleached blond Ryan Gosling, he's an irresistable character who bring grief to everyone he touches.

He's a carni motorcycle stuntman and dresses the part with strategically torn and tattered clothes and a body covered with frightening tattoos. His placid, exquisite face masks his inner turmoil.

It's difficult to watch him make mistakes. Still, he's completely believable.

Avery (Bradley Cooper), well, not so much. A lawyer, who chooses to be a policeman, we meet him  as an intelligent, loving husband and father and an honorable cop. When he makes his walloping mistakes, we don't quite understand why.

Pines is a three-part film that may torture you with worry over its characters, and smother you with claustrophobic fatalism, but it never allows for a complete suspension of disbelief. And at two hours and twenty minutes, it should have closed some yawning gaps.

Having said that, The Movie Slut is delighted that she saw this flick and stayed to the end when she was rewarded with a beautiful, believable final scene.

Friday, April 12, 2013

42: A Home Run

It was 1947 and something rotten was at the core of our beloved national sport. Although African American soldiers risked and lost their lives in World War II, major league baseball would not allow them to compete with white players on the ball fields of the country they defended.

Until, that is, Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (a superb Harrison Ford) had the guts to right this wrong. He brought in the man who'd make baseball history, number 42, Jackie Robinson.

Dumped into an ugly cauldron of bigotry, stupidity, fear and hatred — all well shown in this captivating and moving film — Robinson broke the Major League Baseball color barrier and changed more than a sport. In fact, some call this the beginning of the modern civil rights movement.

This is not the first time his courageous story has been told. But it is well done in this movie staring Chadwick Boseman — the new Denzyl Washington? — as the man who wore and retired the number 42.

It's a story of inspiration that moves us to think that change, however arduous, is possible and about the changes our country must now accomplish if we are to become a more civilized nation.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Sapphires: A Real Gem

Nineteen sixty-eight was not a very good year. Unless you're talking music.

This is a movie, inspired by a true story, about an Aboriginal girl group that learns to sing American soul and takes their act to Vietnam.

Yeah. You read that right.

The movie begins on a gee whiz, let's-put-on-a-show, Andy Hardy note. But it soon deepens as the facts about Australia's treatment of Aboriginals enter the plot on one continent and the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King is assassinated on another.

The Movie Slut defies you to remain dry eyed throughout this flick.

And she doubts you'll be able to sit still either.

Nineteen sixty-eight was a very good year for music.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Renoir: Skin Flick

"Flesh! That's all that really matters," Pierre-August Renoir tells us at the beginning and end of this gorgeous biopic about his final years.

And like his French Impressionist paintings that still inspire wonder after 200 years, this film is full of flesh. Sumptuous, sensual, shimmering skin. In fact, the genius of this exquisite movie is that it's like walking into a Renoir canvas. Oh that we really could.

Still, there is a plot. It's 1915 and the famous artist is old, infirm and a widower. He lives in a luxurious farmhouse in Cagnes-sur-Mer on the Cote d'Azur, attended to by a bevy of beauties. Many are former models who've become cooks, housekeepers and nurses.

The status quo is soon upended by a new model who comes to pose. She's a spirited teenager with dreams of becoming an actress. Renoir's son Jean returns from war, injured and confused.

Yes, that Jean Renoir, the cinematographer, who gave us "The Rules of the Game" and "The Human Beast," to name just two.

You can guess who was his first inspiration. Or you can see this movie and marvel.