Friday, May 30, 2014

Words and Pictures: Which Is The Winner?

Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen are believable as high school teachers, who are battling afflictions and each other. She teaches art. He's an English lit teacher. Both think their subject trumps the other.

Interesting, yes?

But strangely, not so much.

The most fascinating aspect of this movie is watching Binoche, who is an artist in real life, (who knew?) create her dazzling paintings. From there it's downhill.

What about music? The Movie Slut wondered throughout this romance, in which the worthy opponents discover that their love for each other reaches beyond words and pictures.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Immigrant: The Perils of Ewa

Marion Cotillard is The Immigrant
It's 1921 and a naive young woman and her sister arrive at Ellis Island from Poland. They were supposed to be met by her aunt and uncle, but that didn't happen and she was on her own. Making matters worse, her sister was diagnosed with "lung disease" and quarantined in an Ellis Island hospital.

Alone and determined to reunite with her sister, Ewa falls into the clutches of a smarmy pimp (Joaquin Phoenix). And it's downhill from there.

The Movie Slut came away thinking that the movie had something to say and every scene and character was manipulated to deliver that message. But what was it?

She had to read a review in a prestigious newspaper to discover what she was supposed to learn from this movie. Something about survival, the price that has to be paid, and the morality of paying the price. Deep. Right? 

MS didn't think this film worked, however, it was a seemingly accurate account of the underbelly of New York City in the 1920s and what could happen to those seeking a new life in the new world.

The sensational sets add substance and reality to a movie that isn't always believable.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Belle: C'est Si Bon

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Belle 
It's a romance. It's a British costume drama. It's a slice of history.
And it's the confluence of these genres that made the Movie Slut's friend Deanne call Belle the "best movie I ever saw."

Like the young woman at the center of the story, Belle is both smart and beautiful.

Belle's father was an officer and a gentlemen in late 18th-century England and her mother, whom he loved but never married, was a woman of color. When she died, he took the child to live with his aristocratic uncle and his family.

 The plot, which is based on a true story,  plays out at a time when societal rules were harsh and rigid. But the question of where Belle fits in is not the only concern in this thoughtful, moving flick. It goes a lot deeper than that.

It nothing else, this film is worth seeing for the sets and costumes. 

Monday, May 19, 2014


Call her crazy, but the Movie Slut thinks Godzilla is a lot like Lennie in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. They're both big, strong and not the brightest. (Unless, in G's case, he's breathing fire.) Neither means to inflict the damage he creates. (Unless, again in G's case, it's against the enemy.)

In this movie, he has two formidable foes: Ginormous insect-like creatures, not unlike tremendous brown praying mantises, on the verge of spawning countless progeny.

Godzilla to the rescue!

The latest G-flick is only for lovers of monster movies. And you can count MS among them. It  delivers all the bells, whistles and roars she was looking for and some human character development as a bonus. So what if the back story was as murky as the depths from which these monsters emerged. Something about the first submarine activating dormant life forms, which feed on radioactivity.

It's not their fault that they see power plants as fast food restaurants.
McNuke anyone?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Million Dollar Arm: It's no Million Dollar Movie

Million Dollar Arm has two things going for it: Jon Hamm, of Mad Men fame, and the national pastime. And that was enough for the Movie Slut.

Still, this Disney family movie, which clocks in at just over two hours, is a little too simplistic for adults and a bit long for kids.

The plot, based on a true story, is about a desperate Los Angeles sports agent who goes to India to recruit the first Indian baseball players. His plan: to turn cricket athletes into pitchers.

So, we, the audience, go to India, which is played for laughs with every stereotype in the books. As is California, for that matter.

Still, we've got Hamm and baseball. No home run here. But you can call it a double.

The German Doctor: Does No Harm

Here we have a perfect example of a movie nearly ruined by tell-all critics. Unfortunately, the Movie Slut read a review prior to seeing the film. And sure enough they gave away the farm. Don't worry, she won't.

The action takes place in Patagonia, in 1960. An Argentinian family befriends a German doctor, who helps them with their health problems. The daughter, who's 12 years old, is tiny for her age, and he says he can help her. The pregnant mother is having twins and he seems to be an expert in multiple births.

He's a mysterious character, but only the husband is suspicious of him. In the end, the moviegoer lucky enough to see this flick without prior knowledge discovers the truth about him and postscripts fill us in on his future. But by this point, MS was equally interested in the family. Although the movie is narrated by the daughter, we don't learn what becomes of her or the twins.

Movie critics can be blamed for telling too much. But it's the script writer's fault for not telling enough.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Locke: Driving Without Miss Daisy

Tom Hardy is Ivan Locke 

In a season of action movies, this inaction flick might be the antidote for fast, loud and special effects overload. Except for a minute or two at the opening and voices on the other end of a cell phone, this one-character drama takes place completely in a car that's not being chased.

It helps that Tom Hardy is the driver.

He's a responsible, honorable family man and alpha employee at a large construction firm, whose one mistake has turned his life into a formidable mess. As he drives to London to deal with his error, the other parts of his life— his job and family— begin spiraling out of control.

About 20 minutes into the film, the Movie Slut wondered if he'd ever get out of that car and if the movie could work if he didn't. The answers are "no" and "yes."

This is a surprisingly fine move that focuses on both human frailty and strength.