Sunday, August 31, 2014

When the Game Stands Tall: Winning isn't Everything

True story. And that's the problem.

This flick about a high school football team on a winning streak should have scored a  touch down. Alas, it's barely a first down.

It stars Jim Caviezel as legendary couch Bob Ladouceur of the Northern California Spartans and judging from Caviezel's performance, Ladouceur must have been a pretty dour character. Still, his values are laudable. He's more concerned with molding future citizens than creating current heroes. The movie suffers from another problem, too. Sometimes reality needs a bunch of tweaking to create the dramatic ark needed for a winning film.

But the message for young people is a fine one. Let's hope they can sit through the dull parts. 

The Trip To Italy: Steve and Rob's Tiepido Adventure

The degree to which you enjoy this lackluster buddy flick depends on how big a fan you are of comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. As a followup to their 2010 flick, The Trip, in which they travel the English Lake District, the friends now tool around the Italian coast, eating, joking and doing impressions of other actors, including Michael Caine, Al Pacino and Marlon Brandow.

For those who find the two eminently yawnable, there is beautiful cinematography, awe inspiring Verdi music and the occasional quote from Keats and Shelly.

The Movie Slut felt like she was on date with the boring guy who orders a zillion courses forcing her to sit and smile unenthusiastically. Yeah. This is a buddy flick about two guys who think they're so much more interesting than they are.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The November Man: He's no 007.

Pierce Brosnan is the November man.

Take James Bond. Now, hold the martinis, tuxedos and nifty gizmos. What do you get?

The November Man, so named because after he moves through, nothing is left alive.

That could also be said about the brain cells of movie-goers. Unless, you lean back, chomp on popcorn and don't try to actually understand what's happening onscreen.

Imagine that you're suffering from a wicked case of  jet lag.

The opening of this high-voltage action flick zooms from Montenegro to Switzerland to Russia to Croatia and on and on.

Where's 007 when you need him?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Giver: Get the Message

Brenton Thwaites, as Jonas, the Memory Keeper in training.

You've seen it before. Think Brave New World,  for starters.  A society devoid of bad human characteristics also robs ciizens of the good stuff. Especially memories.

It's a tradeoff the elders are willing to take. As for the young, well, they don't know what they're missing...until.

The Movie Slut almost skipped this one. "Been there, seen that," she mumbled as she forked over her frequent movie-goer's card. She exited the theater singing a different tune.

Excellent performances by Meryl Streep, as the elder-in-charge, and Jeff Bridges, as the sole memory keeper in the community, enrich this flick.

But it's young Jonas's awakening to the horrors and beauty of genuine human existence that makes this movie worth seeing.

If only, as a society, we could react to the senseless murders committed daily the way Jonas experiences them in the movie. Then, maybe we'd see change.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The One Hundred Foot Journey: A Trip Worth Taking

Manish Dayal and Helen Mirren stir up some treats and trouble.

Predictability was never as picturesque.

In this feel-good movie of the summer, which takes place in a vintage French village in the south of France, Helen Mirren is the snooty proprietress of a renown restaurant famous for classical cuisine.

Imagine her consternation when an Indian patriarch purchases the property across the street and opens a restaurant where spice trumps subtlety.

The clash of cultures takes on a romantic note when Papa's son, a brilliantly talented chef, falls for a fetching young sous chef working in Madame Mallory's kitchen.

The One Hundred Foot Journey is like a perfect souffle. It's light and frothy, with just the right amount of spice. And it never falls flat.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Boyhood: To Manhood

Ellar Coltrane: 6-18 years old
No need for special effects makeup to age the characters in Richard Linklater's ambitious new movie. The characters aged naturally over the 12 years he filmed the flick.

It begins when Masson Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) is in first grade and wraps up when he's off to college. Ethan Hawke, as Masson Sr., Patricia Arquette, as mom, and Lorelei Linklater, as the sister (the filmmaker's daughter), are also on board for the dozen-year ride.

Critics adored the movie. But the Movie Slut was skeptical. So many films that breeze through time devolve into hackneyed historical stereotypes. She's happy to report that her doubts were unfounded.

It helps that mom and dad, divorced parents, are both interesting and messy, and able to bestow their children with unconditional love. And despite the absence of vehicular chases and gun violence, all 2 hours and forty minutes of this movie will have you glued to the screen.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hercules: Chariots For Hire

What's a nice gal like the Movie Slut doing at a flick like this?

You could chalk it up to indiscriminate taste in movies. But you'd only be half right.

Turns out, MS is a fan of Greek mythology. Alas, in this version Herc's paternity is up for grabs. His father might be the god Zeus. But probably not. Say what?#&#!

Other aspects of the mighty warrior's myth are also tampered with in this based-on-a-graphic-novel film, but a sense of humor has been added for chuckles. (But no laughs out loud. )

As expected, lots of battles ensue and Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) is believable as the debunked demigod and strongest mortal dimwit headed for a sequel.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lucy: She's the First

It's a sci-fy flick that wonders what would happen if humans used 100% of their brain capacity.
It's a revenge thriller that would make the Count of Monte Cristo proud.
It's a post-post feminist screed that Helen Reddy could sing about.

Lucy is all that and more. It's also Scarlett Johansson showing us, once again, that she's a riveting actress who can carry a film almost on her own. Remember Under The Skin.

There's plenty of pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo on the screen and lots of mind-blowing special effects. Which is as it should be in a movie that takes us way beyond the possible to the totally improbable. Add exceptional music, flashbacks to the first Lucy, and a spectacular Little Black Dress and what you get is a movie that can be seen again and again. The Movie Slut will.

Wish I Was Here: Oh, No You Don't

Wish I Was Here would be a terrific title for a film about someone with a rabid texting habit.

Alas, none of the characters is this dispiriting com-dram about a contemporary family living above their means in L.A. has such an affliction.

Dad's a struggling (failed?) actor. Mom pays the bills working for the water company. (Suspend with disbelief, here.) Grandpa, who pays tuition at the Orthodox Jewish school, is taken ill.Lots of jokes about rabbis. (So been there seen that.)

"Heartfelt" is a word several critics have used to describe this movie. But somehow Zach Braff, who's the director, co-writer and star, didn't transfer that warm and fuzzy feelings to the Movie Slut. However Gena, her pal and fellow movie junkie, thought the movie was "sweet."

The MS, who must get the last word, after all this is her blog, says,  yeah, sweet like candy corn dunked in molasses and coated with milk chocolate.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Magic in the Moonlight: Do you believe in magic?

Woody Allen's delightful, charming, frothy contribution this summer's movies asks us to believe. And chances are you're going to walk out of the theater obliging him.

He's not talking about religion, though if you choose to believe in a creator, go right ahead. But, whatever side of that issue you're on, you have to admit there is no proof one way or another.

However, if you just take the time to look around, experience the world, really open your eyes, you'll see what he wants you be believe in. Magic is everywhere.

The Movie Slut never gives away a plot. But she will say that this flick takes place in 1928. Oh the clothes! Oh the settings! Colin Firth is a misanthropic, skeptical magician, who believes in nothing. Until he meets Emma Stone, a young woman working as a psychic. He sets out to expose her. But  you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Get On Up: You'll Feel Good

Question 1: How much do you like James Brown's music?
Question 2: Enough to watch a 2-hour and 18-minute bio-pic about the Godfather of soul?

The Movie Slut does and did and,  yeah, she feels real good.

That's not to say this is an upbeat flick. The "hardest working man in show business" had a dismal childhood and because of his lifespan (1933-2006), moviegoers go through some horrible times in U.S. history.

But the music! That hard-driving, frenetic, hectic, heart-thrashing sound!!!

There are those who fault this flick for being a white-guy's project. So, MS will end with one of JB's greatest hits.