Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Equalizer: Can't Wait for the Sequel

They wear capes and masks and Spandex catsuits.
They weave webs and fly and are faster than speeding bullets.
And in the case of Frank McCall (Denzel Washington) aka The Equalizer, they don home mart aprons and have powers too numerous to list.

 But don't doubt for a nanosecond that you're watching a superhero flick.

There's an epic battle between good and evil on the screen. This time in Boston. The good guys and girls might have stepped out of a Charles Dickens novel. And the bad guys, well, they're as over-the-top evil as Magneto or The Riddler.

Much has been made of the violence in  this movie. (It can't even be mentioned in the same sentence as the bloodshed in the critically, but not Movie Slut, acclaimed Django.)

As always, Denzel Washington is a riveting screen presence, who elevates what might otherwise be a pedestrian revenge movie.

And while we're on the subject of superhero flicks. They've all got sequels. Right?
At the end of The Equalizer, the stage is set for The Equalizer Returns.

Friday, September 26, 2014

My Old Lady: She may be old, but...

And you thought apartment battles were a New York City thing.
Well, think again.
Supposedly, in Paris there's a legality that precludes an owner from selling his property and even forcing him to pay rent to the apartment dweller.
This is the position Kevin Klein's character finds himself in, which is too bad since it's the only asset in his non-existent portfolio.
Maggie Smith occupies the apartment where she lives with her unpleasant daughter, Kristen Scott Thomas.
The biggest surprise about this movie is that despite the sterling cast and promising plot, it falls flatter than je ne sais quoi.
Based on a play by Israel Horovitz, this flick should have remained on stage. It's stagey. And worse. All the way to the tacked on "happy" ending.
If  you want to see a funny and insightful movie about an apartment in contention, rent The Break Up with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn.

Monday, September 22, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You: Sitting Shiver

Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver

When Dad dies, the Altman family unites to sit shiva in the Jewish tradition, in the exact spot where their Christmas tree used to be. Which pretty much explains the kind of people they are. A little of this. A little of that.

There's a temptation to call them a dysfunctional clan. But that's not how the Movie Slut sees them. They're thoroughly modern people struggling with an assortment of contemporary issues. And while they could be viewed as self-obsessed whiners — kvetchers is the better word—they could also be seen as striving to get it right.

This Is Where I Leave You is a comedy with pathos. Wendy's (Tina Fey) back story is particularly poignant. And Jane Fonda's Hillary, the matriarch, aptly juggles wisdom and superficiality.

The flick would have benefited from more vigorous editing. A character or two should have been left on the cutting room floor, particularly the cringe-worthy rabbi. Still, there's much here to love.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Love is Strange: Says Who?

John Lithgow & Frank Molina

There's nothing strange about the love shared by Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Frank Molina), unless we time travel back to the 1950s. By now, we all know that men can love men and women can love women. So what else does this perfectly nice movie have to offer?

Precious little, says the Movie Slut.

The plot revolves around the financial difficulties experienced by the couple when, after nearly four decades of living together, they finally get married. Ben is retired and George loses his job teaching at a Catholic school. Little is made of the hypocrisy that allowed him to keep his job as an openly gay unmarried guy. This movie is too nice for that.

This is not an anti-church movie. If anything, it's more about the difficulty of finding affordable housing in New York City.

Critics loved this movie. But the Movie Slut can't get past like.

"Love is Strange" benefits from glorious New York city photography and exquisite Chopin music. You may want to remain in the theater long after Ben and George leave the screen just to listen as the closing credits scroll by.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Drop: It's for you to decide

James Gandolfini and Tom Hardy
In a seedy bar on the wrong side of the tracks, Marv and Bob work together in quiet discomfort. Bad blood has flowed between Uncle Marv, who appears to be a hothead, and his nephew, who could pass for a dimwit. The drop, of course, is money for the mob and the wiseguys are lurking nearby.

The past infests every scene, keeping you at the edge of your seat. Even the girl (Roonie Mara), who Bob meets, is hiding something. And the puppy he finds beaten and left to die has a sad and violent past.

James Gandolfini died before this movie hit theaters, which adds to the haunted feel of this flick. Especially when he delivers the line (paraphrased here), "We're all dead already. We just don't know it."

In the end, moviegoers don't actually see the end,  leaving them to determine how dark this flick really is. So far, the Movie Slut hasn't made up her mind between two possible endings.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Last of Robin Hood: Rich & Poor

Kevin Kline, Dakota Fanning and Susan Sarandon make a silk purse out of a sow's ear in this thin film about the last days of movie legend Erroll Flynn.

It's the 1950s. He's pushing 50 and becomes infatuated with a teenage chorus girl. Her Mom (Sarandon) sees this as an opportunity for her daughter and the illegal relationship takes off.

It's difficult to get your knickers in a bunch over this illicit affair because Kline's Flynn is so immature, charismatic and needy while Fanning's Beverly is so responsible and mature beyond her years. And then there's Sarandon, who, despite her evil Mom behavior, isn't nearly as hateful as she needs to be.

For the Movie Slut, the '50s wardrobe was the highlight of this film. Oh those prim little dresses!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Identical: The King's Brother

Blake Rayne is Ryan Wade & Drexel Hemsley
What if Elvis's twin brother didn't die at birth? What if he were adopted by Ray Liotta (a preacher man)  and Ashley Judd (his pious wife)? What if his real name was Drexel Hemsley?

What if a silly movie was able to gyrate past foolishness and grab you by the heartstrings?

That's what The Identical does by being earnest, loving and ultimately lovable.

Unfortunately, no real Elvis music is played in this film and the substitutes don't come close to the electrifying songs. Still, Blake Rayne's impersonation is first rate.

If I Stay: The Staycation from Hell

Chloƫ Grace Moretz is Mia, a teen wrestling with the big question.

"To be or not to be" is the question Mia ponders in this four-tissue YA date flick. And not only does she echo Hamlet, she also sees a ghost. Not her father, the king, but herself, a musically gifted high school girl.

Despite the similarities, this movie is more Sparkian —as in Nicholas— than Shakespearean, even if the protagonist is haunted and conflicted and pondering a life-or-death decision.

It all starts on a winter day. School is called off, which means Mia's dad, who is a teacher, is getting a snow day, too. Her mother calls in sick and the family is together. So what do they do? Despite snow so heavy that schools are closed, they pile in the car and head out for a ride.

The Movie Slut found this stupidity difficult to ignore. Still, the movie had its appeal thanks to Mia's parents, who are grownup hippies, and her love for music, which brings Beethoven to the sidetrack.