Saturday, February 7, 2015

Seventh Son:

Ben Barnes and Jeff Bridges as the apprentice and the master
It's Godzilla meets Transformers, shape shifting witches morphing into flying dragons. Which is as it should be in a fantasy/action flick. And it certainly helps that the most malevolent one, Mother Malkin, is played by Julianne Moore.

Chasing her down is Master Gregory, Jeff Bridges, acting like the grog in his flask is the real stuff. Either than or he thought he was in a comedy.

Master Gregory takes on a new apprentice, Tom, a seventh son of a seventh son. Luckily, Ben Barnes, who looks like a young Keanu Reeves, acts as if he's in Julianne Moore's movie.

The Movie Slut is not a connoisseur of fantasy flicks, but this one is fun, or would have been if Jeff Bridges wasn't playing it like The Dude in mephistophelian beard. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Loft: Laughably Ludicrous

The Hooker, Rachael Taylor, and the psychiatrist, James Marsden
Five friends.
Five Keys.
One luxury loft apartment.
Five sour brunette wives.
Two sexy blondes.
One dead body.

Add these together and you should get a compelling whodunnit.
You don't.

James Marsden, the most likeable of the friends, is a psychiatrist with a bitter wife, a patient who's committed suicide, four friends who are despicable lowlifes in posh suits, and a girlfriend who's a prostitute.

The Movie Slut wouldn't want to be his patient even for a chipped nail.

The movie veers about with its unlikeable characters. There's another death, suspicious detectives, and enough red herrings to fill the Baltic Sea.

But not to worry, a tacked on rom-com ending will have you leaving the theater muttering "WTF?"

Monday, February 2, 2015

Still Alice: Is she?

Alice has it all. She's a well-regarded linguistics professor at Columbia University. She's married to a professor, has three grown children, an apartment in Manhattan and a beach house.

We meet her on her fiftieth birthday, a shining moment with her family.

But soon her perfect life begins unraveling. She gets lost jogging on campus. She forgets the words to a speech. Her agile mind becomes cloudy. She is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. The rest of the movie chronicles her slow, inevitable, and frightening decline.

Still Alice is one of this year's many movies that seem to be made to thrust a star into an Oscar-winning role. And Julianne Moore has already won a Golden Globe for her stellar performance. Alec Baldwin, as her husband, and Kristin Stewart, as her younger daughter, give laudable performances, too.

Despite the devastating subject, Still Alice never plummets into despair, which probably has to do with the book it is based on by Lisa Genova. But it also makes you wonder about those who don't have the means to hire a home healthcare aide and aren't surrounded by a family that can be at their side. 

A Most Violent Year: Slick. And Oily?

Abel Moarales (Oscar Issac) is an ambitious, smart, hard-working businessman. He's worked his way up and now owns an oil-delivery company. The year in question is 1981, and he's on the brink of expansion. But everything is working against him.

He's being investigated by a suspicious district attorney.
His deliverymen are being attacked.
His oil is being stolen.
He is threatened in his home.

But he's a tough guy in his own right. And is matched by his scrappy wife, Jessica Chastain, his partner in every sense of the term.

She's part of the problem with this well-acted and filmed movie. We know that she's the daughter of a mafia kingpin and despite her Armani wardrobe, she hasn't really upgraded herself. There still the Brooklyn accent, the declasse manicure and the expletive-laced language.

And while we're at it, what about hubby? Is he the honorable businessman he purports to be, or is he a crook as the DA believes? Or is he just a little bit crooked? And can you be just a little crooked?

How moviegoers feel about him is important in their investment in the outcome. But the movie doesn't bother to let us know.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Blackhat: Hack Attack


A Japanese nuclear reactor blows up.
The futures market goes kerflooey.

Uber-hacker Nick Hathaway is the white hat to connect the dots and stop the Blackhat. But he's in prison!

One ankle-bracelet and stern talking-to later and he's sprung.

What ensues is a hectic globe dash in pursuit of the evil-doer who's onto something bigger.
And he's off.

Maybe you, dear movie-goer, will figure out what the heck is going on. But don't waste  your gray cells. The Movie Slut suspects that's not the point. As is happens, our hacking ace is also handy with an assault rifle—an action figure come to life to leave dead bodies in his wake. (After he's removed the pesky ankle bracelet, of course.)

Yeah, it's that kinda flick.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

American Sniper: See it and decide for yourself

Bradley Cooper as a buffed up Chris Kyle, Navy Seal sniper.
American Sniper has been accused of glorifying war and the men and women who do battle. The film has also been called an anti-war movie that depicts the horrors of such conflicts.
And then, some say it's nothing more than an anti-Arab, anti-Muslim screed.

It can't have all of these contradictory themes and that's why the Movie Slut considers it a Rorshach test in which moviegoers attach their own feelings about war and soldiers.

The film is based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle, a Navy Seal sniper, who is said to have the most enemy kills in U.S. history. And yet, he's not the prototypical gung ho warrior. Actually, he was a bit off before he enlisted to go to Iraq and a total wreck after four tours of duty.

The movie is directed by Clint Eastwood whom the MS has never associated with the word "nuance" until now. He portrays Kyle as both war hero and victim.

Also interesting is the video game approach to violence. Think of the movie as four video games with a brief intro and epilogue and see how you interpret it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Selma: History brought to life

The march to Montgomery for voter rights.
It's the story, stupid.

That's what the Movie Slut always says. In other words, a terrific story makes a terrific movie (or book or newspaper story.) So why isn't this movie about Dr. Martin Luther King's struggle to get the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed an unequivocal winner?

Sure, there are powerful moments. Some that brought MS to tears. The beginning was shocking. The end was inspiring. Alas, the middle had too many draggy moments.

Still, MS calls this flick a must-see. She'd even see it again.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Unbroken: Story of a Real Super Man

Jack O'Connell as Louie Zamperini

First things first.

It's important to know that this movie is based on a book of the same title by Laura Hillenbrand. That book is subtitled, "A World War II story of survival, resilience & redemption." So, if like the Movie Slut, you expect to see a story about the entire life of the inspiring Louie Zamperini, you'll be disappointed.

You will see a bit of his early life. How the boy, who was always in trouble, became an Olympic runner. But you're quickly swept to WWII during which Louie was a bombadier. After his plane was shot down, he and three other airmen spent 47 days afloat in a raft. (Sharks, etc.) But that was nothing compared to his treatment at a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

Most of the 137-minute movie chroniclers his torture at the camp where he was singled out for the worst cruelty.

It's not easy watching.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Into the Woods: Scary Bad

Meryl Streep as the  Witchy Woman
Once a Broadway show with ticket prices in the triple digits, you can now see ITW for as little as $6 if you go on bargain Wednesdays in White Plains, NY. And the Movie Slut is sure glad she did, because that's about as much as the dud is worth.

The basic idea is fine: Weaving together a bunch of fairy tales into one mega-tale. You've got your witch (Meryl Streep); your wolf (Johnny Depp); a scullery maid (Anna Kendrik), with two wicked step sisters; a girl with loooooong blond hair; a little girl with a fondness for crimson hooded capes. Oh, yeah, you've also got a giant (two, actually), a beanstalk; a baker; a prince (Chris Pine) (Two of these, too.), etc., etc., etc.

The characters all have one thing in common. They long for something absent in their lives. But you know what they say about wishes. Be careful blah, blah, blah, blah.

All that could make for a fine flick, but in true Broadway style, the story had to be stretched until it was as thin as one gray hair on the head of a wicked witch. On and on  it went until the MS wanted her $6 back.

The Gambler: A Good Bet

Mark Wahlberg as the guy who says he's not a gambler.
Sometimes the Movie Slut wonders if she saw the same movie as the other critics. They've called this flick a poor remake of the 1974 movie of the same title, starring James Caan. But what if it wasn't.

"I'm not a gambler," James Toback (Mark Wahlberg) says many times in the film.

 And sure, he could be in denial or just pulling a con-man move.

But what if something more was behind his protestation, something more interesting than a guy with an addiction to throwing away his money in a casino?

That would be more interesting. At least the MS thinks it is and that's how she viewed this movie. Her tip offs were the opening and closing scenes.

 See it and decide for yourself.

Big Eyes: Wink Wink

Amy Adams as Margaret Keane

Full Disclosure: The Movie Slut owned a Keane "Big Eyes" painting when she was in college.

She loved it for it's pure kitchyness.

And so when this movie came to a nearby theater, she rushed there on opening night. And it was an eye opener.

Big Eyes is very much a feminist flick. In case you need a reminder about where a woman's place was in the 1960s, this is the movie for you.

If you're wondering how these cheesy paintings became the phenomenon they were, well, you'll just  have to chalk it up to bad taste. The MS is guilty as charged.

Wild: Happy Trails

After her mother dies and a drug-fueled downward spiral ending in infidelity and divorce, a young woman picks herself up and heads for the Pacific Crest Trail. Her plan: To hike 1,000 miles and return herself to physical and mental health.

There are blisters and tears and moments of real danger from the elements and people encountered along the way. But the highs outweigh the lows.

Reese Witherspoon plays this woman, and it is a testament to her acting skills that this movie is as good as it is. And this based-on-a-true-story flick is very, very good.


Theory of Everything: Or Nothing


Annie: It's a hard knocks flick

Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie

Quvenzhan√© Wallis deserves better than this. 

The little girl who dazzled us in Beasts of the Southern Wild has star power to spare. It just isn't fair that she's stuck in a lackluster remake of this wonderful show-turned-movie.

Almost everything is this film is off. Take Sandy, the shaggy-haired dog Annie befriends. Here he's a tidy, short-haired pooch, making the Movie Slut wonder if someone in the movie had a dog-hair allergy.

And then there's the music, so excellent in the original. Why were three new unmemorable songs added?

Even Cameron Diaz, who seems made for the part of the wickedly funny Miss Hannigan, is off her game.

The MS could go on, but why beat a dead dog, long or short haired. If you want a dose of the-sun-will-come-out-tomorrow optimism, the 1977 version is still available.