Exploitative documentary about a reclusive mother and her 56-year-old daughter both named Edith Beale, in Grey Gardens, a crumbling mansion in Gothic decay. Film documents their once high society lifestyle and current circumstances in utter squalor in the wealthy neighborhood of East Hampton, NY. How they ended up this way, is never fully explained. What is shown are two lives, unrefined and vulnerable. The Beales sing, bicker and preen, all for the camera without embarrassment. Their dependence on one another is at once, comforting and pathetic. You want to look away, but you just can’t.
Archive for June, 2009
Sci-Fi actioner is a loud, chaotic mess, occasionally reaching sublime heights of ridiculousness. Confusing plot concerns evil Decepticon Transformers pursuing our hero Sam Witwicky for a shard of the “All Spark”, while being protected by the good Autobot Transformers. One’s enjoyment of the film will be inversely proportional to your demands for a sensible, well plotted film. Virtually every supporting character is such a crudely written caricature, it’s laughable. Whether this humor is intentional, is unclear, but it is riotously funny at times, and that should count for something.
Somewhat overrated musical drama set in decadent Berlin before the rise of the Nazis under Adolf Hitler. Liza Minnelli is a standout as Miss Sally Bowles, a flamboyant American singer at the Kit Kat Klub. Flashy musical numbers are the highlight of the film, and personify the events happening in the real world. In particular, Joel Grey’s duet with Minnelli, “Money, Money” is a showstopper. Has the dubious distinction of having won the most Academy Awards (8) without actually winning Best Picture.
Absorbing fantasy about a young man in search of a fallen star he promises to bring back to win the heart of his true love. Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn’s script is breathtaking in its ability to masterfully weave multiple storylines in creating an otherworldly universe that will delight, amuse and enchant.
Whimsical crime comedy about a pair of con-men brothers who mastermind one last scheme to deceive an eccentric millionaire out of her money. Predictably, one of them falls in love with the attractive victim. Director Rian Johnson’s follow-up to his stylish Brick, feels inspired by the films of Wes Anderson. It’s just as charming, but a bit more artificial. Despite the convoluted and nonsensical story, the leads are charismatic and it is an enjoyable romp, overall.
Cute romantic comedy about a she-devil of a book editor who blackmails her persecuted assistant into marriage in order to avoid being deported to Canada. You’ll guess every plot point before it happens in this predictable story. However, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds exhibit genuine chemistry and their romance is appealing enough to carry the film. Betty White steals every scene she’s in as Grandma Annie.
Gripping WWII drama based on a true story about four Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Poland who provide shelter for a constantly growing number of refugees. Director Edward Zwick has a habit of taking the extraordinary and rendering it ordinary in his films. Nevertheless, it’s the intense battle scenes of the Jewish refugees who courageously fight against the Nazis while living in the harsh woods, that make the film so compelling. Features James Newton Howard’s powerfully moving score.
Weak teen sex comedy about two high school football players who join a cheer camp in order to be around female cheerleaders. Halfhearted script is never bold enough to commit to the kind of raunchy comedy this film requires. As a result the film feels dull and uninspired. Most importantly, it’s just not funny. To describe this film as a cross between Bring It On and Wedding Crashers is an insult to those two vastly superior films.
Astonishing performance from Maggie Smith highlights this somewhat stuffy character study about a forward thinking schoolteacher who refuses to follow the school’s curriculum. Miss Jean Brodie’s liberated views of love, politics and art are too much for a conservative girls’ school in 1930s Scotland. Maggie Smith’s tour de force performance deservedly won an Oscar for the title role, however actress Pamela Franklin is also memorable as Sandy, the student who becomes her biggest threat.
Amusing comedic farce follows three groomsmen who wake up the next morning after a wild night of carousing in Vegas, missing their buddy who is about to be married. Director Todd Phillips cleverly unfolds the story in pieces, as we join our buddies in solving the mystery of what happened to their missing friend. Goofy, rowdy and frantic, it’s the joy of discovery that is so much fun. Pulls off the near impossible in making our stars so likeable and sympathetic, despite their reckless behavior. Not the comedy classic the hype would have you believe, it still is an enjoyable adventure. Has some of the most significant (and funniest) end credits ever in a film.