Once

A new movie review from The Movie Snob

Once (B+). This little Irish film has apparently been getting pretty good reviews. The protagonists are charmingly referred to in the movie and the credits simply as the Guy and the Girl. The Guy (played by one of the guitarists in The Commitments) is a middle-aged Irish guy who plays the guitar, writes his own songs, and sings on street corners. The Girl is a noticeably younger woman from the Czech Republic who also loves music, plays the piano, and sings and writes songs. A delicate friendship is born after the Girl strikes up a conversation with the Guy. They play and sing together, and each gets to know a little about the sorrows the other has experienced. Will they act on their attraction to each other? How many movies have turned on that question? This is a better rendition of that age-old theme than many, and the music isn’t bad. Worth a look.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (B). Director Frank Capra (You Can’t Take It With You) re-teamed with Jimmy Stewart (Vertigo) and Jean Arthur (Shane) for this tale of a decent but apolitical guy (Mr. Smith, played by Stewart) who is unexpectedly appointed to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. The senior senator from his state, at the direction of the political boss who basically runs the state, is on the verge of pushing through an appropriations bill that has hidden within it a dam project that will make the boss fabulously rich. Unfortunately, the innocent Mr. Smith decides to try his hand at bill-writing and proposes to build a camp for poor boys–exactly on the site of the dam project. This sets up a memorable showdown between Smith and the political machine. The depiction of corruption in the Senate was apparently quite controversial at the time. Completely corny, but still an enjoyable film.

You Can’t Take It With You

DVD review from The Movie Snob

You Can’t Take It With You (C). I continued my survey of “The Premiere Frank Capra Collection” with this movie, starring an exceedingly young Jimmy Stewart (Rear Window). He plays the only son and heir of a heartless tycoon. Somehow, Stewart’s character has grown up to be a decent guy with no interest in business or banking, even though he has been groomed to take over his father’s business. Instead, he is in love with his secretary, played by Jean Arthur (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). His girlfriend, we come to see, lives in a big house full of eccentrics, headed up by Grandpa, played by Lionel Barrymore (Grand Hotel). When he finally takes his parents to meet her family, fireworks ensue. Will love conquer all? Will the old tycoon see the wisdom of Grandpa’s carefree ways? Pretty mediocre stuff, although it is interesting to try to figure out Capra’s views on economics, since the Great Depression was still gripping America when this film came out.

Fracture

New from The Movie Snob

Fracture (C+). Despite a warning from my sister that this legal thriller was pretty mediocre, I spent a chunk of my Sunday afternoon on it. It stars Anthony Hopkins (Noah) and this hotshot newcomer Ryan Gosling (The Big Short), and the Dallas Morning News reviewer gave it a B. Plus, it co-stars Rosamund Pike, who played the icily gorgeous femme fatale Miranda Frost in the James Bond flick Die Another Day. So it seemed to have potential. Anyhoo, Sir Anthony plays a brilliant aircraft engineer who discovers that his much-younger wife (Embeth Davidtz, Schindler’s List) is having an affair. He shoots her in the face, but she survives, and he insists on representing himself in the subsequent trial for attempted murder. Gosling is the D.A. who draws a case, a cocky lawyer who’s about to quit prosecuting in favor of a job with a big corporate law firm. But the alleged perpetrator has a few surprises for him in the courtroom. I was never bored, but I didn’t leave satisfied either. Go see the German flick The Lives of Others before it disappears from the Inwood Theater instead.

P.S. This is post number 601 on The Movie Court!

Waitress

New from The Movie Snob

Waitress (B-). This little movie has its heart in the right place but never really takes off. Jenna (Keri Russell, Felicity) is a waitress in a diner in a small Southern town. She’s sad because she’s married to Earl (Jeremy Sisto, Clueless), a childish, loutish, potentially violent loser of a husband and because she’s just found out that she’s pregnant, which complicates her plan to squirrel away enough money to run away and never come back. Nathan Fillion (Serenity) plays the new ob/gyn in town, and he and Jenna have an affair that brings her temporary relief from her sad existence. Andy Griffith (The Andy Griffith Show) plays the owner of the diner and dispenses homey wisdom. OK but not great. The movie’s sad coda is that writer/director/co-star Adrienne Shelly was murdered in NYC in November 2006.

Rocky Balboa, 28 Weeks Later

Two new reviews from Nick at Nite

Rocky Balboa. I pity the fool who don’t see this movie. Gone are all the stupid storylines. No match with Hulk Hogan. No match with evil Russian. No match with kid from down the street. This is a stripped down version of Rocky. Like the original Rocky, the focus in this movie is the character and his common sense, charisma, and gentle nature. This movie is good for all the reasons that the original was good. Don’t dismiss Rocky Balboa because they misfired in Rocky III and Rocky IV – act like they never existed and put this movie in the DVD queue. You won’t be disappointed. It is a good bookend with the first movie and nice way to see Rocky go off into the sunset. Plus, as much as we knock Stallone. Remember his Oscar? Remember what it was for? Well, there is a little glimpse of that in this movie. I give it a “B.”

28 Weeks Later. First, a tirade. Went to the movies at 10:10 on Saturday night. I don’t know what people are thinking, but there were a ton of little kids out at this time seeing movies. Worse, there were some in 28 Weeks Later. This is not Mary Poppins. What is the world coming to? I remember when I was a teenager I would go to the late movie, we went because no one else did. Why aren’t these kids at home, sleeping? Almost seems like child abuse to me. Second, the movie. Not as good as the first one. I don’t think this one is directed by Danny Boyle. However, it is quite good. It is essentially a continuation of the first movie. The focus is on different characters that survive the first 28 days of the “rage” that is portrayed in the first movie, only to be subjected to a disastrous turn of events 28 weeks later. Recall the “rage” is a infectious disease that was spread from infected monkeys to humans when a science experiment went tragically wrong. The “rage” almost instantly turned the infected into the flesh eating Zombies (is there any other kind of Zombies?). Apart from a Jaws 4-like Zombie that is able to track down his prey, this movie is believable, scary, entertaining, and fun to watch. We follow two kids who return to London 28 weeks after the original infection has wiped out the British population. The Zombies apparently all starved to death because they had no food. The kids were away on a school trip at the time of the original infection. A U.S. led NATO force is helping the repatriation of British residents who were away at the time of the original infection. The U.S. led NATO force establishes a green zone just like in Iraq and it has numerous problems just like the green zone in Iraq. I enjoyed the movie. Check it out. I give it an “A.”

Spider-Man 3 – take two

From The Movie Snob

Spider-Man 3 (B-). I don’t have too much to add to Mike’s analysis. This movie is pretty much more of the same — too much more, at 2 hours and twenty minutes in length. It’s just too long. And after seeing Spidey get slammed through walls and into steel girders for the 20th time, I started to think come on, he’s not Superman for crying out loud. And I go back and forth on whether Kirsten Dunst (Midnight Special) is actually attractive or not; this movie had me more in the “not” category. Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) was much more fetching. But you be the judge.