Easy Virtue

Movie Man Mike delivers a different spin on a current release

Easy Virtue. (B+). This was a great light-hearted film. The quick English wit reminded me a bit of an Oscar Wilde play, but this one was based upon a play written by another English playwright, Noel Coward. The casting was spot-on, with Kristen Scott Thomas (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) as Mrs. Whittaker, the mother. Colin Firth (Bridget Jones’s Diary) plays Mr. Whittaker, the father. Larita Whittaker (Jessica Biel, Total Recall) is an American racecar driver who has just married the Whittakers’ son, John (Ben Barnes, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian). Larita is a bit older than John. From the git-go, Mrs. Whittaker makes it clear that she disapproves of Larita and what’s more, she doesn’t want Larita and John to leave their country estate to move to the big city of London. The two women declare a polite war on one another and the fun begins. The butler, Furber (Kris Marshall, Love Actually), also provides some great comic relief. I recommend this independent film to our readers. It’s a refreshing break from the action-packed summer blockbuster movies.

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The Hangover

A movie review from The Bleacher Bum

The Hangover: Sometimes a movie knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything more. The Hangover is that type of movie. It doesn’t try to send a message; it doesn’t try confuse with twists and turns; and it surely doesn’t pull on the heart strings. All it does is make you hurt with laughter. It honors the long-standing American tradition of the debaucherous Las Vegas bachelor party. And it pulls no punches. One of the guys is getting married. The groom and the three groomsman travel to Sin City to party. A chicken, Mike Tyson (Tyson), a baby, a stolen cop car, Rain Man’s suit, a mattress, and an unpleasant naked kidnapped Asian gangster are left in their wake. (Make sure you stay through the credits.)

Bleacher Bum Movie Scale: Homerun, Triple, Double, Single, Strikeout

The Hangover: Homerun with runners on base

Up

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Up (B+). The animated short that precedes this new Pixar release is called Partly Cloudy, if memory serves. We all know that storks bring new babies, but did you ever wonder where the storks get the babies from? This enjoyable short proposes one answer to that question. You’ve probably heard all about the feature presentation–a grumpy old widower (voice of Ed Asner, TV’s Mary Tyler Moore) ties about a million helium-filled balloons to his house and takes off for adventure in South America. A rotund little cub scout accidentally stows away on his front porch. The two of them reach South America and have adventures. Truth be told, the movie kinds of drags in the middle. But the opening sequence, which tells the story of the widower’s childhood and marriage in just a few minutes, is marvelous and heartbreaking, and the end of the movie picks up the steam that the middle is sorely lacking. It’s worth seeing, but it could have been better

Phoebe in Wonderland

A review from The Borg Queen

Phoebe in Wonderland: A-

I loved this film. I knew nothing about it when I downloaded it from my Netflix queue to my TV, except that I recognized some of the people in the movie. It centers on a 9-year old girl named Phoebe, played by Elle Fanning (Dakota Fanning’s younger sister). The Netflix description just says that a girl gets into trouble into school and gets a part in the play, Alice in Wonderland, upon which the characters begin to speak to her. While that is generally true, the story is so much more. This story is actually about a young girl onsetting with a mental illness. The film captures the torment and confusion the child faces during this transition period, the blame and guilt parents impose on themselves, and the problem of labeling someone with a disease. It also portrays the frustration, anger, and protective feelings siblings deal with when growing up with a mentally ill sibling. Once the movie began, I couldn’t stop watching. The caliber of acting in this film was superb. Elle did a phenomenal job and portrayed her character with emotion and honesty far beyond her years. There was one scene in particular with her mother where she begins to cry because she is so scared, confused, sorry, and a wealth of other emotions that you can’t help but feel like you want to jump into the TV to console her. The movie also stars Felicity Huffman (TV’s Desperate Housewives), Bill Pullman (Independence Day), Patricia Clarkson (TV’s Frazier), and Campbell Scott (Music and Lyrics). This is an inspirational and honest movie that presents this topic in an endearing, entertaining way.

Easy Virtue

A new review from the desk of The Movie Snob

Easy Virtue (C-). What could be more up The Movie Snob’s alley than a movie set in 1920s England and starring Kristin Scott Thomas (Gosford Park) as a snobbish Brit? Throw in Colin Firth (The Last Legion) as her war-damaged husband and Jessica Biel (The Illusionist) as the brazen American race-car driver who marries into the family, and the movie ought to work. But it just doesn’t. None of the characters is very sympathetic–not even Firth’s, who is clearly supposed to be. I guess we’re also supposed to root for Biel’s character, because she bothers to learn the servants’ names and because Thomas’s matriarch treats her so poorly, but I didn’t find her character likeable either. Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian), who plays Biel’s husband, is a total cipher. And, as my movie-going compadre pointed out, Biel’s dramatic speech at the end seems modern to the point of anachronism. I wonder whether it is really part of the original Noel Coward play. I doubt I will ever bother to find out. Skip it.

Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

Nick at Nite’s latest review

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Youth is wasted on the young. This is not the greatest movie ever made – it is not even Michael Cera’s best work – but it is a quirky, sometimes funny, often charming tale of young love. Nick and Norah – who are both in or just out of bad relationships – are pushed together by fate – the search for a drunk friend and an underground concert. Their trip through New York City in a beaten up yellow Yugo is an entertaining ride. This movie made me want to be 18 again. I give it an “A.”

Eagle Eye

Nick at Nick pulls no punches

Eagle Eye

Does anyone really care what Shia LaBeouf is doing if he is not wrecking a car, breaking into a pharmacy, or appearing in a Transformers movie? This movie is bad. LaBeouf is set up as a terrorist by some Orwellian computer that is trying to function as an all encompassing “Homeland Security” program for America. Of course, the computer goes all Hal on us and LaBeouf must race to save us all. I was bored and confused. Skip this movie. I give it an “F.”