The Wolfman

A new review from The Movie Snob

The Wolfman (C). I’m not familiar with any of this film’s famous predecessors (not even Teen Wolf), so I approached it with a fresh eye. It boasts a strong cast (Benicio del Toro of Traffic, Emily Blunt of The Devil Wears Prada, Anthony Hopkins of everything under the sun, even good old Geraldine Chaplin of Doctor Zhivago and BloodRayne) and buckets of gore, but that doesn’t make up for the lackluster plot and the lack of decently earned scares. Sure, you jump a couple of times when someones jumps into the frame from off screen, accompanied by a horrifically loud noise, but where’s the art in that? Anyway, some nasty critter is loose in the 1891 British countryside, killing Gypsies and Englishmen indiscriminately, and Lawrence Talbot (del Toro) takes it on himself to figure out what’s going on after his brother is killed by the monster. Lawrence gets bitten but survives. Bad Things ensue. The movie is adequate for a matinee, but I wouldn’t pay full price.

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An Education

From The Movie Snob

An Education (A-). This 2009 release has been nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress for young Carey Mulligan (Pride & Prejudice). I think the nominations are deserved. Mulligan plays Jenny, a bright British schoolgirl in 1961. Her dad (played by Alfred Molina, Chocolat) is a loutish fellow who is set on Jenny’s going to Oxford, for all the wrong reasons. So when David, a suave fellow in his 30s, comes sniffing around Jenny, he easily gets dad to bless the relationship by pretending to be an Oxford man himself–with connections. A sordid affair begins, with David’s friends Danny (Dominic Cooper, Mamma Mia!) and Helen (Rosamund Pike, Pride & Prejudice) looking on. Peter Sarsgaard (The Skeleton Key) does a good job of playing David convincingly as someone that a naive schoolgirl could find attractive despite an underlying creepiness. A good film about a creepy subject–especially creepy considering that it is based on someone’s memoir.

When in Rome

From the pen of The Movie Snob

When in Rome (D+). I planned to give this weak romantic comedy a D, but then I remembered that I gave Leap Year a D, and this movie was slightly less horrible than that one. Truly, all the best bits were in the preview (and a couple of amusing lines in the preview were excised from the movie!). Perky blond Beth (Kristen Bell, Couples Retreat) is a workaholic junior curator at the Guggenheim. She goes to Rome for her little sister’s wedding, and in a state of drunken self-pity she fishes four coins and a poker chip out of the magical Fountain of Love. Four random strangers immediately fall in love with her and start stalking her. So does a hunky and suitable guy she met at her sister’s wedding. Unfunny hijinks ensue. The “twist” ending is visible from miles away. There’s a pretty funny gag involving Jon “Napoleon Dynamite” Heder, who plays one of the unfunny suitors, but it doesn’t make the rest any less painful. Skip it.

The Investor’s Manifesto (book review)

Book review from The Movie Snob

The Investor’s Manifesto: Preparing for Prosperity, Armageddon, and Everything in Between, by William J. Bernstein (2010). I bought and read this book because it was recommended by Dallas Morning News financial columnist Scott Burns. Not surprisingly, the advice contained in the book is pretty similar to what Burns always prescribes.Bernstein, a neurologist-turned-financial-guy, argues for a simple approach to personal finance. Don’t strive to get rich by investing; the proper goal is to achieve modest returns and avoid spending your golden years in poverty. Accordingly, start saving now, and save as much as you can. Diversify your investments widely, and minimize investment expenses. Expense minimization means avoiding the financial-services industry as much as possible. (His chapter about the industry is called “Muggers and Worse.”) Bernstein also includes some stuff about the best ways to estimate future returns on stocks and bonds, and he tries to dumb it down as far as he can, but he still lost me. To me, Bernstein’s practical advice on simple, effective investment strategies is the most important part of the book, and I liked it.

Wildfire: Feel the Heat

Movie review from The Movie Snob

Wildfire: Feel the Heat (B-). Once again, the Little Rock IMAX theater spurns the cutting edge in favor of the antiquated–in this case, a 1999 documentary about wildfires and the men and women who risk life and limb to fight them. It’s actually fairly interesting. We get to see some of the training that American forest firefighters go through, follow some flame-jumpers down to fight a small Idaho blaze, and see some footage of ferocious California and Australia wildfires. Of course, it does leave you wondering how the technology in this area has improved since the 20th century….