Atlantic City

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Atlantic City (B-). Although this 1980 release scored five Academy Award nominations, I found it a little dated and a little cheesy; nevertheless, I still enjoyed it. Burt Lancaster (From Here To Eternity) stars as Lou, a sad, older fellow who used to run around with gangsters but now spends his time running numbers (what does that mean, exactly?), running errands for the obnoxious widow of another gangster, and spying on Sally (Susan Sarandon, Solitary Man), the attractive woman in the apartment next to his. (Although they’re next-door neighbors, somehow they have facing windows he can spy on Sally through.) Sally’s no-good husband (and her dippy sister, who’s carrying hubby’s baby) blows into town with some cocaine he stole from some mobsters in Philly, and he hits Lou up to help him fence the stuff. The mobsters don’t take long to track the stolen goods to Atlantic City, and someone’s bound to get hurt. As thrillers go, it ain’t The Fugitive, but it’s not a bad little movie. The DVD comes with virtually no extras, but I paid $3 for it at Big Lots!, so I guess I can’t complain.

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The Tourist

Nick at Nite goes sightseeing with The Tourist

The Tourist.

Sadly, this movie is not receiving a fair shake. Everyone wants to complain – Jolie and Depp have no chemistry, it is not an action film, it is not a romantic comedy, it doesn’t know what it is – well those complainers should come down from their ivory towers and give this film a chance. The Tourist is not the best movie ever made, but it is entertaining and worth the price of the ticket to a first run feature. It reminds me of some of the better 70s or 80s thrillers (not meant to be ironic). Think Three Days of the Condor and Robert Redford. The movie has some action, a plot, some twists, a few laughs, and a ton of scenery to chew on. Jolie plays the girlfriend of a financial thief. Depp is the hapless tourist that is thrust into Jolie’s intrigue. The co-star of this movie is Venice. Wow, I want to go there. I give this move an “A.” Ignore the other reviews. Go see it.

The Fighter

New review from The Movie Snob

The Fighter (B+). Mark Wahlberg (I Heart Huckabees) stars in this based-on-a-true-story movie about Mickey Ward, a boxer from the blue-collar Boston suburb of Lowell, Mass. Ward has grown up in the shadow of his older brother, Dickey (Christian Bale, Reign of Fire), who never fulfilled his potential as a boxer and has now descended into crack addiction. Worse, Dickey and the boys’ mother Alice (Melissa Leo, Everybody’s Fine) are terrible managers for Mickey and get him into fights he can’t possibly win. But then Mickey starts dating a tough bargirl named Charlene (Amy Adams, redeeming herself from Leap Year) who teaches him to stand up for himself, and he has a shot at building a real boxing career. It’s not the most original story, but the plot does throw a couple of minor curveballs to keep it interesting. And the acting is fine all the way around, especially Bale as the drug-addled and semi-crazy Dickey.

Black Swan

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Black Swan (B). I wasn’t as bowled over by this movie as Movie Man Mike was, but it’s definitely worth seeing if you’re into freaky, psychological shenanigans. Natalie Portman (The Other Boleyn Girl) stars as Nina, a ballerina on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Her smothering mother (Barbara Hershey, Hannah and Her Sisters) and mean director (Vincent Cassel, Birthday Girl) don’t help matters any, but you get the feeling that most of Nina’s demons are the result of her own desperate quest for perfection. It’s not a horror movie, but there are a couple of startling moments. It’s worth seeing, and Portman gives a gutsy performance.

Sense and Sensibility (book review)

A book review from The Movie Snob

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen. I saw the movie version starring Emma Thompson (Dead Again) many years ago and loved it, but I’ve never seen it again, and I had never read the book either. It was Austen’s first published novel, and it is not on the same level as some of her others, but it is still an enjoyable read. It’s about two teenaged sisters, Elinor and Marianne, whose father dies and leaves their financial prospects rather uncertain. Elinor is intelligent, practical, and grounded, while Marianne is romantic and impetuous. This being Austen, of course both sisters fall in love, and the twin love stories drive the plot. Willoughby, the dashing young man of uncertain character who sweeps Marianne off her feet, is certainly one of the Austen’s most lively and vivid creations. I definitely want to watch the movie again after reading the book (even though, as a friend recently remarked to me, Emma Thompson had to be at least 20 years too old to play Elinor).

Peyton Place

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Peyton Place (C+). This 1957 production scooped up nine Academy Award nominations without a win. Although melodramatic and soapy by today’s standards, I thought it was still a decently entertaining (if long, at 156 minutes) experience. It’s 1941, and Peyton Place is a lovely, quiet New England town–on the surface. The film focuses on a handful of teenagers who are graduating from high school, and a handful of adults such as the school’s new principal and the attractive widow who runs the town’s dress shop (played by Lana Turner, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). A major theme of the movie is the adults’ concern and fear over their kids’ growing curiosity about sex–they probably come across as puritanical prudes to modern generations, but there’s no doubt they were prescient about what the future held. And considering that the movie was made in 1957, I thought it was a pretty forward-looking attempt to reckon with a range of difficult subjects, from sex education in the schools to domestic abuse and rape. Worth a look.

Pillow Talk

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Pillow Talk (F). Oh, my! This was my first Doris Day movie, and I was amazed at how bad it was. I thought it would be fluffy and corny, but I assumed it would still be a little bit entertaining. Not so much. Day (Lover Come Back) plays Jan Morrow, a happily single interior designer in NYC. Rock Hudson (Lover Come Back) plays Brad Allen, a womanizing songwriter who happens to share a party line with Morrow. (Back in the old days, if you can believe it, people sometimes had to share their home telephone lines with complete strangers. This was called a “party line,” although it seems like it wouldn’t be much of a party to share the line with someone who monopolized it all the time.) Anyhoo, Morrow and Allen argue a lot over his excessive telephone use, but then he chances to see her in real life. She’s a cute blond, so he adopts a false identity and sets out to woo her. Tony Randall (Lover Come Back) plays Jonathan Forbes, Allen’s chum and competitor for Morrow’s affections. The movie is completely lacking in wit, and the few songs showcased in the film are terrible. Don’t waste your time on this dog!