Tron: Legacy

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Tron: Legacy (D-). At least I had the good sense to wait to see this dog at the dollar theater. But maybe I’m being unfair. I knew going in that it was going to be a nonsensical movie about a guy getting zapped by a laser and sucked into a computer, where he would find a futuristic society inhabited by computer programs that look and act like people. Nevertheless, I felt severely let down by this movie, which was relentlessly loud much of the time and featured dialogue of sub-Star Warsian quality the rest of the time. How Jeff Bridges (True Grit) kept a straight face is a huge mystery; surely they had to use CGI magic to edit out his embarrassed giggles. Two things save this piece of dreck from getting an F: the lovely Olivia Wilde (Cowboys & Aliens), who plays a brunette computer program named Quorra who has been living with Bridges’s character for the last 20 years, and the lovely Beau Garrett (Turistas), who plays an icy blond computer program named Gem who is good at smiling enigmatically. But despite their charms, I must urge you to avoid this movie!

True Grit

New review from The Movie Snob

True Grit (A). I am unfamiliar with the book and the John Wayne version of this movie, so I had no preconceived notions–except that I would probably like this movie because I’ve liked everything I’ve seen by the Coen brothers for a long time. (I still don’t get Barton Fink, though.) Obviously, I thoroughly liked this movie. Hailee Steinfeld is wonderful as Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl whose father has just been murdered in 1870s Fort Smith, Arkansas (on the border with the Indian Territory). Smart and determined, she persuades broken-down federal marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges, Tron) to pursue the murderer into the Indian Territory for the promise of a $100 reward. Matt Damon (The Informant!) plays LaBoeuf, a Texas ranger who’s tracking the same guy for a crime he committed in Texas. The dialogue is strangely elevated, almost like a Whit Stillman film, but it somehow seems right. Mayhem is never far away as they track the villainous Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin, The Goonies). Good stuff!

Another Year

A new review from The Movie Snob

Another Year (A-). This new movie from British director Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky) has been getting lots of critical acclaim, and I say it is well deserved. It’s a quiet, simple little movie about a year in the life of Tom and Jerri, a happily married couple in their early 60s, and a small handful of their friends and family. There’s their son Joe, who’s a content bachelor of about 30. There’s Tom’s old chum Ken, who comes out for a visit. But most of all there’s Mary, a divorced woman of about 50 or so who is a secretary at the clinic where Jerri works as a counselor (psychologist?). Mary is divorced and alone and has been sort of beaten down by life, and she tries to keep her spirits up by talking a lot in a chirpy sort of way and by drinking too much. This is a quiet little film full of nice performances, but I agree with the folks who say that Leslie Manville (A Christmas Carol) should have gotten an Oscar nod for her fabulous turn as the fragile Mary. I’d give it an A, but I did feel it dragged just a tad bit at the end. Still, a wonderful movie, well worth seeing.

Sanctum

A new review from Nick at Nite

Sanctum

The director of this movie was allowed to borrow the cameras used by James Cameron in Avatar, too bad it wasn’t written by Cameron. It is not a terrible movie. It is just not original. The movie is a copy of Descent 1 and 2 and some other movie I cannot recall by name (no monster here). The cool thing about this movie is the use of 3D. I saw it because of it. Too many movies are coming out with 3D as an afterthought. 3D was the first thought on this movie.

Oddly, I say see it at the theater or skip it. The 3D experience is worth it. The 2D not so sure.

The Tourist

New review from The Movie Snob

The Tourist (C). I’d say my decision to wait for this movie to make it to the dollar cinema was a wise one. Angelina Jolie (Salt) plays Elise, a mysterious woman in Paris whose every move is being watched by an international team of police. She gets a mysterious message from a mysterious, unseen man, instructing her to take a train to Venice and pick out a stranger of the right height and build to make the police think the stranger is the mysterious, unseen man. The lucky stranger turns out to be Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp, Corpse Bride), an unassuming math teacher from Wisconsin. She chats him up, he’s enchanted, they reach Venice, and hijinks ensue because everyone thinks Frank is the mysterious, unseen Mr. X. It’s a hair too serious and violent to be a feel-good Romancing the Stone kind of movie, but it’s not serious enough to be a serious thriller. So it just kind of idles along without any real sense of urgency. But Venice is pretty, and if you like Jolie or Depp, that might be enough to carry the movie for you.

The Company Men

From the desk of The Movie Snob

The Company Men (B-). Lots of good actors signed up for this movie about three white-collar guys at a big company whose jobs are put at risk by The Great Recession. Ben Affleck (The Town) is the youngest guy, and the first to lose his job. He’s a cocky and successful salesman, so he sustains some serious psychic wounds when the job search doesn’t flip him into a new job right away. Chris Cooper (The Town) is an older guy who worked his way up from the factory floor, and Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), who’s so old and craggy he could play a Cardassian without any assistance from make-up, is a top exec who tries to but can’t stop the waves of lay-offs. The timely story is enough to keep your interest, but the movie as a whole never really gelled for me. Rosemary DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married), a solid and attractive actress I haven’t seen much of, plays Affleck’s wife, and Kevin Costner (Waterworld) has a small part as her very blue-collar brother.

Local Hero

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Local Hero (B). I saw this whimsical little 1983 release many years ago, but I couldn’t remember much about it. So I borrowed this copy from a friend and gave it a watch. I enjoyed it, but if you demand a lot of plot in your movies, you won’t get much out of it. A Texas oil company is developing an oil field in the North Sea, and its research men have decided the best course is to set up a terminal and refinery in the north of Scotland. One bay is uniquely suited for the company’s needs, so one of its top negotiators is dispatched to negotiate a price to buy out the entire village situated there. But before he can leave, the company’s eccentric CEO (played by Burt Lancaster, Atlantic City) also instructs him to watch the skies, especially in Virgo, apparently because he wants to be responsible for the discovery of a comet. That’s the set-up; there’s not much plot beyond the negotiator’s trip to Scotland and his dealings with the locals. The movie’s pace is leisurely; the pleasure is in the development of the various quirky characters, like the marine scientist named Marina who seems to be half mermaid, and the hearty Russian fisherman who drops into the movie about halfway through.

The Illusionist

From the desk of The Movie Snob

The Illusionist (B-). This French film is nominated for the Oscar for best animated film, so I decided I needed to see it. It didn’t blow me away. There is very little dialogue, and what little there is is either in a foreign language (without subtitles) or so garbled you can barely understand it. But you can easily enough get the gist of it through the admittedly lovely visuals. The year is 1959, and the protagonist is an older gentleman who is a professional magician who travels about France and England giving live performances. He makes a trip to remote Scotland for a performance, and a young woman working in the bar there decides to travel to the big city of Edinburgh with him. He buys her some nice things–obviously the first she has ever owned–but he is not all that well off himself, and it is plain that old-school entertainers like him are on the verge of being supplanted by television and rock-n-roll. So the movie has a nicely elegiac tone, but not a lot really happens, and I just needed a little more meat on the bones.

From Prada to Nada

A new movie review from The Movie Snob

From Prada to Nada (C-). So, what possessed me to see this obscure movie with a lowly 39 rating on Metacritic.com? The fact that it’s based on a Jane Austen novel, that’s what. It’s Sense and Sensibility, set in modern-day Los Angeles and done with a Hispanic flair. Unfortunately, the script and the acting just aren’t very good. It’s about two sisters, the studious law student Nora and her partying undergrad sister Mary. They live with their wealthy father in a mansion in Beverly Hills. But at the very beginning of the movie, their father dies, and it turns out he was secretly near bankruptcy, so the sisters have to move in with their aunt Aurelia in poor east L.A. In best Jane Austen fashion, they meet some hunky guys, and things kind of go from there. I didn’t recognize any of the actors involved except Adriana Barraza (Babel) played the aunt, and as I say, the acting wasn’t so hot. But the movie’s heart was in the right place, and I can’t deny that there was applause in the auditorium after it was over.

Vipers’ Tangle (book review)

A book review from The Movie Snob

Vipers’ Tangle, by Francois Mauriac (Loyola Classics 2005). Loyola Classics specializes in republishing classics of Catholic literature, such as this 1932 French novel. It is in the form of a journal by an older man named Louis. His health is declining, and he writes the journal as a sort of letter to his wife Isa. We soon learn that Louis is a bitter and unhappy man whose marriage was loveless almost from the start and who loathes his two children who survived into adulthood. Although exceedingly rich, he hates the thought of his wife and children inheriting his money. Generally atheistic in outlook, he is repulsed by the bourgeois and hypocritical Catholic piety of his family. And yet, for brief moments and on rare occasions, his dusty and miserly soul is dimly aware of the beauty of true Christianity. Can he escape the “vipers’ tangle” of hatred that his heart has become? I thought this was a pretty good read, but I would have appreciated a more insightful critical introduction than the few pages supplied with this volume.

The King’s Speech

A new review from The Movie Snob

The King’s Speech (A-). So much ink has already been spilled about this mega-Academy-Award nominee that I need not say much except that I too really enjoyed it a lot. Colin Firth (The Last Legion) turns in a terrific performance as the stuttering Duke of York who unexpectedly becomes King of England when his older brother abdicates. (But if you want to see a really remarkable performance, get a copy of The Last Legion and watch Firth try to convincingly portray an ancient Roman soldier!) Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End) also turns in fine work as the unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue.