The Movie Snob is disappointed.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (D). I love Jane Austen and I am pretty fond of zombies, so this seemed like a can’t-miss proposition: Take the characters, setting, and basic plot of Pride & Prejudice, add a liberal helping of brain-hungry undead, and mix well. I was unfamiliar with most of the cast, but I thought having lovely Lily James (Cinderella) play Elizabeth Bennet and an eye-patched Lena Headey (300) play Lady Catherine de Bourgh could only help the cause. I was right, but unfortunately the ladies’ charms can’t rescue this murky, mucky production. The scenes that are lifted more or less intact from the novel are all right, although I found Darcy (Sam Riley, Maleficent) underwhelming. The zombie scenes are uniformly a mess of quick cuts and unintelligible action. The additional plotline involving the zombies made no sense to me. I say skip it. If you’re craving love in the time of zombies, check out Warm Bodies instead.
A new review from The Movie Snob.
Forsaken (B). Well, I’ll be gob-smacked! It’s only February, and this is the second brand-new Western I have seen this year! Anyhoo, this movie seems very reminiscent of Shane. John Henry Clayton (Kiefer Sutherland, Pompeii) comes riding back into his old home town some years after the end of the Civil War. His dear old maw has passed away, and his pacifist preacher dad (Donald Sutherland, The Hunger Games) is none too proud of the famous gunslinger his son has become since the War. Their reunion is rocky, to say the least. Meanwhile, a mean old rattlesnake named McCurdy (Brian Cox, Troy) is buying up local farms in advance of the railroad’s arrival, and farmers who won’t sell out to McCurdy often come down with a bad case of lead poisoning, if you get my meaning. John Henry could be just the man to even out the playing field, but unfortunately for the farmers, he’s trying to put his old ways aside in order to please his paw. Michael Wincott (The Doors) almost steals the show as McCurdy’s top gunslinger, Gentleman Dave. Oh, and Demi Moore (Mortal Thoughts) has a couple of scenes as John Henry’s old sweetie from before the War. It’s not the most original story line, but I still enjoyed it.
A book review from the desk of The Movie Snob.
The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy (1961). I read this novel years ago, and I remember I liked it OK. Then a friend of mine recently mentioned it to me, and I rediscovered it in my library, so I thought I would give it a re-read. It’s not bad, but I can’t say I really connected with it. I couldn’t relate to the first-person narrator of the tale, Binx Bolling, and that always hurts my enjoyment of a book. Binx is an aimless fellow on the edge of thirty, skeptical about everything and unable to commit to anything—except to going to movies and falling in love with his secretaries. He has a step-cousin, Kate, who is an even bigger mess than he is. This is the story of just about a week in their closely intertwined lives. Although The Moviegoer won the National Book Award the year it was published, I can’t say I loved it. I do remember liking the other Walker Percy novel I have read, Love in the Ruins, quite a bit more, though.
New from The Movie Snob.
How to Be Single (F). Time is running out!!! I don’t mean time is running out to see this movie; unfortunately it’ll be in the theaters a few more weeks before shuffling off, unloved and unmissed, into the movie half-life of DVDs and streaming. I mean that time is running out for cute Alison Brie (The Five-Year Engagement) to get her movie career going! Her recent vehicle Sleeping with Other People was horrendous, and her small fourth-wheel role in this stinker will do her no favors either.
Anyhoo, this is a terrible movie about “relationships.” It reminded me a little of He’s Just Not That Into You, another terrible movie about relationships, only this one was terrible right from the get-go. Alice (Dakota Johnson, The Five-Year Engagement) is a bland college grad who “takes a break” from her boyfriend and finds herself floundering around, socially speaking, in NYC. Her older sister Meg (Leslie Mann, The Other Woman) is an obstetrician who has apparently never looked closely at a baby before because as soon as she does, she wants one. Alice’s friend Robin is played by Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) acting like Rebel Wilson always does. And Alison Brie’s character, Lucy, doesn’t seem to know any of the other three and thus seems to be in a separate (very short) movie all her own. The characters are generally crass and always unbelievable, and toward the end (which is way too far away from the beginning) annoying pseudo-profundities about “being single” start dropping like anvils. If you want an R-rated romantic comedy, skip this movie and look up Drinking Buddies or rewatch Bridesmaids instead.
New from the desk of The Movie Snob.
Hail, Caesar! (B-). With the glaring and painful exception of Barton Fink, I have yet to see a Coen brothers movie I didn’t like. (Granted, I haven’t seen them all.) True Grit, The Big Lebowski, and O Brother Where Art Thou? are all classics in my book. Their current release has its pleasures, but I think it is definitely a lesser entry in the Coen canon. It’s a pure comedy and a tribute to the movies of the 1940s and 1950s. (Apparently there are a gazillion references to movies and Hollywood scandals of that era. They went over my head, but I think I did catch an homage to Fargo.) Josh Brolin (Sicario) stars as Eddie Mannix, a honcho for Capital Studios who is pulled in a million directions at once as he tries to keep his movies and his movie stars out of trouble. George Clooney (Intolerable Cruelty) costars as Baird Whitlock, a matinee idol who is supposed to be starring in a big Ben Hur-like production but who has been kidnaped by a mysterious group called The Future. And there are scads of other stars on hand, including Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as a fey director of costume dramas, Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation) as a pregnant movie star in a mermaid suit, and Channing Tatum (She’s the Man) as the star of a South Pacific-like musical. I enjoyed the energy of the picture, but it didn’t really seem to add up to much—except maybe to say gee, isn’t show biz crazy?
A book review from The Movie Snob.
Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer, by Una LaMarche (2015). This is a collection of short humorous essays by a gal who was born in 1980. There are stories about her upbringing by hippie parents, her awkwardness in childhood, and her later adventures in driving, drinking, and having a baby. And yes, as a child, she had a unibrow, displayed in its full glory in the cover photo showing the author as an extremely happy-looking child. The author uses way too much vulgar language, but I must admit that I laughed out loud a few times while reading this book, so that makes up for a lot as far as I’m concerned.
A new review from The Movie Snob.
Jane Got a Gun (B-). No, this isn’t a movie based on the 1989 Aerosmith tune. It’s an even more unlikely concoction—a Western starring Natalie Portman (Closer) as the heroine and Ewan McGregor (Down With Love) as the bad guy. Truly, I expected it to be terrible, like the recent Western Sweetwater. But instead it turned out to be not half bad, like the recent Western The Homesman. The set-up is nicely formulaic: Natalie’s husband comes riding up to their dusty New Mexico homestead all shot up, and he barely has the strength to warn her that the Bishop Boys are coming. So Natalie has to convince a surly neighbor with whom she has a past to help her fight off the evil varmints that are riding her way and will probably arrive around High Noon. The numerous flashbacks that fill us in on the backstory kind of bog the movie down, but eventually the movie picks up steam and gives us the shoot-em-up we’ve been waiting for. Worth a look, if you like oaters.