Genius

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Genius  (B).  This movie isn’t doing too well with the critics (current score of 56 over at metacritic.com) but I think they are somehow overlooking the fact that Nicole Kidman (Dead Calm) is in the movie.  Just kidding!  Anyhoo, perhaps my low expectations led me to enjoy it more than I otherwise would have.  It’s a biopic about editor Max Perkins (Colin Firth, The King’s Speech) and novelist Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow).  Back around the year 1929, Wolfe was a manic would-be writer out of North Carolina with a married mistress (played by Kidman), and Perkins was a buttoned-down family man with five daughters.  The movie basically just tells the story of their sometimes-difficult relationship as Perkins shaped Wolfe’s thousands of pages into manageable novels that met mainstream and critical success.  Other authors that Perkins edited also pop up, like a washed-up F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce, Memento) and a macho Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West, 300).  And the always-welcome Laura Linney (Mr. Holmes) has a small part as Mrs. Perkins.  I thought it wasn’t a bad movie.  It may have helped that I had actually read one of Wolfe’s novels, Look Homeward, Angel; you can read my review here and see if it sounds like your cup of tea.

Side Effects

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

Side Effects  (B).  The latest film from Steven Soderbergh (The Informant!) is an interesting and twisty little movie.  I can’t say too much about the plot because of its twistiness, but the set-up is this.  Emily (Rooney Mara, The Social Network) is a depressed young woman patiently awaiting the day her husband Martin (Channing Tatum, 21 Jump Street) will get out of prison for insider trading.  Martin gets out of prison, but Emily’s depression gets worse.  She comes under the care of Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law, Hugo), and they begin a trial-and-error search for an anti-depressant drug that will work for her.  That’s about as much as I can say without depriving you of the pleasure of seeing what happens next, and next, and then next after that.  It’s kind of a thriller, but a little too low-key for that label to be really accurate.  Catherine Zeta-Jones (Rock of Ages) also stars as a tightly wound psychiatrist from Emily’s past.  It’s much better than the 2005 film of the same name starring Katherine Heigl (Side Effects), that’s for sure!

Sherlock Holmes

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Sherlock Holmes (D+). Based on the reviews I had seen, I expected Sherlock Holmes to be mediocre–but I didn’t expect it to be this mediocre. As played by Robert Downey, Jr. (Tropic Thunder), the supersleuth is not only a genius at deduction but also a formidable practitioner of the martial arts. With Dr. Watson (Jude Law, The Holiday) in tow, Holmes investigates a bizarre case in which a hanged murderer has apparently risen from the grave and threatens to take over England with an army of the undead, or something like that. Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers) has very little to do as American con artist Irene Adler. Choppily-edited fight scenes and overwhelmingly brown and gray cinematography do not add to the enjoyment. Suffice to say, it wasn’t the best 2 hours and 15 minutes of my life.

The Holiday

DVD review from The Movie Snob

The Holiday (B). In my opinion, romantic comedy is very difficult to pull off, so The Holiday‘s “B” is a very good grade coming from me. Cameron Diaz (The Other Woman) plays Amanda, a hard-charging entrepreneur living in L.A. who is so emotionally repressed that she hasn’t cried since she was 15. Kate Winslet (All the King’s Men) is Iris, a British newspaper writer who is emotionally destroyed when the man she loves gets engaged to another woman. On the spur of the moment, the two find each other through a home-exchange website and decide to swap houses for the Christmas holiday. Diaz meets Graham (Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes); Winslet meets Miles (Jack Black, Bernie). Romantic-comedy hijinks ensue. I would pick some nits — at 2 hours and 18 minutes, it is way too long, and there are some draggy scenes that should have been trimmed. Although I believe that Jack Black is one of the comedic geniuses of our time, he is a fish out of water in this picture. Still, on the whole, I quite enjoyed it.

All the King’s Men

Movie review from The Movie Snob

All the King’s Men (C). Although this movie is based on my very favorite novel, I steered clear based on the drubbing it took from the critics (and at the box office). But my cousin just read the book and cajoled me into seeing the film at the dollar theater. Thanks to my very low expectations (and the low price), I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, but it still wasn’t very good. The story is a fictionalized account of the rise and fall of Louisiana demogogue Huey Long as seen through the eyes of one of his cronies, a disaffected journalist from a genteel background named Jack Burden. There were some casting errors; Jude Law (Genius) is too good-looking to play Jack, Kate Winslet (Finding Neverland) is all wrong as Jack’s childhood sweetheart Anne Stanton, and Patricia Clarkson (Cairo Time) is likewise wrong as political operative Sadie Burke. Sean Penn (The Interpreter) is not too bad as the Huey Long character, Willie Stark, but for some reason he delivers his political speeches as though he suffers from some serious neurological impairment, bobbing and ducking and weaving seemingly uncontrollably. Director Steven Zaillian (A Civil Action) tried to cram way too much of the book into the movie, so the action moves forward in a very jumpy fashion, leaving key events and motivations underexplained. Still, if you know the book well, you will be able to follow the movie easily and may even get some enjoyment out of it. Low expectations will also help.

AVP; Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

DVD reviews from Nick at Nite:

AVP

This movie combines two of the world’s greatest science-fiction franchises, the “no one can hear you scream in space” Alien series and the governator (Arnold and Jess Ventura) vehicle Predator, into one film. However, without Ripley and either of the governors this movie isn’t quite up to snuff. The Aliens are not very scary anymore and for God’s sake the Predator is not our friend. Apparently the difficulty of coming up with a new fifth story in the Alien series proved so difficult that the writers chose to go with no story at all. It has worked in other franchises, Superman IV, Star Trek V, The Karate Kid III, and The Godfather III, however, just because it worked for these great films did not mean it would work here. This movie stinks. I recommend it to no one. If you are into this kind of stuff go and buy the box set from the first Alien series and rent the first Predator movie, you will be much happier with the originals. I give this movie a “D.”

Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow

This is the only movie that Jude Law made last year that is worth seeing. I haven’t seen any of the other movies he made last year, but I am guessing they stink because based on the previews they were not action movies. This movie could have been called Sky Captain and The World of Not Ever Going to Happen But Still Looks Really Cool in a Movie. My guess is they chose the shorter title because it fits on the movie poster better. This is a visually stunning film. The 1940s futuristic robots, dirigibles, and rockets were very cool. I am still not sure what it was about because I could not divert my eyes from the next cgi effect. Needless to say, bad guys want to do in the world and it is up to Sky Captains from all over the planet to save the day. It is a little Indiana Jones at points. I really liked it. I give it a “A-.”

A Series of Unfortunate Events

A new review from Movie Man Mike:

A Series of Unfortunate Events. (B-) To begin with, the most unfortunate event was that I went to see this movie at the theater. It will be more enjoyable if you don’t pay full price for it. J.K. Rowling has nothing to fear from this little upstart of a film series. The cast of this movie was promising, with Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep, Jude Law, Dustin Hoffman, and an actor who looks suspiciously like John Cleese, but who is not credited as John Cleese. With the exception of Jude Law, who narrates, each of these actors plays intriguing and humorous characters. The story seemed to drag a little, which was surprising since it appears that the producers tried to fit 3 of the books into one movie. One thing missing from this film were some of the laughs. Most of the humor was mildly amusing. This movie might appeal more to children, but I personally would not recommend it for children because it’s a little dark given that it begins with the children learning that their parents were killed in a horrible fire. The rest of the film involves attempts to place the children with various relatives and the scheming of one relative, Count Olaf, to acquire the children’s inheritance even if it involves the killing of other relatives. The whole time I kept worrying about the impact of this film on my impressionable nieces and nephews. Leave the kids at home, and if you rent it, watch it after the kids have gone to bed.