The Beguiled

New review from The Movie Snob.

The Beguiled  (B-).  Director Sofia Coppola is back with another quiet, moody little flick (see, e.g., Lost in Translation, Somewhere).  The divine Nicole Kidman (Dead Calm) stars as Miss Martha, the headmistress of a girls’ boarding school in 1864 Virginia.  (For all my Millennial readers out there, 1864 was during the Civil War.)  Most of her students are gone, but a few are still stranded there, along with one lonely teacher, Miss Edwina (Kirsten Dunst, Wimbledon).  The ladies are getting by, but everything changes when one of the younger students goes out to gather mushrooms and returns with Corporal McBurney, a handsome Union soldier (Colin Farrell, The Lobster) with a nasty leg wound.  The ladies’ fascination with the Irishman easily overrides their initial impulse to alert the Confederate authorities, and soon they are all vying for his attention—especially the oldest student, Alicia (Elle Fanning, Super 8).  And McBurney quickly figures out the school could be a nice refuge from the rest of the war if he plays his cards right.  But can he manage the ladies’ rivalries and his own building passion?

The movie held my interest, thanks mainly to nice performances from all involved—even the younger actresses get a few scenes in which to shine.  But the plot is rather slight, there are maybe a few too many languid shots of the stately plantation house and the surrounding forest, and I wasn’t convinced by one of the character’s behavior at the end.  Still, it was nice to see the luminous Ms. Kidman in a movie that wasn’t terrible.  And at 93 minutes, the movie doesn’t overstay its welcome.  Finally, I learned in some long ago trivia game that Elvis Presley’s hit song “Love Me Tender” is written to the melody of a Civil War era song called “Aura Lee.”  I had never heard “Aura Lee” before, but I’ll be danged if one of the characters in this movie doesn’t sing a bit of it.  Nice.

Advertisements

Midnight Special

New from the desk of The Movie Snob.

Midnight Special  (B).  Jeff Nichols, the writer/director of the very good film Mud, is back with a science-fiction/action/suspense movie starring Michael Shannon (Man of Steel), Joel Edgerton (Jane Got a Gun), and Kirsten Dunst (Elizabethtown).  We join the action already in progress—there’s an Amber Alert out in west Texas for an abducted eight-year-old boy named Alton (Jaeden Lieberher, St. Vincent).  We quickly figure out that he has been abducted by his dad Roy (Shannon) and Roy’s friend Lucas (Edgerton).  And we don’t mind so much, because apparently Roy and Lucas abducted Alton from a weird religious cult, and they want him back—bad.  The federal government, personified by Kylo Ren himself (Adam Driver, Star Wars: Episode VII), also has a keen interest in the lad.  What’s up with the boy?  Why does he wear goggles most of the time, and big ear protectors when he sleeps?  And why is everybody after him?  Although the movie felt a little derivative, especially of one other movie that shall remain nameless, I still enjoyed it.

Spider-Man 3 – take two

From The Movie Snob

Spider-Man 3 (B-). I don’t have too much to add to Mike’s analysis. This movie is pretty much more of the same — too much more, at 2 hours and twenty minutes in length. It’s just too long. And after seeing Spidey get slammed through walls and into steel girders for the 20th time, I started to think come on, he’s not Superman for crying out loud. And I go back and forth on whether Kirsten Dunst (Midnight Special) is actually attractive or not; this movie had me more in the “not” category. Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) was much more fetching. But you be the judge.