Here’s an amateur’s critique of some recent movies.
THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS
This is one of those movies that will probably die at the box office. It’s not a thriller. No action to speak of. No major stars. Not even one “F” word. No wonder it’s doomed to be a flop.
Yet, it is one of the best movies of the year. That is if you appreciate great acting, a gripping story-line, and an historical perspective of the Nazi era from another viewpoint. Not since Life Is Beautiful have I been so taken in.
If you only enjoy movies that are light and lively, skip this one. You will have to be ready for a deep and powerful drama set in wartime Germany, as witnessed through the eyes of an eight-year-old boy named Bruno. The boy is the son of a commandant at a concentration camp whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the fence has unexpected consequences. While the movie moves slowly in places, you never lose contact with the struggle of this child all the way to an unpredictable ending. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is one of those rare movies that you still talk about the next day over breakfast.
Give this one a 9 ½
If you are an addict to the “F” word, and you enjoy herky-jerky, flashpoint camera work, with constant ( I mean constant) close-ups, you’ll enjoy this film. It is a powerful story about corruption in the NYPD, complete with good guys/bad guys, and very little in the way of surprises because it’s a worn-out plot. Yet, it is well acted by such luminaries as Colin Farrell, Ed Norton and Jon Voight. It may have received better ratings had it been directed by someone like Eastwood, Spielberg or Scorsese…all of whom would have eased up on the photographic eyestrain and stuck more to the story.
I’m no prude by any stretch, but when the “F” word is used two and three times in every sentence, for no reason, the dialogue morphs into Chinese water torture…you stop listening to the rest of the dialogue. I was a cop thirty years. We all did our share of cursing, but I never remember the constant drone of “F” over and over.
Good acting, good story, coulda been a good picture…but it’s not.
Score it 4 ½
Will probably be in the mix during the race for Oscar statuettes. At 78 years of age, Clint Eastwood is an inspiration, and a message that growing older is no excuse for growing less productive.
Say what you will about Angelina Jolie and all tabloid frenzy about her good looks, her kids, and her men, she emerges as a great actress in this picture and I suspect will be among the nominees for best actress.
Based on a true story, she plays the mother of a missing 9 year-old child in 1920s Los Angeles when the police act more as her adversary than her supporters. Corrupt cops and an egomaniacal police chief force Jolie into untenable situations, including an insane asylum, as she hunts for her kid. John Malkovich, one of today’s greats, plays the radio-talk show pastor who is eager to help Jolie and challenges the cops.
Directed by Eastwood, who is finding himself in the company of greats as a director, this picture is a sad but wonderfully told story that is sure to be noticed by the Academy Awards.
Give it a 9.
If you are a devout fundamentalist Christian, you will love this movie. If you are a person who does not fancy being evangelized, you will not love this movie.
Heroic fireman, played by Kirk Cameron, experiences marital difficulties. She complains about his lack of attention to home and her, he defends himself saying she doesn’t respect him. The marriage is on the rocks until he consults with his father, a born-again Christian who ultimately convinces his son to give his life to Jesus and God, and to stay the course. He resists at first, then succumbs to religion, and of course, God prevails and they all make up and live happily ever after.
Other than the male lead (Cameron) all the actors are amateur volunteers from the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. Cameron’s father is poorly played by an elder gentleman named Harris Malcom, who acts and sounds more like a country preacher than the father of a city fireman. There is no information to be found on Mr. Malcom.
This is a great film for folks who revel in religious retreats and think that all domestic problems can be resolved through divine intervention. For me, who has had my share of domestic intranquility and who knows many others with the similar history, it didn’t ring true. Far from it. And, when the unexpected proselytizing emerged, I felt deceived and duped into having bought movie tickets only to be sermonized.
A couple fire rescue scenes were well done, a saving “grace” for the movie from being a flat Zero.
For Fundamentalist Christians this would probably rate a 9. For non-fundamentalists, it would rate a 3.