Movie Critique: April ’09

 

Discriminating buffs who enjoy the best of motion pictures are entering into a time of the year when movie junk is in the theaters, mainly to attract teen and young adult audiences. But, we have seen a few gems within the mix, and some not so gemmy.

Here’s a few ratings:

The Soloist – 8 ½

Sunshine Cleaning – 7

Elegy – 8

Knowing – 5

“The Soloist”

Best picture so far in the 2009 season. Based on true events, the story focuses on two people; A homeless derelict (Jamie Foxx) whose early life included the Juliard school as a classical cellist, and a L.A. Times reporter (Robert Downey Jr.) who discovered and befriended him. Some folks will see this simply as a genius who fell into hard times when, in fact, it’s about the ravages of mental illness. Both men give Oscar worthy performances as the depth and versatility of each is nothing short of amazing. Foxx has won an Oscar for his betrayal of Ray Charles in “Ray”and has played in a number of other complicated roles since. Downey is to be admired, not only for his acting, but for having what it takes to pick himself up from the pits of drug addiction, and head forward into many outstanding accomplishments.

My only criticism is borne of my own musical (violin) eagle-eye, one which the average viewer may not have caught. While Foxx did an admirable job of portraying a cellist, the technical downside glared through as he did not hold the instrument nor bow correctly, nor was there any vibrato as the fingers lay gently…not firmly…upon the strings. But..that’s being picky.

If you enjoy a good drama, this a very good film.

“Sunshine Cleaning”

A sleeper. We had not expected much from this picture, other than a reason to kill a couple of relaxing hours. This is about blue collar America, basic family dispute, tragedy, struggle and love…lots of love, disguised as anger and frustration. Amy Adams plays a single mom who works as a maid, and then with her hippie sister running a cleaning operation that handles ugly, stinky crime scenes. In no time, the girls are up to their necks in murders, suicides and other death cases which spins off into a number of zany, and sometimes tragic events.

Alan Arkin plays Amy’s dad, and grandfather of the little boy who he cares for when mom is at work. A very heart-warming, and down-to-earth story, well acted, that surprisingly holds your attention.

“Elegy”

Released in August of 2008, this picture was apparently a box office flop, but it looked interesting when we perused through Blockbuster’s last week and gave it a try. Glad we did. Not only because it offers Penelope Cruz in a completely uninhibited, topless scene, the acting of Ben Kingsley and her should have made Hollywood headlines. They are magnificent in their roles as unlikely lovers, he a 60ish playboy college professor and she, a student who is set apart from anyone he has ever known. Director Isabel Coixet, draws the best from Cruz and Kingsley as the viewer remains glued to the story from beginning to end. Worthwhile, if you appreciate good drama.

“Knowing”

We saw this a few weeks ago. Nicolas Cage stars as (what else) a college professor who investigates the past deeds of a child who seemed to have supernatural powers, able to predict disasters. Not a bad film, but not great. The acting was not even close to the caliber of Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis in “Sixth Sense,” which this picture seemed to emulate.

Your thoughts?