Movie Reviews 2

 

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
It’s a comedy. It’s a drama. It’s a romance story. Actually, it’s all three.

Remember Javier Bardem, who won the Oscar for his portrayal of the psychotic killer in “No Country For Old Men?” Imagine him with a haircut, walking up to two beautiful American women in a Barcelona restaurant who he never met before, and politely asking — with his Spanish accent — if they’d like to join him for a weekend where they could have fun and make love.

That sets the stage for one hour and 36 minutes of a fabulous movie about damaged relationships, unpretentious love and people daring to take chances. I generally don’t care for empty-headed “chick flicks,” but trust me, this one doesn’t fit that category. It’s sure to flop at the box office, which means it’s of no interest to the youth audiences. But it is of interest to serious movie goers who still seek that rarely made attention-grabber, rife with great acting and interesting twists in a story that passes the time quickly because you stay so engrossed.

For the guys, it’s about Scarlett Johansson, Patricia Clarkson and Penelope Cruz, each playing crisply different characters, each beautiful, each gifted actors.

For the ladies, it’s about Bardem, his charm and his unabashed admiration for the opposite sex.

For movie lovers, it’s about fun, entertainment and good acting.

Do take the time to see “Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona.” It has three down sides.

1 – Directed by Woody Allen, not my favorite, but he excels in this one.

2 – The title is a loser. Surely, Woody could have done better.

3 – It only scored $3.7 million in the first week-end out. But don’t let that sway you. The best movies are not always best at the box office.

Rating: 8 ½

The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emporer

 Stay home. Don’t rent it when it comes out, unless it’s for your ten-year-old kid.

It’s an overdose of graphics ad nauseam, shallow plot, the usual chases and crashes where the protagonist never gets hurt, but he kills everyone else. Surely, Hollywood can think of something more original. Brendan Fraser may be locked into a stereo-typical character that he may never shed, especially after the previous “Mummy” pictures, and “Journey To The Center Of The Earth” (which wasn’t so bad.) It’s time to put the Mummy to rest.

We walked out after 45 minutes.

Rating: 2

 The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2 

We walked out of this one too.

Did I mention “chick flick” earlier? This picture was made with one audience in mind: teenage and young adult women who have no interest in quality art.

Four friends go their separate ways in various parts of the world then meet up to share their experiences. Sounds good. It’s not.

The four primary actresses, all of whom have made many movies, have a got a lot more to learn before they will ever see an Oscar nomination. The directing shares equal blame.

Pretentious, staged, stilted, implausible, shallow, are several adjectives that come to mind, not to mention the absence of any chemistry between the girls and the men actors.

To be fair, some critics gave this picture good reviews, which is one of the reasons we went to see it. Perhaps it’s time for the reviewers to be reviewed.

Rating: 2

MAMA MIA

If you enjoy musicals and pure entertainment without a heavy plot, be sure to see “Mama Mia,” the movie version of the hit Broadway play. Twas refreshing, for once, to sit through a picture with seeing cars smashing, bullets flying, buildings destroyed, blood gushing and sex oozing.

The story line is simple enough. Raised on a Greek island by a formerly rebellious mom who never disclosed the identity of her father, a bride-to-be locates three men who might be her father and invites them to her wedding.

The draw, of course, is the versatile talents of singing, dancing, acting Meryl Streep who seemingly is incapable of a poor performance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her with another Golden Globe, or even an Oscar for this one.

Twenty-two year-old Amanda Seyfried is delightful as the young bride-to-be, full of life, fun, energy and a voice to go with it. She’s bound to go far in the movie world.

Next best, were the lady buddies of Streep’s character (Mama), played by Julie Walters and Christine Baranski…you’ll recognize them when you see them.

Two of the three possible dads were funny, believable and engaging in their roles, though they are relatively unknowns. (Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard). Then comes the miscasting of Pierce Brosnan who was utterly awkward and stiff trying to play a loose character out of Streep’s past, not to mention his second-rate singing voice. Casting Brosnan in this role would be like casting Charles Laughton as The Lone Ranger. Obviously, the producers were pandering for star power when they selected the former James Bond, but it detracted from an otherwise good movie.

The story line could well have eliminated the one quasi-gay scene which added nothing, and… like Brosnan’s inane performance, presented more of a distraction.

But…it’s an enjoyable musical ride, not of the same quality of “Chicago” and other past musical greats.

I give it 6 ½ out of 10.

 

 

 

Movie Critique: “88 Minutes”

Seeing as I’ve been an avid movie fan and lover of music since my crawling days in the crib, I thought I’d add a lighter side to my blog site. I’d be happy to hear what readers have to say.

If it weren’t for the presence of mega star and fine actor, Al Pacino, 88 Minutes would probably make most of it’s money being sold at Wal-mart in one of the $1 bins.

Good movies are tough to find these days, as the motion picture market caters mainly to children and young adults which feature gore, extreme violence, terror, plethora of smashed cars and buildings, million-bullet shoot-em-ups, raw sex, garbage humor and animated stories. Such is where the money is. Once in a while, a fine drama emerges, wins an Academy Award, then flops at the box office.

The problem with 88 Minutes is not action, drama or suspense. It has plenty of that. It’s the sheer absence of plausibility to the point of being absurd.

In a nutshell: Al Pacino is a Forensic psychiatrist whose testimony helped put a sadistic killer on Death Row nine years earlier. Naturally, the killer professes his innocence as his date with death nears. Suddenly new murders begin to emerge throughout the city using the same modus operandi; young women hoisted upside down, raped, tortured and then killed. Pacino is brought into the scene immediately by the FBI to help investigate. That’s when he receives a phone threat by a garbled voice telling him, he has 88 minutes to live.

From there, Pacino runs around in a panic as a number of other women are found killed, including his girl friend, and gives orders to police, FBI and other resource agencies to check this and that. The suspense comes, trying to figure out if the guy in prison is actually innocent, and who is behind the new onslaught of murders. The FBI begins to think Pacino, himself, may be the guilty party.

Sure, I was a thirty-year cop and I tend to see the flaws in a police-thriller movie. But I’m also a fiction writer, and I can live with a few non-sensible coincidences and some unlikely scenes, because folks…it’s fiction. But not this.

First, In my sixteen years working murder cases in Miami, I know of no detectives that ever consulted with a forensic psychiatrist during a murder case, yet work side by side with him in the streets. It just doesn’t happen. Lawyers may use them at trial, usually the defense type, for their expert opinion. Second, if and when a private psychiatrist is involved in an investigation, he certainly is not privileged to bark orders at police supervisors as though he were in command of the field. Third, other than crimes that cross state lines or where the murder occurred on federal property, the FBI is not in charge of any city/county murder case. They are handled by the local police agencies. So, why is the FBI there at all? (Head shaking)

But this is the kicker. Nine years earlier, the first victim is found hanging as her twin sister abruptly stumbles on the killing scene. Ah, a witness. She tells the police that the room was dark, and she didn’t get a good look at the subject. In legal terms, that usually means: No I.D.

As it turns out, the evidence upon which this man was convicted, was — of all things — the twin sister’s identification (who didn’t get a good look him in the dark) and,(get this) the expert opinion of the psychiatrist who said he was positive this guy did the killing, though he had no other evidence other than a personality profile. Well, that’s pushing it. If any defendant was put on trial based on personality profiles and poor visibility identifications, he’d be freed on a directed verdict by the judge in a New York minute.

There were other stupidities in the picture, but I think you get the idea.

So, friends, if you just want some suspenseful entertainment that makes no sense, but you’re an addict for Al Pacino’s acting, go for it. If you still seek a smidgen of authenticity in a police story, don’t waste your money on 88 Minutes.

Movie Critique: "88 Minutes"

Seeing as I’ve been an avid movie fan and lover of music since my crawling days in the crib, I thought I’d add a lighter side to my blog site. I’d be happy to hear what readers have to say.
If it weren’t for the presence of mega star and fine actor, Al Pacino, 88 Minutes would probably make most of it’s money being sold at Wal-mart in one of the $1 bins.
Good movies are tough to find these days, as the motion picture market caters mainly to children and young adults which feature gore, extreme violence, terror, plethora of smashed cars and buildings, million-bullet shoot-em-ups, raw sex, garbage humor and animated stories. Such is where the money is. Once in a while, a fine drama emerges, wins an Academy Award, then flops at the box office.
The problem with 88 Minutes is not action, drama or suspense. It has plenty of that. It’s the sheer absence of plausibility to the point of being absurd.
In a nutshell: Al Pacino is a Forensic psychiatrist whose testimony helped put a sadistic killer on Death Row nine years earlier. Naturally, the killer professes his innocence as his date with death nears. Suddenly new murders begin to emerge throughout the city using the same modus operandi; young women hoisted upside down, raped, tortured and then killed. Pacino is brought into the scene immediately by the FBI to help investigate. That’s when he receives a phone threat by a garbled voice telling him, he has 88 minutes to live.
From there, Pacino runs around in a panic as a number of other women are found killed, including his girl friend, and gives orders to police, FBI and other resource agencies to check this and that. The suspense comes, trying to figure out if the guy in prison is actually innocent, and who is behind the new onslaught of murders. The FBI begins to think Pacino, himself, may be the guilty party.
Sure, I was a thirty-year cop and I tend to see the flaws in a police-thriller movie. But I’m also a fiction writer, and I can live with a few non-sensible coincidences and some unlikely scenes, because folks…it’s fiction. But not this.
First, In my sixteen years working murder cases in Miami, I know of no detectives that ever consulted with a forensic psychiatrist during a murder case, yet work side by side with him in the streets. It just doesn’t happen. Lawyers may use them at trial, usually the defense type, for their expert opinion. Second, if and when a private psychiatrist is involved in an investigation, he certainly is not privileged to bark orders at police supervisors as though he were in command of the field. Third, other than crimes that cross state lines or where the murder occurred on federal property, the FBI is not in charge of any city/county murder case. They are handled by the local police agencies. So, why is the FBI there at all? (Head shaking)
But this is the kicker. Nine years earlier, the first victim is found hanging as her twin sister abruptly stumbles on the killing scene. Ah, a witness. She tells the police that the room was dark, and she didn’t get a good look at the subject. In legal terms, that usually means: No I.D.
As it turns out, the evidence upon which this man was convicted, was — of all things — the twin sister’s identification (who didn’t get a good look him in the dark) and,(get this) the expert opinion of the psychiatrist who said he was positive this guy did the killing, though he had no other evidence other than a personality profile. Well, that’s pushing it. If any defendant was put on trial based on personality profiles and poor visibility identifications, he’d be freed on a directed verdict by the judge in a New York minute.
There were other stupidities in the picture, but I think you get the idea.
So, friends, if you just want some suspenseful entertainment that makes no sense, but you’re an addict for Al Pacino’s acting, go for it. If you still seek a smidgen of authenticity in a police story, don’t waste your money on 88 Minutes.