Reviews


Just imagine this shaped like an Oscar statuette. Wouldn't that be something?!

Imagine this shaped like an Oscar statuette. Wouldn’t that be something?!

Tonight’s the big show in L.A. where Hollywood honors its own, and while The Lint Screen doesn’t have a clue how the statues will be dealt, this is a quick round up of what we (I) liked.

Best picture: Philomena. A movie that’s got a great, true story with wonderful performances. Judi Dench can rip your heart out with one eye tied behind her back. It’s got heart, big heart. Close runner up: Wolf of Wall Street. Yeah, it shows greed, drugs, sex, overindulgent narcissistic pricks on parade. We’re talking Wall Street, dammit! The script by Terrence Winters is the best. Three action-packed hours with nary a wasted scene. Oh, and this Marty Scorsese fellow, well, let’s just say the guy’s got a future in film.

Also in the top tier: Nebraska. Bruce Dern and Will Forte bring a colorful strained family relationship to life in this black and white beauty. A damn fine film.

Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey and Leto are probably locks for Oscars, and they deserve it. This is a moving movie made sadder by the fact that it’s mostly true.

Inside Llewyn Davis. Hollywood and the public didn’t give this flick much love, but it’s a rich story of the struggles of the artistic journey. Think art sells itself? Think again. The Coen brothers once again deliver the goods, and T. Bone will have your toes a-tapping.

American Hustle. Yes, the performance are a feast. A fun film that’s confusing at times, and a satisfying ride. But when it’s all over, well, there you are. A must see, but not one for the ages.

Here is a drive by of other major films.

Captain Phillips is gripping and Hanks and Barkhad Abdi own their slabs of silver screen. But the Cappy’s backstory feels forced. And we all know the ending. Good film, but not great.

Gravity is an incredible film for technical whizbangery, and the acting’s fine, but the dialogue and the story are pretty thin. (Probably also not a good idea to see this film with a N.A.S.A. engineer, like I did, who explained all the logic and physics flaws.)

Her is a film that I liked quite a bit. Actually, I like the idea of the film better than the film itself. It makes some very good points, societal commentary while you wait, but it’s somewhat labored and repetitive after awhile. It is frightening to see our future with Sans-a-belt slacks up to our bellybuttons. Still, this is a movie worth watching for the ideas and performances.

Oh, how I wanted to love 12 Years a Slave. If ever there was a subject more ripe for moving one emotionally, this was it. But, the movie missed. Again, it’s a very good film, but not a great one. A pity. Something was off.

Saving Mr. Banks was surprisingly good. Emma Thompson is terrific, and the story is engaging, entertaining and compelling. Hanks as Disney is fun, too. Give it a go.

Ron Howard’s Rush is also a film to seek out. A very interesting true story about Formula 1 racing in the 1970’s is a wild ride. It’s well-told, well-acted, well-shot. Well, see it already!

And then there’s Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, a film that’s fun with a character who is hard to take. A good flick.

I also liked Lee Daniels’ The Butler, well worth renting for Forest Whitaker’s performance and lots of fine cameos. Interesting tale and true. Plus Oprah, who never once asks us to look beneath our seats.

That’s it. A pretty great year for film. Now, let’s see what the industry recognizes.

He's scary good.

He’s scary good.

Matthew McConaughey used to be cast as eye candy, a guy who’d remove his shirt and let his chest do the talking. Now, he may be the most interesting actor working the screens.

In recent years, McConaughey has built an incredible body of work by selecting interesting roles of complex characters. From The Lincoln Lawyer, to Killer Joe, to Mud, to Dallas Buyers Club to HBO’s True Detective, he has portrayed disturbed characters with pasts that make living in the present a challenge and facing the future a chore.

He acts completely with face, eyes, body posture and voice–– a rich baritone stewed in bourbon, cigarettes, Texas heat and filtered through regrets, lost bets and tortured existence. He makes every line he speaks a self-contained story, and milks the silences as he contemplates and reveals glimpses of a wounded soul.

Matthew McConaughey has become the real deal, an actor worth watching no matter what role he’s assuming because we know he will plumb depths of the human condition to explore and expose what it means to live.

Matthew McConaughey may be the American Daniel Day Lewis.

Not your ordinary road trip movie.

Not your ordinary road trip movie.

I gave Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa my virgin eyes. Yes, it’s true–– I’d never been on the Jackass bus before. What can I say, I’m not an intellectual.

Well, I had great expectations for this movie and it was an enjoyable enough ride. Some good laughs, nice cringe moments and awkwardness abounds.

But what hurt the film was the story’s linear structure: the conceit of a narrative storyline of Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) taking his eight year-old grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll) on a car ride from Nebraska to Raleigh so that the kid’s deadbeat dad can get the bounty of $600/month government dole.

Yes, Knoxville and Nicoll can act and have great chemistry, but why have the artifice of them not knowing they’re both shills to unsuspecting bystanders and playing their characters in character against one another? It didn’t make any sense. Were they trying for poignant emotion in a movie where scrotal humor plays large?

Having this artificial narrative played straight seemed odd. Perhaps the Jackass crew should consider the eternal wisdom of Conan O’Brien who keeps the following advice posted in his office: “Funny man, be funny.”

Oh well, the movie’s making big bucks at the box office, so I’ll just keep my big gob shut.

Ron Howard delivers the goods in Rush

Ron Howard delivers the goods in Rush

Rush is one of the best movies of the year with one of the worst titles.

No, it doesn’t have Tom Hanks-type big stars in the leading roles (Daniel Brühl and Chris Hemsworth aren’t exactly box office draws), but damn if this isn’t one fine film.

Directed by Ron Howard (you may know him better as Opie Taylor or Richie Cunningham), Rush is the true story of the 1970’s Formula 1 rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Hunt (Hemsworth) is the dashing playboy British driver and Lauda (Brühl) is the austere Austrian obsessed with engineering and winning. The story, acting and filmmaking are superb.

Get in your car and drive like hell to the theatre and see this movie. It’s not getting its due at the box office and will be slipping off big screens soon.

Go fast, go big, go now.

Oh, Rachel, have you stripped in vain?

Oh, Rachel, what will Ross think?

If you’ve seen the trailer for We’re The Millers, you’ve seen the best bits. There’s a couple more laughs in the full-length film, but not many. Which is a damn shame because the trailer is pretty funny, but it’s only a couple minutes long. The movie runs a flabby 110 minutes.

This movie’s loaded with comedic talent: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Nick Offerman, Will Poulter, Ed Helm, Kathryn Hahn, Ken Marino and on and on. But, it suffers the curse of a meandering script by four writers.

Siskel & Ebert stated that more than two writers is usually a warning sign–– and I believe they nailed it. The script doesn’t live up to the talent or its full potential. Yet, we’re so starved for laughs, it’ll do good business and probably encourage a sequel:
I Said, ‘We’re The Millers
or We’re The Millers, Again.

It’s Millers’ Time?

It’s just too bad this particular movie isn’t better. I suspect that Ross, Chandler, Phoebe, Joey and Monica would have expected more for Rachel to prance about in her lacy things.

"Trick or treat!" Johnny Depp's an Indian this year.

“Trick or treat!” Johnny Depp’s an Indian this year.

Yes, I subjected myself to The Lone Ranger. Why? I didn’t think it could be as bad as it is. Stupid me.

Weighing in at two-and-a-half hours and a $250 million cost, it’s a mess of a movie. This outing, Johnny Depp gets to dress up like an Indian (he’s done vampire, pirate, Willie Wonka, etc., he’s running out of costume ideas). Depp is Tonto and his side kick is Armie Hammer playing The Lone Ranger.

There’s a story in here about good guys and bad guys and a railroad and lots of horse chases and runaway trains and people running and fighting and riding horses on top of trains and big explosions and well, you get the drift. It’s ACTION ADVENTURE!

And it’s a yawn.

Director Gore Verbinski (he of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) has extras chewing up scenery as he tries to amp it up to 11, but the movie just kind of lays there. Not even the William Tell Overture can save the day.

That said, it’ll probably be a huge blockbuster with sequels and a major attraction soon to come to Disney properties.

Woe is me.

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