Thursday, May 7, 2009

Movie Reviews In Briefs

The following are movies I saw for the first time during the last couple months, in the cutting-edge theater aboard my $60 million private jet, in my underwear, while doing my annual ten-month-long mansion-crawl:

[ratings are out of four stars]

Valentino: The Last Emperor
= 3.5 stars
Interesting fellow, colorful interviews, informative glance into a somewhat strange world, but a little one-note and without much of an arc.
Two simple ideas for improvement:
- maybe checking in with/interviewing his fleet of servants would have added some more flavor?
- interviewing Karl Lagerfeld and some other designers (Tom Ford? Ralph Lauren? Michael Kors?) for their take on the man paraded before us as a genius, but with little actual description of why he is so revered.

Observe & Report = 1 star
I love dark comedies, but they have to be funny. Aside from a few brief moments, this wasn't funny. AND the plot was weak and disjointed. Bummer. I hate to say it--but it is actually possible that this was the worst mall cop movie of this year's crop. I also hate that I now have to watch Paul Fart: Mall Cop to find out for sure...

Gomorrah = 2.5 stars
Disappointing. I really wanted to like it, since it's Italian and about a fascinating subject matter, but it just wasn't good enough. I didn't care about anybody in the movie--they were pretty much universal assholes or brainless schlubs. The ending was pretty great, really demonstrated the pointlessness of it all, but would have packed more of a punch if everything before it had made me care more. Ultimately, the movie was a great statement of the futility of organized crime, but not a very entertaining experience.

Elegy = 2 stars
Ben Kingsley's apartment was cool, Penelope Cruz was delectable, and I can relate to the blunt truth of the socio-sexual philosophy, but that's about all I really liked about this movie. The rest was...okay. Dennis Hopper was atrocious, with most of the blame shouldered by the writer--I get it! He's Ben Kingsley's confidante, maybe even his conscience, but that doesn't mean he is an interesting character. I was bored whenever he was onscreen and that is a perfect example of talent wasted. As in most older lover/younger lover scenarios, I found Kingsley/Cruz's relationship completely unbelievable (Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is a glaring exception) and, therefore, it is hard to invest anything in it--which ruins the entire purpose of the story.

W. = 2 stars
I enjoyed Karl Rove's smarminess and Dick Cheney's assholeness, but that's about it. I feel like--even though I'm sure his camp hates it--it was too soft on GeorgieBoy. He made the decisions and he needs to be held accountable for them; this movie was too sympathetic by simply shifting the blame to his devious subordinates. Oh--and the husband/wife subplot made me want to vomit.

Idiocracy = 3 stars
At times funny, at times painfully true (already), but ultimately brought down by poor acting, a cardboard plot, and many missed opportunities for bigger and better laughs (example: the opening Darwinian sequence).

Wall Street = 2 stars
What a disappointment! I've heard such good things over the years, but this did not measure up. Charlie Sheen is boring. Michael Douglas is good, but is character is pretty one-note and not all that interesting or deep--he certainly did not deserve an Oscar for the performance. The story plays out fairly predictably and the Martin Sheen blue-collar, down-home hokiness ultimately swallows this entire movie in the end. Bottom line: I know Oliver Stone is smarter than this movie. I understand why they are remaking this turd (timely=money!) but fail to see the need.
Addendum: If you are interested in seeing a fascinating take on stock trading, you should rent Antonioni's L'Eclisse instead.

Unrelated--how strange and...awesome? it that Netflix actually has the following category:


LiteralDan said...

But Ali: FEtS was about a younger man and older woman. Not Harold and Maude older, but still.

The older man/younger woman scenario is a whole different ballgame, with a lot more examples, believable and not.

Goodtime Charlie said...

I disagree--I think an older woman/younger man relationship is HARDER to believe.

What young man wants a wrinkly old prune of a woman?

And yet Fassbinder made that dynamic more believable than Hal Ashby did--and more believable than any examples of a more-easily-believable older man/younger woman scenario I can think of.