June 22, 2016

Movie Review: A Bigger Splash ***1/2

The acting is amazing in this film and the scenery is beautiful but it's a very strange story. Tilda Swinton barely speaks (her rock star character, Marianne, has had throat surgery) but she really doesn't need words, her face says everything.
Ralph Fiennes is Harry, a former boyfriend who shows up and ends up staying with Marianne and boyfriend Paul, the hunky Matthias Schoenaerts (you might not know his name but you know his face), and with Harry is a young woman they think is his protege but who is his daughter - the very sexy Dakota Johnson.
You can imagine what might happen with these four under one roof, but you might not imagine the ending.
Check it out.
Three and a half stars out of five for A Bigger Splash.

May 29, 2016

Movie Review: The Lobster ***1/2

I can't decide if I love The Lobster or hate it; it's creepy and gruesome and bizarre, but it's beautifully acted and directed, funny and romantic, and it's like nothing you've seen before.
This is a world where it's illegal to be single (good thing I don't live there) and people check in to a hotel where you must find a mate in 45 days, or be turned into an animal. David (Colin Farrell), arrives at the hotel with his brother Bob, who didn't find a mate and is now a dog.
There are lots of rules in this place (masturbation is strictly forbidden and is punished with a combination of a toaster and the offending hand) and lots of angst; after all, you only have 45 days to find The One. Even Match.com can't guarantee that.
When David isn't successful, he escapes to join The Loners, a renegade group of single people in the forest. This is where he meets his match, but romance is not allowed and has dire consequences.
And then there's the ending, which is even creepier than what we've seen so far, and possibly more romantic.
Three and a half stars out of 5 for The Lobster.

May 22, 2016

Movie Review: Money Monster ****

George Clooney is Lee Gates, an arrogant and self-centered financial guru with an over-the-top TV show,  and Julia Roberts is his producer.
I would have liked Clooney's character to be less of a buffoon in the beginning - he opens his show with an overabundance of shtick (crazy costumes and nerdy white-man dancing) - and I imagine he felt like an idiot filming those scenes, but that goofiness is easily forgotten when the hostage situation unfolds.
George and Julia really work - they have great on-screen chemistry. You can tell they really like each other, so they're easy to watch.
The story's a good one - we relate to the hijacker, an everyman who lost his life savings and wants someone held responsible; we relate to Clooney as he freaks out and panics and then finds some humanity; and we relate to Julia as she works to try to save the day for everyone.
It gets a little slow in the middle but all in all Money Monster is an engaging story; charming, funny, nail-biting, heartbreaking.
Four out of five stars for Money Monster.  

May 11, 2016

Movie Review: Sing Street *****

It's Dublin, it's the 1980s, the new kid in school gets bullied by schoolmates and tormented by the cruel priest. He meets a girl, forms a band to impress said girl, and gets retribution against all who harrassed him.
Is there anything new in this story? Not really. But Sing Street is a joyous film with wonderful performances, especially from Ferdia Walsh-Peelo who plays Conor, the main character.
This is a heartwarming underdog tale and it's not a secret that I love this genre, especially when the underdog is immensely likable and charming.
The best scene is early on, when he meets the girl (who, by the way, looks much too old for him) and asks her to be in his band's music video and when she says yes he turns away, crosses the street and says to his friend, "We have to form a band!"
Wonderful, feel-good movie.
Five out of five stars for Sing Street.

May 10, 2016

Movie Reviews - Mini-reviews

If you read my reviews and you generally disagree with me I have three new movies and a play for you:

The Family Fang **
Jason Bateman directed this and stars in it, and he's a favorite of mine (his performances are always effortless and understated) and so he was the best part of this goofy movie. Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken also give fine performances but I couldn't buy into the story line of parents who exploit their kids in crazy ways and call it "performance art" and are renowned because of it.
If you can buy the premise, you'll like this film.

The Meddler **
Susan Sarandon is The Meddler, quite the understatement. This is exactly the kind of writing I hate: a character who is so in-your-face, so broadly drawn, so annoying that they're hard to watch. Sarandon looks great, but she's still hard to watch.
Here's a woman who attends a baby shower she's not invited to, and later ends up planning and paying for an over-the-top wedding for a lesbian friend of her daughter's, whose last name she doesn't even know. Too stupid for me. Sweet romantic thread with JK Simmons, tho.

Maggie's Plan*
I decided, after watching this film, the third or fourth I've seen Greta Gerwig in, that I really don't care for her as an actor. There's something appealing about her looks and her manner but her acting seems very self-conscious, and distracted.
This is a crazy story that could have been called The Controller, or...The Meddler,  with weird, not believable happenings.
I saw an advance screening and it seems so rude to walk out on one of those, and besides, I was in the middle of a packed row...otherwise I would have.
Stupid.

Sender *
A play at The Red Orchid Theatre, Chicago
Four people screaming at each other and repeating lines, again and again and again. Effective device used sparingly, which it's not, in this play. "I'm sorry," was said by one character twelve times in a row. We get it already.
On the plus side there was some male nudity.

March 26, 2016

Me and Naked Anthony Bourdain

Sometimes people appear in my dream and I had no idea they were even in my head; people I haven't seen or talked to in years and years, famous people...
I've kept a dream journal since 2001 and I have to say, there is some weird shit in there...my mind is a very strange dwelling. Some of the famous people who've appeared are Michael Jordan, Al Pacino, Paul McCartney and the pope.
Last night my dream starred Anthony Bourdain, of all people. Why Anthony Bourdain? Undoubtedly that came from a book I've been reading called My Last Supper (thank you Mikki, for the early b'day present), where famous chefs answer questions about what their final meal would be, where, with whom, etc., and Bourdain is one of the chefs.
And there are pictures that accompany each spread - some normal, some funny, some bizarre... and here is Bourdain's.
Well!
The dream wasn't all that interesting (he wasn't naked) but he was very charming and very tall.
He started chatting me up as we waited in a line for something, and after a while I could see he was getting interested in me, which was amazing since I'd just come from the gym and my hair was a fright and I had on no makeup.
Every night there's a little adventure in my brain.

March 21, 2016

Movie Review: 'Tis the Season...

Oscar season is over, it's way too early in the year to release a film that might be a contender for next year's awards so what's being released now are the throwaways. If you're looking for a movie to see right now you should be aware: 'Tis The Season of Stupidity.

Two cases in point:

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, the Tina Fey vehicle. Immensely stupid. Tina Fey has an engaging screen presence no matter what she's doing but this film isn't worthy of a review. I couldn't sit for more than an hour of this.
0 stars


Hello, My Name is Doris, the Sally Field vehicle. Almost more stupid than Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot but I sat through it. If you can buy the concept that a sixty-something woman (even an adorable little woman like Sally Field) believes that a cute (not as hunky as the movie would have you believe) 30-something would be interested in her romantically, well...then maybe you'll like this. I couldn't and I didn't. Too stupid for me. I do love Sally Field and she does her best in the role but I couldn't get into the story at all. And I hated her clothes.
1 star

Meanwhile, some others I've seen recently:
Eddie the Eagle - A silly little movie that's over-directed in parts (mostly the downhill crash scenes, which no one could survive yet he just gets up and does it again), but sweet, too.
3-1/2 stars

Race - Well-done, well-written, well-acted, touching story.
4-1/2 stars

The Finest Hour - Melodramatic, crazy music, terrible direction.
2 stars