December 29, 2015

Movie Review: Starwars - The Force Awakens **1/2

The Force Awakens is 2 hours and 16 minutes long, about two hours longer than necessary.
The beginning is hokey and overly-dramatic, an homage to the original, which is 30 years old, and it feels like it; the music, the slanted, scrolling text...old, old, old. I suppose that's what most people like about it. But those early minutes are a yawn; characters I didn't care about, nothing exceptional happening, not enough tension, excruciatingly slow. If you need a nap you can snooze through the first hour and you won't really miss anything.
The critics are going easy on this film, out of a sense of nostalgia, I think - certainly not for excellence in film making.
It's beautifully filmed, and Daisy Ridley's performance is excellent, and I loved Adam Driver as the evil Ren. It's fun seeing Harrison Ford in this role after all these years, and he looks great but his performance is unexceptional. Carrie Fisher can barely move her mouth after all the cosmetic surgery, so it's hard to watch her, and she really has nothing to do here. If she hadn't been in the original we'd have to wonder how this actor ever got hired.
My favorite line of the film: Han Solo sees Princess Leia (now a general) for the first time in years and says, "You changed your hair." Good one.
Mark Hamill has about 3 minutes in this film, and no lines, which is probably a good thing.
If you can stay awake for the first hour and a half, you'll probably enjoy the rest of the film.
Two and a half stars out of five for Starwars: The Force Awakens.

December 21, 2015

Movie Review: The Big Short ****1/2

Half the time I had no idea what the hell they were talking about in this film, even when Anthony Bourdain or Salena Gomez were explaining it (which is a very funny device), and so it made me feel pretty stupid. But I loved it anyway.
Steve Carrell is a really fine actor. And even though he received an Oscar nomination for his role in Foxcatcher, I think he hasn't gotten the recognition that is due him because he's done so much comedy. But his role in Foxcatcher was  the beginning of acknowledgement, and in The Big Short, as Mark Baum, you will see again what a natural actor he is. He is eminently believable and authentic.
Christian Bale is a little weird in his role. Too extreme, for my taste. I love Ryan Gosling (although I hate his dyed black hair), and all the guys who were Mark Baum's team. But who impresses me the most is a guy named Jeremy Strong. Terrific performance; subtle, real.
Go see The Big Short. Maybe you can explain it to me. But even if you can't I'm pretty sure you'll be glad you saw it.
Four and a half stars out of five for The Big Short.   

December 17, 2015

Movie Review: The Danish Girl **

There's much Oscar buzz about Eddie Redmayne's performance in The Danish Girl, and he's already received a Golden Globe nomination, but really, he's not all that good here - certainly no comparison to his performance last year as Steven Hawking in The Theory of Everything.
I was so bored by The Danish Girl. I couldn't count the number of times I looked at my watch. Everything you might want to know is in the trailer, so if you've seen that then save your money.
I didn't care about Einar Wegenar (Eddie Redmayne's character), altho I cared a lot about his wife; I empathized with and was engaged by Alicia Vikander's performance, which I found authentic. Eddie Redmayne, on the other hand, is not believable as a man in the 1930s who's caught in a woman's body. One day he puts on a dress and voila! he thinks he's a woman.
Nothing about the way this story is told rings true. All of Redmayne's emotion is conveyed through facial twitching and vamping; neither of which will win any awards. But that's just my humble opinion (watch him win another Oscar and prove me wrong).
Go see this film and let me know what you think.
Two stars out of five for The Danish Girl.