Saturday, August 27, 2011

Brighten Rock: Noir, Noirer, Noirish

"Brighten Rock" is film noir at its darkest, but also happens to be about the brightest of subjects: miracles. Based on a Graham Greene novel about a small time hood who's a big time psychopath, the movie moves the timetable from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Leonardo DiCaprio lookalike Sean Riley is the gangster whose involvement with Rose, (Andea Riseborough), a teen-aged witness to his crime, serves as the heart of the unsettling plot.
Everyone but the naive Rose is out for themselves in this story and that includes the hard-bitten owner of the tea shop (Helen Mirren) where she works.
"Brighten Rock" is not a great movie. What kept the Movie Slut on the edge of her seat was her concern for Rose, who hobbled, sometimes literally, on the edge of a rocky cliff.
Supposedly the end of the movie is a departure from the book but the MS thinks it works brilliantly. After all, miracles do happen.

Chasing Madoff: A Wistleblower's Tale

Meet Harry Markopolos. It took him four hours to discover Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme and eight years to convince anyone that the guy was a crook, and then only when the stock market tanked leaving the Madoff mess to unravel on it's own, bringing down millions of investors.
Poor Harry. He was the guy screaming wolf when the wolf was at the door and nobody believed him.
This interesting, frustrating documentary follows Harry's growing obsession with the Madoff scheme, his attempts to convince the SEC that the investor was a fraud and his efforts to get the press to take his allegations seriously.
A lesser man — you might say a saner man — would have given up. But luckily he was neither.
The film leaves us wondering why the SEC failed so miserably at its job. Were they just incompetent or were they complicit in the hoax?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Earth: Out of this world

A second Earth, a replica of our planet, hovers over the action in this haunting, thought-provoking sci-fi drama. At once, it changes everything and nothing. If you've ever looked to the heavens and wondered, this movie will resonate with you.
Earth 2, as the new planet is called, appears for the first time at the beginning of the film and sets the plot in motion, causing a tragic encounter between a bright teenager and a happy young married musician. But most of the action takes place four years later.
Earthlings have learned that we each have a double living on our twin planet. Communication is established and a space trip is planned.
"Another Earth" is a spare story about regret and second chances, forgiveness and repair. It haunts with its promise and stuns with its beauty.
Actress Brit Marling, who co-wrote the script with director Mike Cahill, is a mesmerizing screen presence. Her performance and that of William Mapother contribute to the gravitational pull of this absolutely-must-see movie.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One Day:

Four reasons to see this flick:
1. To observe the plethora of hairdos modeled by Anne Hathaway.
2. To relive the tackiest moments of the 1980s.
3. To remember how much you loved "When Harry Met Sally."
4. As a cautionary tale about how gimmicks sink movies.

The conceit in this majorly disappointing dud is that a couple, Emma and Dex, who may or may not be soulmates, touch bases one day a year. The movie hangs on a will-they-or-won't-they theme. Will they "do it?" Will they do more and get hitched? Which is fine — maybe — if the movie-goer cared one fig about the characters involved. And that includes the eminently annoying secondary ones.

The Movie Slut supposes a certain segment of the audience will find "One Day" a delicious, romantic date night movie. We even have some "Love Story" elements thrown in to twang the heartstrings.

Still, in her book the likable Anne couldn't even lift this bomb of a movie. As for her sidekick, Jim Sturgess will have you begging for Hugh Grant.

And you thought that sentence would never be written.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

30 Minutes or Less: Less is Less

Question: What's Jesse Eisenberg doing in a hapless lowball comedy like this? Did the ace actor read the script? Did "The Social Network" star check out the other cast members? Did he owe someone bigtime? Is he slumming?
There's a moment in this moronic movie when it actually seems like a sentient being was at work. Jesse is a pizza delivery guy who works for an operation that promises speedy delivery. Later in the plot, he uses this skill set (the only one he has) in a car chase with the ridiculous bad guys. Alas, the moment zooms by leaving movie-goers wondering if it were just a fluke.
So how bad is "30 Minutes or Less?"
Imagine you're locked in a room with a bunch of tween boys, a couple of kegs of beer, and a dictionary of raunchy words.
Yes, that bad.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Glee,The 3D Concert Movie: Not for Gleeks Only

First there was the TV show. Then there was the concert. Now, there's the movie of the concert.
The Movie Slut isn't a gleek. But she does glike the TV show, and she was pleasantly surprised that the movie was more than kids singing and dancing, which, after all, is free each week on television. What enriches the movie experience is the interspersing of the musical numbers with testimonials from real fans, who explain their affinity for the fictitious nerds, wackos and weirdos who join the glee club instead of the football team or cheer leading squad.
These real high schoolers, including a girl with Aspergers syndrome, a dwarf, and a gay guy, who was forced to change schools when he was outed, are the true stars of the movie.
Still, all is not perfect with "Glee, the 3D Concert Movie." It's about the 3D. Totally unnecessary and annoying, especially because the movie costs more and delivers less. The Movie Slut would have gloved to see this flick in good old 2D.
Enough already!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Help: Lest we forget.

The tragic and outrageous tale of American segregation has been told before. But not this way. Based on a book by author Kathryn Stockett, this movie brings viewers into Mississippi homes in the early 1960s to witness, firsthand, how black domestics were treated by the white women who hired them.
The jobs, a step up from slavery, which found them cooking, cleaning a caring for white women's babies, were the best these maids could get. Everyone knew that and behaved accordingly.
It would be easy for this movie to slide into a good-vs-evil scenario, in which black and white are reversed. But the beauty of "The Help" is that it doesn't. Not every white woman is a Dickensian evil-doer. In fact, one of the most delightful characters is a "white trash" woman ostracized by the gals of the ladies' league.
Jessica Chastain, who gained a voluptuous 15 pounds for the role, is an excellent foil for the "refined," better make that snooty, young women. And Emma Stone, the movie's star is as terrific as we've come to expect her.
And then there's Viola Davis It's almost scary how she slunk back into the role of a subservient domestic with virtually no rights under the corrupt Jim Crow system.
Yes, we know about separate and unequal, but the strength of this must-see movie is that it shows us, as if for the first time, how heinous this chapter of American history really was.

If you have a heart, bring tissues. You'll weep for these women and also for our misguided past.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness

In the small theater where the Movie Slut saw this inspiring documentary, there is a tradition. Before the movie begins, theater personnel amble down the center aisle to greet moviegoers and announce the name of the film they're about to see. (On the outside chance they're in the wrong theater? Or just a nicety? Whatever.)
On this day, the young man who had this job admitted he had no clue how to pronounce the name of the movie. Still, the tradition continued.
It was a fitting beginning for the story of the renown Yiddish writer whose most famous character, Tevye, the milkman, the man who sang about tradition, is probably known to the theater greeter, even if he didn't realize that this "Fiddler on the Roof" character sprung from the pen of the man whose name he could not pronounce.
Yiddish, btw, is defined in the documentary as the "in language of those on the outs." (Not necessarily a direct quote.)
It was the language of Eastern European Jews — part Hebrew, part German with a little Slavic thrown in — in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the chosen written language of the man whose stories entertained these Jews at a time when their traditions were threatened.
The film introduces him as a man with bushels and baskets of stories and shows how his life was many stories, each with its highs and lows.
"Laughing in the Darkness" is not for every moviegoer but it will enrich every moviegoer who sees it.
P.S. It's Shah-lum A-lech-hum.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: An apex of summer

Hail Caesar! King of the Apes. Son of Bright Eyes, died due to an experimental drug to cure Alzheimer's disease. Adopted by a hunky scientist played by James Franco, excellent as always.
If you're looking for a non-taxing summer flick with more heart than brains, that can be enjoyed by all in the family (no toddlers, please), then you can't get much better than this film. Yes, it's full of corn. But no porn. And the violence is minimal. Just leave your disbelief at the ticket counter. It will get in the way of the fun.