Frankenweenie had several strikes against it before it even came on, so I consulted with no less than eight people about it after it ended, and must report that nobody, including me, rated it at less than three stars out of a possible four, with half giving it a maximum four. I don’t like Tim Burton’s stop-motion puppets because they are either spherical heads with tiny pyramidal noses or grotesque but too traditional caricatures. But you have to credit Frankenweenie with effective emotional expression whenever emotional expression is attempted. But only the caricature
Time magazine says Ben Affleck wants to make “serious movies for serious people,” by which, if we can judge by 2010’s The Town and this year’s Argo, he means movies of the old genre type, especially semi-documentaries and films noir, featuring straightforward storytelling without a lot of emphasis on internal action and flashbacks, clear and relatively simple plot lines but a lot of suspense, characters that do not need a lot of introspection but do behave in understandable ways for understandable reasons, and in general a clear resemblance to the world we live i
Maybe I’m just getting acclimated to current movies, or maybe I’m just tired of griping about movies that don’t make consistent sense, but Looper seemed to me to hold together as well as you expect a time travel movie to hold together. A lot of the mysterious elements appear at the beginning and the explanations tend to appear a lot later and I’m not sure all the initial elements are covered or that all the explanations hold. But I wasn’t frustrated or otherwise unhappy as to Looper making sense.
The Master is this year’s Tree of Life, the movie critics rave about in spite of the fact that David Thomson in The New Republic says, “I have the gravest doubts as to whether it is about anything,” Lisa Schwartzbaum calls it “enigmatic,” and Cary Darling in the Eagle describes it as “easy to admire but harder to love.” I beg to be excused from either activity.
The great thing about Arbitrage is that writer-director Nicholas Jarecki never gives in to what must have been a temptation to surrender his theme to Hollywood melodrama. Arbitrage begins and ends as a story of how one moral failure leads to another one and how one person’s weakness involves other people, one man’s guilt makes other people act guiltily, too, without going beyond what ordinary people with understandable motives might do, under the circumstances.
The Cold Light of Day is just a plateful of same-old same-old. Don’t expect anything better just because Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver are in it, because they are strictly support players and must have fallen on bad days to be in such warmed over mashed potatoes as this. One would think they would have had enough clout to insist on at least colorful character roles.
Except for The Passion of the Christ, I can’t think of another movie that revels in blood and pain as much asLawless does. For once, every smash of the brass knuckles and every blast of the bullets reaps its harvest of gore and the camera lingers to pick up the writhing and groaning. And yet Lawless seems to be a little squeamish about exactly what happened to the captive heroine and what Guy Pearce did to Dane DeHaan except to kill him, which would hardly inspire so much fury in the world of Virginia hills during the moonshine days of Prohibition. It’s not for me t
Ruby Sparks is a happy surprise for at least three reasons: heroine Zoe Kazan is a fun new actress who also wrote the script, it is an enjoyable love story, and it is a pleasant comic variation on Frankenstein; unless one is very sensitive to bad language, I can’t see why anyone would not like it.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a fantasy movie that wants to be a charming little moral fable, but that lacks emotional charge and involves one plot problem that may give you no trouble if you keep in mind that there is nothing requiring supernatural beings to have much intelligence.
It might seem a pretty brave act to try to make a political satire reflecting our present political campaigns, since satire consists of exaggerating the ridiculous aspects of something and our present situation is hard to exaggerate. But writers Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell and director Jay Roach, who directedGame Change and Recount and ought to know the situation, have managed to get an A- rating fromEntertainment Weekly with Campaign, which got a 2 ½ in the Eagle and would get less than that from me.