Killer Joe is one of those movies about a family so dysfunctional that it makes you feel satisfied with your own. Emile Hirsch, the central character and the son, is probably as normal as any son who has ever hired a professional to kill his mother, and Juno Temple is doing not badly for a girl whose mother tried to suffocate her. The father, Thomas Haden Church, is extremely unintelligent, and Gina Gershon, his second wife, is a bit of a tramp, if I may revive a term pretty much abandoned now. And none of them has what I would regard as anything like a normal moral sense.
Cloud Atlas is a movie obviously made by professionals who know their work. It moves pretty fast and looks spectacular, and except for the Flash Gordon transportation devices, it doesn’t look like any other movie I can think of. Even the mountain Halle Berry and Tom Hanks climb doesn’t look like any mountain I have seen, on screen or off, and the futuristic sets for the future-but pre-apocalyptic sequence bear only generic resemblance to other futuristic sets. Makeup people have certainly earned their pay as they disguise Tom Hanks and Halle Berry and Jim Broadbent and others i
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.