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.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is a charming little movie made unusual by the extent to which it is told from the point of view of a six-year-old child who is at no point cute in the Shirley Temple way. She is quite believable though hardly average child confronted with an awful situation, her mother long gone, her father gradually dying, and her little homeland in the Louisiana swamps under water in a flood. She isn’t a prodigy, but she has been told always to do what has to be done, and never to cry; and she has learned these lessons well.
The Watch is a silly little comedy that should keep everybody entertained except some who will find parts of it too grisly realistic and some who are sensitive to bad language.
It is not out to inspire thought or emotions, just laughter, and it doesn’t try to conceal its dependence on other movies, snips of which you will recognize almost like a leit motif, especially if you see more action and sci-fi movies than I do.
Safety Not Guaranteed is a completely successful but highly peculiar little movie the Eagle’s Rod Pocowatchit started by calling “deadpan funny,” and then never mentioned humor again, referring instead to it as an “imaginative, unexpectedly wondrous journey,” “charming and warm,” using words like “heart and conscience” and “electric” and “the tenderness of the human condition.” I refer you to last week’s “GO!” section. Pocowatchit is dead on.