Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NOAH


fantasy, science fiction

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Russell Crowe: Noah
Jennifer Connelly: his wife Naameh
Douglas Booth: their oldest son Shem
Logan Lerman: Shem’s brother Ham
Leo Carroll: the youngest son Japheth
Anthony Hopkins: Noah’s grandfather Methuselah
Emma Watson: Ila, a badly injured survivor of a slaughter

REVIEW
The title of the movie is that of an historical figure who according to scriptures saved mankind from the wrath of God. Sure we all understand Hollywood takes certain liberties with the truth as we know it but when they rewrite the biblical story and have big ugly creatures made out of lumps of coal help Noah build the Ark, when men use tools and utensils well before they are invented (iron weapons and shields, rockets, chain link fence, animal traps) then the movie is nothing but a travesty of the Biblical recounting of these events. 

This fantasy, science-fiction film has no business making use of the name of Noah because of its implications. Call it “Noah and the lumps of coal” and I have no problem with that knowing it is a film about some guy called Noah who has some rather strange friends. So if he tosses down a seed into the barren ground and magically a forest of trees appears, trees just the right size to build an ark that’s alright because my expectations would be nothing more than seeing a soon-to-be-forgotten figment of someone’s imagination.

If that’s not bad enough, the film is overlong at two hours and twenty minutes, it is sluggish at times (probably to provide some relief to the senses after one of many loud, bombastic battles better suited to Star Wars) and makes Noah out to be something of a brutally cruel monster, not the man chosen by God to fulfill a mission of mercy.  

One final thought: as the audience filed out, the pervasive mood was that of bitter disappointment or perhaps disbelief. No one seemed happy or pleased with what they had just seen.

CLASSIFICATION

 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content.

Friday, March 28, 2014

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL


Comedy, adventure

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Tom Wilkinson: a well known author
Jude Law: the author as a younger man
F. Murray Abraham: Mr. Moustafa, the hotel owner
Ralph Fiennes: Monsieur Gustave, the hotel concierge
Tony Revolori: Zero, the hotel lobby boy
Saoirse Ronan: pastry chef Agatha
Tilda Swinton: the very wealthy Madame D
Adrien Brody: her son Dmitri
Edward Norton: Inspector Henckels
Willem Dafoe:  Dmitri’s pal J. G. Jopling
Harvey Keitel: prisoner Ludwig
Bill Murray: Monsieur Ivan
Owen Wilson: Monsieur Chuck

REVIEW
Once more Ralph’s Rule of Redundancy applies:
“Any film where one person takes on more than two key positions has a major shortcoming: the absence of independent critical judgement that results in something less than it might have been.” In this case Wes Anderson is Writer, Director and Producer and the film suffers from it.

Depending upon what you find funny, this story of a concierge and a lobby boy could be hilarious (as was the case with two ladies in the audience who laughed at almost everything) to one provoking the odd smile. For me, it was the latter.

But it is not a easy story to follow as there are all kinds of twists and turns. The effort to keep things sorted out was just too much for me.

CLASSIFICATION
 for language, some sexual content and violence.


FOR NITPICKERS ONLY
  • Modern CPR methods for non-medical personnel came out in the 1960’s, some 30 years after these events took place.
  • When viewed from the front, the strap of Zero’s bag is diagonally across his chest but seen from the side it hangs down vertically.
P.S.

The painting substituted for the Boy with Apple is in really poor taste and has no business in a comedy of this sort. Having to rely on a crotch-grabbing image to get a laugh is a sign of desperation.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

THE LUNCHBOX






F.Y.I.
In India for over 100 years hot lunches prepared at home or at a local restaurant are delivered to the employee’s workplace by a dabbawala, a person who also returns the empty lunchbox (called a dabba) at the end of the day. There are roughly 5,0000 dabbawala just in Mumbai who deliver an estimated 200,000 lunchboxes a month. They pride themselves on their punctuality and near-perfect record of delivery: a Harvard University study concluded that only one in a million lunchboxes goes to the wrong person.

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Nimrat Kaur: housewife Ila
Nakul Vaid: her husband Rajiv
Ifran Khan: Saajan, a claims clerk near retirement
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: Shaikh, his imminent replacement

REVIEW
This charming film about two people who meet by chance and establish a relationship is not your usual romantic comedy movie. For starters, the actors are not that well know and both leads give gentle, believable, unhurried  performances. And there is no wham-bam-thank-you-mam moments. So un-Hollywood. So refreshing.

CLASSIFICATION
PG for thematic material and smoking.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

ENEMY




PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
Jake Gyllenhaal: Adam Bell, history professor
Mélanie Laurent: his girlfiiend Mary
Jake Gyllenhaal: Anthony Clair, bit-part actor
Sarah Gadon: his pregnant wife Helen

REVIEW
This is a strange movie: after a totally incomprehensible beginning with spiders and sexy ladies, a depressing glum fellow with a very active sex life (if you know what I mean) sees his double in a rented DVD,  tracks him down and confronts him. And then out of the blue, gets accused of doing things with his double’s wife.

But it’s the ending that is completely baffling. Come to think of it,  so is the rest of the movie.

I should have walked out which would have resulted in a more accurate rating but I hung in hoping I could make sense out of it. What a waste of time.

CLASSIFICATION
 for some strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language.

FOR NITPICKERS ONLY
  • This is one of my classic nitpicks: when the person on the end of the line (Mary) hangs up, the telephone caller (Adam) hears a dial tone. In reality the dial tone is only heard after picking up the phone before dialling. That’s why it’s called a dial tone.
  • Several times Adam wakes up suddenly and each time the bedside clock show it to be 3:19 so either he set the alarm for this ungodly hour or these separate instances were shot within minutes of each other. Your call.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

MUPPETS MOST WANTED



Musical comedy adventure

PRINCIPAL CAST or VOICE MEMBERS
Steve Whitmire: Kermit the Frog and Rizzo the Rat
Eric Jacobson: Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal and Sam the Eagle
Dave Goelz: the Great Gonzo and others
Matt Vogel: Constantine and others
Ricky Gervais: Constantine’s sidekick Dominic Badguy
Ty Burrell: Jean Pierre Napoleaon, a French Interpol inspector
Tina Fey: Nadya, a Russian GULAG officer

REVIEW
Pretty good. That in a nutshell is how I feel about this latest sequel. The gags and one-liners are few and only provoke a smile rather than merriment and at almost two hours, it is too long. The children around me were fidgeting (when was the last time that happened during a Muppets movie) and not once was there a real outbreak of laughter.

All the while there are cameo performances by artists such as Tony Bennett, Sean Diddy Combs, Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Salma Hayek, Ray Liotta, Stanley Tucci and others who add little if anything to the endeavour.

CLASSIFICATION
for some mild action.

FOR NITPICKERS ONLY
The Interpol Inspector’s tie clip moves from one scene to another.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

THE WIND RISES




PRINCIPAL VOICE MEMBERS
Zach Callison: young Jirô Horikoshi
Stanley Tucci: Italian airplane designer Giovanni Caproni
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: the older Jirô
Emily Blunt: young artist Naoko Satomi
John Krasinski: Jirô’s colleague and best friend Honjô

REVIEW
The film is based on the life of the young man who became the chief engineer at Mitsubishi  and designed many of the Japanese fighter planes used in World War II. It covers the period from the 1920’s to the 1940’s and leaves unsaid the impact his finest creation (the A6M, better known as the Japanese Navy’s Zero) had on the world.

This is animation for adults as children would have no interest in the story line as there are no cuddly animals or catchy musical numbers. And it’s drawn in the old fashioned way, not something generated by a computer.

Sufficient time is given to develop most characters although we are never provided any insight as to why Jirô’s sister is so grumpy. However it does run on a bit too long at two hours and six minutes. Some editing could have been done without great loss.

CLASSIFICATION

 for some disturbing images and smoking.

Friday, February 28, 2014

THE MONUMENTS MEN


 Historical drama

PRINCIPAL CAST MEMBERS
George Clooney: Harvard museum curator Frank Stokes
Matt Damon: art restorer James Granger
Bill Murray: architect Richard Campbell
John Goodman: sculptor Walter Garfield
Jean Dujardin: French art dealer Jean-Claude Clermont
Bob Galaban: theatrical producer Preston Savitz
Hugh Bonneville: painting teacher Donald Jefferies
Cate Blanchett: French art expert Claire Simone

REVIEW
Probably the greatest treasure hunt in history, the film tells the story of a little-know unit during World War II. With great attention to detail (except for a few exceptions noted below) it captures the look and feel of wartime Europe.

Although there is a lot of switching back and forth between the teams it’s not too difficult to follow their efforts to find the stolen art treasures. The acting is uniformly good (as you would expect from this A-list of actors) and the odd amusing moment is a welcome relief.

CLASSIFICATION
 for violence, mature themes, smoking.

FOR NITPICKERS ONLY
  • The architectural model in the movie is not the Fuhrer Museum; it is the Volkshalle another of Hitler’s grand monumental projects to be constructed after the war.
  • Claire has James over for dinner and the bottle of wine is three quarters full yet she says “we’re out of wind, would you like a cognac?”
  • Walter receives a 45 rpm record which he then plays; trouble is, this format of records was not available until 1949, four years after these events took place.

P.S.
The Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program was established by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943. Known as the Monuments Men the group of 345 men and women (not 7 men) from 13 countries (not 3) were tasked with the job of protecting cultural treasures as best they could.