Friday, September 14, 2012



Frank Langella: Frank, a crusty septuagenarian
James Marsden: Frank’s son Hunter, an attorney
Liv Tyler: Frank’s daughter Madison
Susan Sarandon: local librarian Jennifer
Jeremy Strong: library trustee Jake

“Set in the not too distant future”, this simple tale of an aging Frank is a bit sad as we see the effect his failing memory has on his family. However spurred on by the assistance of a robot, Frank shows some of his former spunk. Langella does a great job, nicely balancing the different personality traits the role calls for.

However this charming little film is ruined by the ending: the transition to the bucolic setting is too abrupt, totally out of sync with the rest of the film that unfolds at an unhurried pace. And then the final scene, well it needs to be rewritten big time: as one moviegoer was heard to say “it’s a real cop out leaving things that way”. I agree.

 for some language.



This latest IMAX documentary covers some very familiar ground: global warming and the daily struggle just to survive in this harsh environment. By focusing on a mother polar bear and her twin seven-month-old cubs their plight becomes evident but the solutions are not.

Meryl Streep narrates with feeling and Sir Paul McCartney has written some new songs that almost overwhelm the viewer. But not quite, as the majestic landscape rivets our attention as the background to a serious problem.

Although the producers have avoided including anything of a gory nature, that does not mean to say the film is without some sense of pending doom. By contrast, the cubs provide more than a few moments of levity so it’s a nice balance.


Saturday, September 1, 2012


Action thriller

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: NYC bicycle messenger Wilee (as in Wile E. Coyote)
Dania Ramirez: Wilee’s ex-girlfriend Vanessa
Jamie Chung: Vanessa’s roomie Nima
Assif Mandvi: Raj, company dispatcher
Michael Shannon: NYPD Detective Robert Monday
Wolé Parks: Manny, another bicycle messenger
Christopher Place: NYPD bicycle cop

Clearly not an Academy Award candidate, it is nevertheless interesting enough watching a group of “kamikaze” bike riders do their thing along the streets of Manhattan. To crank up the action (as if there is not enough) a rogue cop wants to get his hands on the premium rush package before it gets delivered. Let the fun begin.

The crisp editing keeps things moving along and the unusual routes these delivery people take result in some comic moments to lighten things up, just in case you’re taking things too seriously.
for some violence, intense action sequences and language.


 Crime drama

Tom Hardy: Forrest Bondurant
Jason Clark: his older brother Howard
Shia LaBeouf: their younger brother Jack
Dane DeHaan: Jack’s friend Cricket
Bill Camp: Sheriff Hodges
Jessica Chastain: Maggie Beauford, an exotic dancer
Guy Pearce: Special Deputy Charlie Rakes
Mia Wasikowska: Preacher Minnix’s teen aged daughter Bertha
Gary Oldman: Chicago gangster Floyd Banner

This telling of how things were in Franklin County, Virginia, the bootlegging capital of the USA during the Depression era has a lot going for it: high production values with particular attention to detail (except for a few items noted below) coupled with some fine acting and a strong story line.

But all that is mired in blood: this has to be the goriest movie I’ve seen in years as I purposely go out of my way to avoid that kind of thing. I get no pleasure in watching people being beaten to a pulpy mush, of seeing in close-up the blood spurting out while the victim struggles to survive, gasping and thrashing about. But the retribution enacted upon the instigator of the slashing is even worse. And we get to see it in detail.

The point being, this grisly depiction of violence is not just an incidental aspect of the film you could ignore. No, it starts with the very first scene when we see the older brother dispatch a corralled pig with a shotgun. I need not describe the result as cruelty offends most people’s sensibilities. And so it should.
for strong, bloody violence, language, some sexuality and nudity.

Jack shows Bertha his new camera, a Brownie Target Six-20. Trouble is, Kodak only began selling that model in 1946, some 15 years after these events took place.

When Maggie is talking with Forrest her pink bathrobe is on or off her right shoulder depending upon the camera’s point of view, from behind or in front of her.