Discussions of Shakespeare lately had me thinking of the Bard’s works produced as movies and sent me to Netflix in search of one. Love’s Labour’s Lost is a film from 2000, based on the early Shakespearean comedy of the same name. Kenneth Branagh produced, directed, and starred in the movie.
The first task of any film based on a work of Shakespeare is to deliver the dialogue in a way that’s both true to the Bard and understandable to a modern audience. This film delivers – even American actress Alicia Silverstone manages to bring the clever wordplay to life somehow. Others in the cast are superb in communicating the depth and humor of Shakespeare’s brilliant use of language.
As if that weren’t challenging enough, Branagh has added song and dance numbers to the story, like an old-fashioned musical. In fact, the movie is almost an homage to the works of Fred Astaire, Esther Williams (there’s even a choreographed swimming pool scene!), and others of the pre-1950s Hollywood musical era. I like the songs but they interrupt the unfolding of the story a bit awkwardly at times and the dancing is not amazing enough to really justify itself in the film.
The movie’s twisting plot and witty commentary on human foibles are thoroughly engaging. I like the ambition of the concept of the movie, the cast is strong (Nathan Lane, in particular, simply steals every scene he’s in), and though it’s a bit uneven at times the strength of Shakespeare’s genius and side-splitting sense of humor are enough for me to recommend the film.
Of late, the only kind of movie reviews that I seem to be writing are ones that leave a lot to be desired. Not so much my writing (that, of course), but more so in terms of movie quality. This one, I am sad to say, most definitely tops my list in the “greatly disappointing” category.
Mr. Neeson is a force to reckon with — that is a fact well established thanks to the impressive canon of his work to date, but I daresay he’d do well to simply toss this one out of said canon.
Long review short: A big-name movie star does not a suspense thriller make. If anything, Mr. Neeson has been sadly typecast into the wily veteran role from his series of Taken movies. He is looking jaded from playing the same type of role five years running. The script lacks originality, the direction is choppy, and quite frankly, there is more a sense of claustrophobia than suspense in the running time.
Please do not race to movie theatres to check this one out. I did, only because it was a Friday night, and I thought that everything would be alright! My spouse offered me a three-word review immediately after: “non-stop crap,” and I wonder if I wouldn’t have been better saying just that and leaving it there!
Here’s another one that I dragged my feet on in producing a review for aforementioned reasons, i.e., movie lacked inspiration and entertainment value. And this is particularly disappointing given the all-star cast of the likes of Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, John Goodman, and Matt Damon. Well, perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but still, what were they thinking? Maybe they all found the script to be fascinating, but unfortunately, the screenplay and storyline didn’t quite turn out the way it had played out on paper?
Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, the movie focuses on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR to go into Germany, rescue works of art from the Nazis, and return them to their rightful owners. Well, needless to say, they somehow get it done, but we’re left wondering if we’d rather have seen their characters developed instead.
At best, this is a flat film that drifts on (seemingly endlessly) from moment to moment. The plot is not tight enough and there is a sinking feeling that there isn’t much to the inevitable ending. As a lover of art, I feel like I am betraying myself in feeling so poorly about the movie, but that’s how it went down for me.
There are times when I drag my feet with writing up a review, and usually the reason for that is when the movie was not inspiring, or perhaps even a let-down.
In this case, I suppose I could say that both those conditions were met quite well. The wacky ensemble of Ferrell, Carrel, Wiig, and Applegate seems to be having fun and there are some scattered funnies, but the truly inspired nuttiness that made the first Anchorman a cult hit is in short order. I suppose too much of a good thing isn’t always such a good thing, especially if the good thing wasn’t such a good thing to begin with.
This one must go down in the annals of American movie-making as one of the most self-indulgent movies about over-indulgence. With a grandiose title, A-list actors and based-on-a-true-story subject matter, it is at its best, a flamboyantly savage comedy. We get scene after scene after scene of illicit drugs, kinky sex, and blatant lies, but the film gets terribly redundant very quickly. It could easily have been an hour shorter and lost absolutely nothing.
It is either savage comedy or a manifesto of twisted propaganda. The humiliation and objectification of women is presented in a most clear-cut and brutal manner, right from the moment Belfort trades his wife in for a bustier blonde, to the very many combinations of sexual gratification that may be sought out thanks to the women who help execute them.
The only thing that makes the movie compelling is that perhaps some people want to be just like De Caprio’s Belfort. Many Americans wish to believe that anyone can become rich if they want it bad enough. The only reason that people are poor is that they are lazy and the government interferes with the great invisible hand. And the implication is that with great industriousness comes corruption that unfortunately knows no bounds and that is oblivious to the eventual pain and suffering of the innocent.
De Caprio does a fine job of projecting all this drama. And Jonah Hill is a fine accompanist. Yet with all of the pain the drugs and the deception cause, there is, alas, never a trace of atonement or redemption — of sympathy for pains caused, to self or others. And that is disturbing, and it kept this off a “human” scale that leaves me unsettled, and not quite as satisfied as some other Scorsese films have. But perhaps, that is point?
A.O. Scott of the New York Times sums it up best like this: Does “The Wolf of Wall Street” condemn or celebrate? Is it meant to provoke disgust or envy? If you walk away feeling empty and demoralized, worn down by the tackiness and aggression of the spectacle you have just witnessed, perhaps you truly appreciate the film’s critical ambitions. If, on the other hand, you ride out of the theater on a surge of adrenaline, intoxicated by its visual delights and visceral thrills, it’s possible you missed the point. The reverse could also be true. To quote another one of Mr. Scorsese’s magnetic, monstrous heroes, Jake LaMotta, that’s entertainment.
While it may be easy to decry the utter degradation of what was once the institution of slavery, it is not so easy to watch a depiction of it without the rose-colored lenses of a ‘Gone with the Wind’ variety. Because the harsh reality is that the lovely plantations of the South were essentially concentration camps, and American slavery lasted not just a decade or so, but went on for 245 years.
Unrelenting in its scenes of brutality and humiliation, 12 Years tells the tale of a free black man in upstate New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery to a series of plantation owners in the deep South. Prepare to see the other side of the famous Southern charm and hospitality that includes having the mistress serve fine baked goods to the slaves as a precursor to the nightly sexual assault that follows at the hands of the master. And if that in itself is not revolting enough, perhaps the myriad other human indignities committed on the person and psyche of each slave might bring you to your knees. This is a story about Solomon, who may represent an entire people and, by extension, the peculiar institution, as well as the past and present of this great country called America.
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender are quite exceptional in their roles of slave and master, and Lupita Nyong’o as Patsy is impossibly unforgettable. The cinematography is haunting in its beauty of cotton fields and is sharply juxtaposed with the deep sadness of life as they know it. The frames are intentionally long to the point that they cause discomfort. How long can one gaze at an open field or a pained expression without wincing?
It matters not that we don’t know much about Solomon, the slave. What matters is only that he is human—as are the other slaves—and to treat a human being in a most inhumane way and yet justify it in the name of God is the greatest atrocity yet.
This may be about a famous federal sting, but, like all good movies, it’s also a love story (or two). The all star cast includes – Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Robert DiNero, Louis C.K., and the incomparable – Christian Bale.
Mr. Bale is enormously talented, and his physical transformation is exceptional. He personifies the art of the con, and embodies the character of Irving Rosenfeld – with all of his beautifully nuanced mannerisms, his sensitivity, his insecurity (especially about his meticulous and Trump-like hairdo), and his desire to love and be loved.
Big hair and bad polyester clothes define the era of the seventies, and showcases its excesses — from spandex to ’staches.
Certainly worth the price of admission. And yet, I’d say the movie is about thirty minutes too long, and the ending is way too neat and tidy.
Not a sci-fi movie technically, but for mere earthlings so far removed from space, it might as well have been one.
Bullock and Clooney are easy on the eyes and the ears, and offer quite the credible performance, which supplemented by the suspense of the story produces quite the viewing experience, but there’s things that could have made the script and screenplay even more credible. Dr. Ryan (Bullock) states early on that she enjoys the silence of space, only later to speak of her endless hours listening to the radio. And I wondered how it is that she is so queasy in her spacesuit after all those months of training…
Still, it is what it is, and you can’t help but feel a sense of wonderment in the sheer possibilities of traversing through space, and a terrible sense of claustrophobia and even doom at the thought of how this is bound to end badly…
But there is a greater divinity that shapes our ends rough hew them how we will, and in a very complicated but masterful way we watch in amazement as the story of a woman trapped in space unfolds.
Watching it in 3D provided an extra sense of reality to an otherwise non-real viewing experience.
Very disjointed, long, and pretending to be art, exaggerated characters and poor screenplay leave you feeling like you’ve been taken advantage of. A fine cast of characters but there’s no satisfaction to it. I must admit, though, that I was mostly busy ogling the lavish sets, clothes, shoes, jewelry, cheetahs, and Cameron Diaz’s wicked badness.
You know it’s a good movie when no one opens their phones, talks, or even moves a muscle inside the theater. That’s because either the plot, the characters, the suspense, or the combination of all three are truly thrilling.
Which is true of Prisoners, thanks in large part to the intense performances by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhall.
Slow at times, but a thrilling ride nonetheless. Quite the perfect whodunit. A few minor observations/criticisms: how does a conservative white family in rural Pennsylvania become best friends with a Black family? And that Thanksgiving dinner was so low-key, it didn’t even come close to the average American Thanksgiving meal– what was up with that?
Overall, a fine story with twists and links that keeps you wondering and talking about it long after you’ve stepped out of the movie theater.
The planet Earth and its inhabitants are a sorry mess in the year 2154, Los Angeles being a prime example of the gross poverty, disease and devastation that the people have been afflicted with, and Elysium a space station, in the shape of a wheel, orbiting just beyond the confines of Earth—less than twenty minutes away, by shuttle.
Perfect conditions for a savior to step in, and Matt Damon’s Max steps in with a quiet determination to make it to Elysium and change the world as he knows it.
If Damon is spot-on in the role of savior, so is Jodie Foster– quite surprisingly– in the role of ruthless Secretary of Defense of Elysium.
We look on in fascination at the contrast of disparities between the two places, and wonder if immortality at the cost of a soulless existence is truly preferable to a weak and fallible human race that doesn’t have much but does have the heart to help each other out even if it means risking their own lives for it.
I’m sorry it took me so long to see this, but I’m very glad I didn’t miss out on what must definitely be one of Bollywood’s more superior offerings of this year.
Rishi Kapoor is at his best and seems to get better each year—who said getting old isn’t spectacular?
And who would have thought that Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi would become a hotbed of intrigue and drama on this spectacular scale. But underneath all the conspiracies and the killings is a tragic tale of blood spilled senselessly. Where is the redemption? Sometimes, there is none.
Classic Woody Allenesque from start to finish, prepare to witness the unraveling of the most grandiose of American dreams. And the unraveling of a woman who has everything going for her to begin with but chooses to give it all up only to try to get it all back.
There’s an underlying current of cruelty to the way Cate Blanchett’s character is developed, and the humbling of her persona is sad to watch, but despite all her frailties, there is still something admirable about her sense of self. Which is not necessarily her strongest suit, but then again, desperation is a hard taskmaster.
Lots of dialog, contrast of characters galore, and a compelling performance by both Blanchett and Alec Baldwin make this an interesting film even though you may not come away feeling great ninety minutes later.
Another fun and funny movie set in Delhi that captures the essence of that lively city by way of the style of Hindi/Punjabi spoken and the general North-Indian feel to be found there.
Bollywood has been evolving over the past several years in fresh and surprising ways, and Fukrey is a fine example of this.
Perhaps everything’s not quite always in place, and the storyline might be a bit far-fetched, and the acting a little too strained, but nonetheless this is a smartly directly movie, and good for a few good laughs.
A very slick production with superb storytelling, direction, cinematography, music, and acting makes this a movie to reckon with.
For the most part, Indo-Pak relations are cause for stress, but what better way to add some sizzle to the same-old same-old than to check out the insides of spy operations between the two countries. Build a believable cover, and you can infiltrate the impenetrable. But when the cover is not simply a facade but becomes part and parcel of yourself, love of country becomes truly challenging. It is this dilemma that is explored with grace and finesse.
Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal, Shruti Hassan, and the other two women are convincing in their roles, and Irrfan kicks it up a notch, I think. Rishi Kapoor is flawless as the most-wanted terrorist that our Indian RAW agents are after. Finally, the music is beautiful, particularly the one song called Dhuaan.
There is a certain thrill to watching any movie on its opening night, and perhaps even more so with a Hindi movie. For one thing, the theatre is full to capacity– a rare sight in these United States. And with a full house comes a certain bonhomie that permeates through the crowd making the viewing experience even more fun.
Which is essentially what this movie was– fun! Fun in the most light-hearted sense of the word. Fun, because we all know the story line is far-fetched and exaggerated and because there’s not too much to analyze. A movie such as this is what a good Bollywood masala movie is made of: lots of song-and-dance, catchy one-liners, and slapstick comedic moments.
Shah Rukh Khan is still rocking the silver screen playing a 40-year old who could be a 20-year old for all we know. What’s truly impressive is that the actor is an unabashed 47 years old! The Padukone girl is talented in her own right, and the rest of the Tamil and Hindi-speaking cast work together well to offer up a not-too-unpredictable story replete with plenty of group dances.
What makes this a fun movie is the north vs. south theme that highlights regional differences poking fun at accents and mannerisms. For someone like my husband who speaks both languages well, I’d say it is particularly a hoot.
High marks for good entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less.
Zack Snyder, the director, has given Superman a new lease on franchise life by affirming that this most American hero is also an alien yearning to reconcile his dual identity, not unlike another beloved sci-fi figure, Dr. Spock from the Star Trek franchise. But unlike Spock, there is nothing alien-looking about this man—rather, from all outward appearances, he is nothing but a prefect specimen of the human species. The British actor, Henry Cavill, must have been born for this role of part man-part superman, and all hunk!
For those familiar with the story, it is always interesting to see a new spin on the origins of Superman. Russell Crowe might have crossed over into the realm of playing older father figures, but delivers in a not-so-convincing manner. However, Superman’s earthly mother, Diane Lane, is fabulous in her role, and she along with her husband, Kevin Costner, provide a loving Midwestern home to Superman as he grows up being bullied by the neighborhood kids even as he strains to conceal his supernatural powers.
There is a great deal of imagery borrowed from the Christian/Jewish canon, and it would take a completely uninformed person to not see it. But beyond the religious referencing, there is a strong theme that is quintessentially American: the immigrant experience.
The special effects and sound effects are spectacular as all such movies go, these days. Amy Adams is edgy as she is pretty, and Clark Kent sans curl on the forehead, is very dapper as the budding journalist with the glasses and dark suit.
Thanks for the ride, Superman! See you in the skies!