La La Land
I liked this film, but I didn't fall in love like some of the others have. Hollywood loves to romanticize the story of artists and would-be artists—but these same people aren't very accepting of the soap operas of other folks. Ryan Gosling, as always, was great. A-
Pretty terrific coming-of-age set in Sacramento. Academy Award possibility? A-
Samuel L. Jackson is a fine actor who doesn't always seem to be in movies that showcase his talent. He's pretty good in this one, and it's a fine melodrama, until the last ten minutes or so, which didn't work very well for me.
Lars and the Real Girl
I really liked this movie and I'm sure it was an incredibly difficult story to pull off. Actually, it's a miracle. So is Ryan Gosling, who keeps getting better and better. Having said that, some of you are not going to be able to get into a story about a grown man falling in love with a blow-up doll.
The Last House on the Left
This was mostly a pleasant surprise for me. I never saw the two previous takes on this tale, but this one features good acting and pretty good direction. There are two quick scenes—one involving a knife, one involving a microwave—that I could have done without.
The Last Song
Quite a lot to like (Greg Kinnear, Miley Cyrus when she's angry in the script, most of the story as long as you're a romantic type). But what strikes me most is how films like this dramatize the divide between the so-called red- and blue-state mentalities. Reviewers (most living in the blues states) showed zero tolerance for the film's middle-American values. I think that's kind of a shame.
Law Abiding Citizen
I have an advantage over most critics because I see movies in the theater with real live audiences. Our theater was filled for this one, and people were yelling and cheering at the screen. That's because—I think—Law Abiding Citizen is a barometer measuring just how angry most people are about the breakdown of America's justice system. The film was too violent, and too silly, at times but it really effects audiences. Jamie Foxx is good here, and Gerard Butler is pretty great. I want him for the Alex Cross movie.
Leave No Trace
Solid, pure. A little slow. Not as good as the director’s previous masterpiece (Winter’s Bone). B
Letters from Iwo Jima
Quick story. Years ago I was standing with Clint Eastwood in a restaurant. A guy came up and asked for an autograph-my autograph. Clint Eastwood leaned in and said, "I need a hit movie, bad." Well, he had several hit movies, and this is another fine one. Great concept, good execution, won't be everybody's cup of tea-but it's definitely a cup of tea.
Lions for Lambs
Most critics were hard on this film, but not hard enough. It is a preachy, condescending mess that states the obvious—the best and the brightest are no longer running our government or working in the media; but the film also demonstrates that the best and the brightest aren't leading the way in Hollywood either.
Sometimes funny, often clumsy. I don't know what I expected - but somehow it fell below my expectations. C+
Overrated by the critics, but the movie comes together nicely at the end. B-
Twisty, well-acted, and very watchable. But I kept comparing it in my head to "Blade Runner" and praising the merits of a classical education (Ridley Scott's) versus a somewhat shallower American view of this world and its alternatives.
The first of three "boys" action flicks coming soon to a theater near you—The A-Team and The Expendables to follow. Some funny moments, plus the talented Idris Elba, but mostly derivative and predictable stuff (known as homage in some parts of Hollywood).
Let's assume—safely—that you're a reader. So why are so many readers in America opposed to films with subtitles? Why not think of them as book-movie combos? Two entertainments for the price of one. Otherwise, you'll keep missing terrific movies like this one.
The Lucky Ones
This is the story of 3 soldiers who are wounded in Iraq and come back for a thirty-day leave. It's going to disappear without a ripple. But I thought it was a pretty good story, with very good actors—Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams and Michael Peña. What struck me most about the film is the caring these soldiers showed one another once they were out in the civilian world. It's something many of us seem to have forgotten about.
Supposedly we humans only use 10% of our brains. This is a story about a human (if Scarlett Johansson is actually human) accessing 100% of her brain. Unfortunately, once the story gets past that 10%, writer/director Luc Besson (himself a 10%-er of course) had no idea how to finish the story. B+