The Dark Knight (2008)

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The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

When Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent launch an assault on the mob, they let the clown out of the box, the Joker, bent on turning Gotham on itself and bringing any heroes down to his level.

Heath Ledger won The Golden Globe which reminds me of something. I’m sure this will get me no end of flaming comments, but here goes….

I saw The Dark Knight, and it was fine. It was a Batman movie, it was enjoyable – but it was nothing near what the hype suggested it would be.


* I can’t stand Katie Holmes. I think her acting is just fine, but her personal life has rendered her nearly intolerable. However, replacing her with Maggie Gyllenhaal was ridiculous. Gyllenhaal was nowhere near appealing enough to have us believing the major characters were both in love with her. Holmes is much more attractive physically and as Rachel Dawes.

* Christian Bale is one of my favorite actors, ever since his appearance in Empire of the Sun. He is a performer who you can count on to deliver a quality performance, and in Batman Begins, I think he did. For some reason, this time out, he decided to adopt an odd verbal style. While in the suit, he was nearly unintelligible. His first foray as Batman was great, this time I wanted to smack him upside the head and yell, “spit it out!”

* And, this will really get me in trouble, Heath Ledger . . . not that great. Much like his performance in Brokeback Mountain, where he did a poor imitation of Karl Childers, Ledger relies on affectation rather than acting. It is tragic that he died, but that doesn’t make his performance better – it makes it poignant and sad, but not better. I didn’t feel anything for this Joker but confusion – as to whether it would have gotten anywhere near the positive press if Ledger hadn’t died. I have nothing against the guy, but seriously, if you watch that performance objectively, does it truly deserve to effusive praise that has been heaped upon it?

All in all, The Dark Knight was full up to the brim with overacting. The early Batman films were big, cartoony movies – overacting fit. These latest films seemed to be aiming at more grown-up, more serious – the performances should be tailored to fit.

In the words of another comic book hero, “Flame on”


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 94%, Users 93%

UPDATE: I seem to agree with this guy

Shirley Valentine (1989)

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Shirley Valentine

Shirley’s a middle-aged Liverpool housewife, who finds herself talking to the wall while she prepares her husband’s chip’n’egg, wondering what happened to her life. She compares scenes in her current life with what she used to be like and feels she’s stagnated and in a rut. But when her best friend wins an all-expenses-paid vacation to Greece for two, Shirley begins to see the world, and herself, in a different light.

One of my favorite flicks for many reasons. It completely reinforces my trip to Greece fantasy. It illuminates the drawbacks of a small life, and highlights the options. It makes being “of a certain age” seem a bit more palatable. It has several laugh out loud lines, along with all the chuckles. It also has a great message and some very touching moments. It has gorgeous scenery. It has Tom Conti ๐Ÿ˜€

Shirley Valentine is an anthem to the freedom of the soul–with a generous dose of salt of the earth.

I have yet to see Mamma Mia, but I doubt it will replace Shirley Valentine on my “chick flick set in Greece” list. The only reason it doesn’t get the full five stars is because of the chick-flickiness….and some bad language…and nudity.

If you haven’t yet seen it, rent it soon. You may not love it as much as I do, but you are sure to be entertained.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 73%; Users 76%

Baby Mama (2008)

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Baby Mama

Baby Mama

Successful, single businesswoman Kate Holbrook has long put her career ahead of a personal life. Now 37, she’s determined to have a kid on her own. But her plan is thrown a curve ball after she discovers she has only a million-to-one chance of getting pregnant. Undaunted, the driven Kate allows South Philly working girl Angie Ostrowiski to become her unlikely surrogate.

Simple, predictable, treacly premise…in anyone else’s hands. In the hands of Fey & Poehler, it is a hit. It definitely manages to touch a nerve, but with humor. Combine Fey’s wit with some great casting and you are guaranteed a good time.

Poehler’s Angie was a bit over-the-top (is there ever a time she isn’t over the top?) but the obnoxious behavior at the outset is necessary to illustrate the journey her character, and Fey’s, travels.

Greg Kinnear always adds to a movie and this is no exception. When I see him on screen I know I will enjoy his performance, even if the rest of the movie sucks.

A nice surprise is Romany Malco as the over-involved doorman – with a heart of gold ๐Ÿ˜‰ Even with all the lines she gave him, the part could have been a throw-away in lesser hands (or, more likely, considerably overplayed) He keeps you laughing

Steve Martin is one of my faves, more as a writer than a performer, and his part here seems more stunt (or homage) than anything else. It works fine, but was unnecessary. Sigourney Weaver pulls off her bit quite well, though I never really connected to what she was trying to convey – is she a good guy or a bad guy? Compassionate or opportunistic?

In supporting roles we have Maura Tierney (good), Holland Taylor (fabulous), and several SNL alums (fine).

I did have a few nit-picky complaints, though nothing serious enough to be a deal breaker (see below, they’re spoilers). You don’t need to see this on the big screen, though, unless you want to see it NOW.


Rotten Tomatoes: critics 61%; users 69%;

the spoilers: Continue reading →

Iron Man (2008)

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Iron Man

Iron Man

Based on yet another Marvel series, Iron Man has plenty of things going for it, the main assets being an enjoyably sardonic Downey, his hardware, and the downturned mouth of his new metal visage – a warning that this self-styled messiah means business.

~ Tim Robey; Daily Telegraph

 

Just a quick note because I have to get to work: very well done, definitely worth your time to see on the big screen. Not much graphic violence, not much sex, great cast (except Gwyneth Paltrow, and she is fine, not good, but OK)

Robert Downey Jr owns this movie, as usual.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 94%; Users 87%

MoZella: I Will (2006)

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MoZella

I Will

Love this album; she is sassy, the lyrics are punchy…or sweet…or both. You can definitely hear the Detroit in her voice, listen on MySpace.

Track listings as follows:

You Wanted Itmy video
Love Is Something
Killing Time – a little rap, a little back beat, a lot of melody and a splash of sass
I Will – sexy and romantic
Amnesia – this is the song that first caught my attention, and ultimately the reason I bought the album. My video & the official video
Can’t Stop – sultry
Messiahmy video
Last $20 – sounds like it comes from experience
Going Home – close to home
What To Say – yeah, also close to home
Light Years Away – she’s getting over it and moving on

I don’t think this is a style that will go over with most of my circle; too spunky for some, too melodic and lyric driven for others. It is part of my permanent rotation on the MP3 player because I love it, but only gets 3 1/2 because I don’t have enough friends to recommend it to (but I made sure those that might be interested gave her a listen).

Amazon: 4.5 stars

Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

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Pursuit of Happyness

Will Smith stars in the inspirational true story of Chris Gardner, a San Francisco salesman who’s struggling to make ends meet. When his girlfriend Linda (Thandie Newton) walks out, Chris is left to raise their 5-year-old son Christopher (Jaden Smith) on his own. Chris’ determination finally pays off when he lands an unpaid internship in a brutally competitive stockbroker-training program, where only one in twenty interns will make the cut. But without a salary, Chris and his son are evicted from their apartment and are forced to sleep on the street, in homeless shelters and even behind the locked doors of a metro station bathroom. With self- confidence and the love and trust of his son, Chris Gardner rises above his obstacles to become a Wall Street legend.

~ from Amazon

 

One of my favorite movies from 2006, and one of the best performances from that year, as well. Truly, if not for The Last King of Scotland, Will Smith would have been the clear favorite at Oscar time. I loved the plot driven movie with a strong message of hope and personal responsibility, and the interaction between Smith and his real life son was quite believable and moving. Perhaps a bit too syrupy for some, I non-the-less recommended this to almost everyone in my circle.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 65%; Users 88%

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