Thursday, November 17, 2011

How to watch movies in Florida: Spies, bards and twisters!

By now, some of you may be wondering if I took a vacation from this blog. I can't blame you for thinking so. I took a vacation not only from this blog, but from life altogether, spending a lot of time in Florida with weddings on back to back weekends. I really need to convince my family and friends to marry in close proximity more often.

One reason I haven't been posting much lately is that the movies simply haven't been all that interesting this fall, even for a buff like me. In fact, the movies I saw Florida mostly continued the  lackluster trend.

J. Edgar: Here's a rare disappointment from director Clint Eastwood. I had greatly looked forward to this biopic on the longstanding and long notorious director of the FBI, because Eastwood can excel at period detail and historical sweep (see Letters from Iwo Jima), but this time the result is a tone-deaf misfire that's more along the lines of the middling Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It's not a complete loss; Leonardo DiCaprio's comitted performance in the lead makes the film quite watchable. But whenever the picture tries to deal with the seamier side of Hoover (repressed homosexuality, trasvestism) it feels strained and over the top. Dustin Lance Black's jumbled script bites off more than it can chew, and Eastwood's usual confidence falters. GRADE: C+

Anonymous: When I learned that master of disaster Roland Emmerich was making a Shakespeare movie, about a dozen question marks/exclamation points danced around my head. The idea seemed so bizarre, I couldn't resist checking the film out. And here's what's really strange: For one very brief moment, I thought "Wow - is Roland Emmerich going to outdo Clint Eastwood?"  Oh HELL no. Silly critic! Sure, the opening is a grabber, as we transition from a Broadway stage to the Elizabethan age. I felt transported, in more ways than one. After, the opening, sadly, the picture goes to pot, jumping back and forth in time like a flux capacitor with a short circuit. I got completely lost, and worse yet, didn't particularly care that I was lost. For all of Emmerich's efforts to step outside his comfort zone, his movie still left me with question marks and exclamation points dancing around my head. GRADE: D+

Take Shelter: Thankfully, the third movie turned out to be the charm. Michael Shannon once again excels playing an oddball, but what makes this film so intriguing is that it leaves one wondering just how much of an oddball he really is. He's not a bad man - he's a devoted husband and father. However, he becomes obsessed with strange apocalyptic visions and becomes convinced a literal storm is on its way. Even though he's already in a financially precarious position, he thinks he must complete an underground storm shelter. Is he really crazy (mental illness does run in his family) or is he strangely prescient? The movie is a touch too emotionally chilly, but overcoming that is a fine performance from Jessica Chastain, who is having a banner year with The Tree of Life and The Help already on her resume. GRADE: B+


Zack said...

Without spoiling anything, what'd you think of the ending of TAKE SHELTER?

Sir Critic said...

Worked for me. Thought it made for a nice "Lady or the tiger" type-ending - one in which a number of interpretations could be correct.