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MATT AT
THE
MOVIES
Matt's Ultra-Complicated Rating System:

GO! I can recommend this movie without reservation
CAUTION I liked this movie a lot, but you should check it out before deciding.
STOP! This movie is unworthy of your attention.
YIELD There is merit here;  I just wasn't a big fan--and I'll tell you why.
Matt's Top 10
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True Grit In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you that I brought a LOT of emotional baggage to this movie.  Seeing
the god-awful original was either THE last or one for the last things my family did as a cohesive unit before the divorce.  My
most vivid memory of the movie was listening to my father snore through most of it.  When the girl fell in the snake pit, my
mother jumped--causing my father to wake up screaming like white trash at a tent meeting.  I think I hated almost everything
about the movie--John Wayne (not so much him, but the way everything else in the movie was subverted to make the movie
even more about him); Glen Campbell, who was game but lost in his first movie role; and especially Kim Darby, who bore as
much resemblance to a 14-year-old girl as I do now.  So when I heard that the Coen brothers were remaking it, I wondered if
I'd be able to drag my butt to the theater to see it.  Well, I did, and I'm so glad I did.  It's one of the best movies of the year.  I
haven't read Charles Portis' book, but I have to believe that this movie is more true to it than the earlier version.  At the very
least, you're led to believe that the title refers to the girl, not Rooster Cogburn.  Like the best actors do, Jeff Bridges and Matt
Damon disappear into their roles, and newcomer Hallie Steinfield shines as Mattie.  The biggest surprise is how
funny the movie
is.  Nobody ever laughed at the Duke.  Check it out.  (12/31/2010)

The King's Speech   is extraordinary.  Colin Firth is being rightly praised for his performance as the man who would become
Edward VIII.  His performance is remarkable.  However, it's Geoffrey Rush as his speech coach and Helena Bonham Carter as
his wife (the future Queen Mum) who gives the movie its heart.  In a day when movies are remarkable when there is one
outstanding performance, The King's Speech is blessed to have three.  (12/31/2010)    

The Tourist "So.  You spent $20 million on plastic surgery, and THAT'S the face you came up with?"  So ends The Tourist.   
To avoid spoiling the movie for you, I won't tell you who says it to whom at the end.  It's one of the great last lines--maybe not
up there with "Frankly my deal, I don't give a damn," but up there somewhere.  Unfortunately, it's much better than the
hundreds of lines of dialogue which precede it.  The good news is that this is not a movie that one listens to--one watches it to
see beautiful people--and Johnny Depp, if you want to put him in that category--sashaying around Paris and Venice.  It's
ravishing--or "ravenous" if you believe Mr. Depp, who seems to think the two words are synonymous.  Not much happens and
not much is at stake (the evildoer must be apprehended because he hasn't paid his taxes), but in this case, seeing Angelina Jolie
channeling Sophia Loren is its own reward.  (12/13/2010)

Cairo Time is Patricia Clarkson's movie--which is both its strength and weakness.  She is an exceptional actress.  Over
Thanksgiving, I had the chance to see
Pieces of April with Katie Holmes again, and I saw again that Ms. Clarkson as her
cancer-stricken mother stole the movie. She is no less fine here.  The only problem I had with the new movie is that she brings
the slow-motion, zonked-out vibe she had as a cancer patient to her new role.  Ostensibly, she's in Cairo to meet her husband,
who runs a settlement in Gaza for the UN.  We hear that there is some sort of problem at the settlement and that the husband
may or may not be in danger.  Either way, it's okay with Ms. Clarkson.  She just sort of glides around Cairo, seeing the sights
and kind of flirting with Tareq, who may or may not be her husband's associate.  (He claims to be retired, but he always seems
to know more about whatever's going on that you might expect from the average retiree.)  He also glides around town in a
semi-blissful state.  At one point in the movie, Ms. Clarkson does or does not get into some sort of nebulous trouble after
befriending an Arab woman on a bus.  Like everything else, it's hard to tell.  You may not be able to guess, but I really did like
this movie  a lot.  It made me want to go to Cairo--which is something I'd never really considered before.  (12/10/2010)

The Joneses  A propos of nothing, this movie reminded me of Bree Sharp's great song, David Duchovny.  Check it out
sometime.  In this flimsy bit of fluff, Mr. Duchovny plays the dad of a family move to an upscale suburb (like The Country
Club of the South in Atlanta, where the movie was filmed) befriend the neighbors, and soon become the poster children for
conspicuous consumption.  Something is clearly not right with this family.  They're a faux family--placed in the McMansion
purposefully by  a marketing firm to influence their neighbors, friends and schoolmates to purchase specific products that
reflect the lifestyle to which they aspire--stuff like golf clubs, Audis and frozen sushi.  If you can get past the notion that this is
really not an effective way to market a product, it's an interesting premise.  The Joneses are very good and convincing their
neighbors to buy stuff they don't need and can't afford, that the poor schmuck next door kills himself by driving his new riding
mower in to the swimming pool after realizing that his credit cards are maxed out and there's no hope of paying them off.  At
this point, the movie becomes even less believable and eventually unravels altogether.  But it does make you wonder what it
could have been.  (12/3/2010)

Morning Glory   The folks who made this movie knew that all they had to do to make a watchable movie was put a camera in
front of Rachel McAdams or Diane Keaton and let it record whatever happens.  What happens in
Morning Glory isn't much, but
it's not unpleasant.   The story of the movie is about how the star power of a world -famous reporter who has been there and
done that (Harrison Ford) can rejuvenate a stale morning news program.  Coincidentally,
Morning Glory itself is a exposition of
star power (Ford, Keaton, McAdams) bringing a tired rom-com to life.    (11/15/2010)

Skyline   This movie looks great and starts promisingly.  Aesthetically-challenged aliens (for the purposes of future discussion,
extra-terrestrials are good; aliens are evil.)  land on the West Side of Los Angeles and start harvesting humans for purposes that
are presumed to be nefarious.  There are great shots of hundreds of  bodies floating through the air to the ships.  We are
presented with a small group of wealthy slackers for whom we are supposed to care.  Unfortunately, none of the members of
the group exhibit any human emotions that make them an asset to the planet.  They flail around for a couple of days, trying to
escape the clutches of the aliens, and then something strange happens--the movie ends.  The folks who made this movie took a
big gamble in hoping that the audience will want to know what happens next.  I think they're going to be sorely
disappointed--even more disappointed than the audience leaving the theatres thinking they'd been played. (11/14/2010)

Due Date  Just to show you how fickle some people can be, a couple paragraphs down from here, I practically rave about how
great I think Zach Galifiniakis is in
It's Kind of a Funny Story.  Now, I'm going to tell you that you can indeed have too much of
a good thing, and that a little of Mr. Galifiniakis goes a long, long way.  Of course, in
Funny Story, he's a featured player; in Due
Date
, he's in every damn scene.  I guess you could say that it's a cross between The Hangover and Planes, Trains and
Automobiles
.  For reasons too contrived to relate here, Galifiniakis and Robert Downey, Jr., are thrust together for a cross
country road trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles. (Happily, Mississippi is spared as either a scene of a crime or an object of
ridicule.)  There's not a lot that's original going on here, so if you get the feeling that you've seen this movie before, you have.  
(11/8/10)

Hereafter   Clint Eastwood is nothing if not fearless as a director.  In the past couple of years, he's made movies about Iwo
Jima (from both the Japanese and American angles), the live of Nelson Mandela, and now--death.  I liked this movie quite a lot,
but it will probably be the first Eastwood film in  along time that won't appear on my "ten favorite" list at the end of the year.  
For while his reach is indeed impressive, I think that it exceeds his grasp in this particularly movie.  I think that Mr. Eastwood is
trying to tell three stories at once in a compelling manner.  That's tough.  And mostly, he succeeds.  It helps that, as usual, he is
working with some of the most empathetic actors in the world.  Matt Damon and Cecile de France are known quantities, and
newcomer Frankie McLaren is excellent as a young Londoner trying to cope with reality of a nuclear family on the ropes.  Some
will find this movie to be a long slog with a contrived ending, but I liked it.  (10/25/10)

The Social Network First, I should say that I liked this movie--but I'm apprehensive about it.  I don't know how much I can
trust it to be a credible retelling of the early days of Facebook (all the way back in 2003.)  Why?  It doesn't help that several of
the key players have been paid tens of millions of dollars to keep the mouths shut about what really happened.  (I guess it's at
least something that the movie admits this.)  As a story of nerds generating fortunes out of mid-air, it's very nearly perfect.  
Mark Zuckerberg ( as portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg) is an insufferable creep, and he is surrounded by slightly more sufferable
creeps--notably Justin Timberlake as "the Real Napster" and Armie Hammer (great-grandson of the billionaire, Armand) as not
one, but two creeps who claim they had the original idea for Facebook--if not the technical expertise to make it happen.  
(Speaking of creeps, even Prince Albert and former Harvard president and Obama advisor Larry Summers have roles in the
movie.)  The movie has a few things to say about standing up for what you believe in, and that's good, but mostly, it's about a
bunch of jerks. (10/24/10)

Red should be more fun than it is, but it's still pretty swell.  It would have been nice to have more of Helen Mirren and Morgan
Freeman, who aren't around for nearly as long as I'd like, and a little Mary-Louise Parker goes a long, log way, but I still think
you'll have a good time at this movie.  As you probably know, it's based on some comic book characters, and RED is an
acronym for Retired, Extremely Dangerous.  I would be insulting your intelligence to try to tell you about the plot, so I'll get to
the point and say that the fun to be had here is in watching real movie stars do what real movie stars do--shine and make their
work look effortless.  And they do. (10/18/2010)

Jackass 3-D  Warning:  If you're planning to see this movie, arrive at the theatre early so that you can get a seat close to the
exit nearest the restrooms.  If you're at all inclined to "sympathy vomiting"--wanting to throw up when watching others are
doing it--you're going to want to take my word for it on this.  On several occasions during the course of the movie, members of
the audience ran past me on the way to nearest toilet.  Clearly, nothing I can say will impact whether or not you decide you
want to see this movie.  You know the territory.  It is irrelevant that I laughed helplessly for 90 minutes as idiots used their
private parts as baseball bats, drank each other's sweat and allowed themselves to be attacked by snakes, rams, vicious dogs
and professional football players.  These guys have been doing this for ten years now, and the wear and tear is starting to
show.  But still, it's a great guilty pleasure.  Although it's rated R, don't even think of taking a child to this movie--or a date--or
an older person.  Come to think of it--just rent it and watch it at home by yourself.  (10/17/2010)

It's Kind of a Funny Story I wish I were a better writer, so that I could do a better of job of making you want to see this
movie.  The movie's director has said that his vision was rooted i
n The Breakfast Club.  I can see that.  It's certainly more
attuned  to the John Hughes vibe than, say,
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.  The protagonist is a typical 16-year-old-kid who
frankly doesn't seem to be sufficiently disturbed to be suicidal--but, for conversational purposes, let's say he is.  So he checks
himself into a mental hospital.  I didn't know that a 16-year-old could do that, but again, let's say he can.  The teenage ward is
being renovated, so he's put into the adult population where meets patients who are not nearly as threatening as you're used to
seeing in movies about mental wards.  There's a cute girl (of course), and a mysterious guy who's there to keep the plot
moving.  That person is played by Zach Galifianakis, who is wonderful here.  He wasn't what I liked best about
The Hangover,
and frankly, I never expected to see him toiling outside of the Judd Apatow-hideous HBO comedy ghetto, but he turns in a
wonderful performance in the movie that I'll remember at the end of the year when I'm wondering who to nominate for Best
Supporting Actor. (10/12/2010)

Easy A For those of you who have been wondering what the future holds without Lindsay Lohan, fear not.  I have the seen the
future, and it si Emma Stone.  Ms. Stone's utterly charming presence makes this otherwise forgettable lump something that
you're happy to see.  There are some good supporting performances by Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley
Tucci, Lisa Kudrow, Amanda Bynes and some terrific younger actors, but this is Ms. Stone's show, and she does not
disappoint.  (9/28/2010)

You Again is the early favorite for Worst Movie of the Year.  How could such a talented group of women made such an awful
mess.  (9/28/2010)

A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop is a remake of the Coen Brothers' classic Blood Simple.  Or so it claims.  I guess there
are similarities in the plot, but no one could possibly confuse the two.  (9/27/2010)

Catfish would have you believe that it's a movie that Hitchcock would have made if he'd access to social media.  The ads for
the movie implore the reader not to give away the final forty minutes.  Puh-leez.    Anyone who's ever spent nine seconds on
Facebook can see this movie coming from a mile away.  There's no one here to identify with--no one really perpetrates anything
too evil (or interesting), and the "victim" is kind of a pill.  The only point of interest in the entire movie is finding out --much,
much too late--where the title comes from.  (9/27/201
0)

The Town,
The American and The Takers are essentially the same movie.  In each, a handsome but evil--but not too evil guy
(Ben Affleck, George Clooney and Paul Walker, respectively) falls in with a bad crowd.  As the movie plays out , the
no
t-too-evil guy tries to keep an even-more-evil guy from being even more evil.  In each case, the not-too-evil guy succeeds in
his task, gets the girl and moves on.   And, of course, the even-more-evil guy dies a horrible death.  As you can probably tell, I
didn't like any of these movies very much, but if you're determined to see one of them, I'd go wit
h The Town.  Ben Affleck,
who also directs the movie does a nice job of making the Charles Town Community of Boston something of a character in the
movie.  Besides the obligatory shootout at the end of the movie takes place in Fenway Park, rather than a random Tuscan town
or the streets of Los Angeles.
(The Takers is so creatively bankrupt that it just stole the entire scene from The Italian Job in
which an armored car is hijacked by blowing a crater in the street beneath it.   Didn't they think anyone would notice?
At least they blew up a different street.  Criminy.)  9/26/2010

The Last Exorcism   didn't suck.  It wasn't remotely scary, but it did have a couple of things going for it that kept you
interested.  Patrick Fabian as the exorcist (not that you care, but he also played a minister in one of my favorite episodes o
f
Reba
) and Ashley Bell as the excorcee were good, and the it's certainly an advance from The Blair Witch Project, to which this
movie owes its existence. (I was toying with the idea of calling i
t The Belle Chasse Witch Project but thought better of it.)  
Playing with the premise that "the greatest trick that Satan ever played on humanity is convincing us that he doesn't exist," the
movie encourages the audience to wink with it at all the fake exorcisms (and fake exorcism movies) we've seen in the past.  We
nod and laugh as we watch the exorcist line up his props for the ceremony.  But something is clearl
y not right about this teenage
girl, and what you think about what is not right reflects the degree to which you'll probably enjoy the movie. I wasn't  
"horr-fied", but I kind of liked it.  (9/14/2010)

The Girl Who Played With Fire After reading three books and watching two movies, the Summer of Lisbeth Salander  finally
came to an end last night.  The first two Swedish movies
(The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest turns up in America later this
fall) have been just fine, and I'm especially impressed with Noomi Rapace, the fine Swedish actress who plays Lisbeth. The first
movie
(The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was actually better than fine.  It was excellent.  See below.)  I can't imagine what
Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara think they will be able to bring to the material when the movie gets remade for people who are
too lazy to read subtitles.  More importantly, I'll be sorry if the story loses its essential Swedishness.  No part of reading the
books or watching the movies has made me want to visit  Sweden or learn more about it, but I respect that the culture seems to
make sense to the people who live there,and I'd hate for that to get lost in an anglicized movie.  I
f The Girl Who Played with
Fi
re wasn't as good as the first movie, I think it's because the second two books of the Millennium Trilogy weren't nearly as
good as the first.  In this movie, the filmmakers have thrown out the first 200 pages of the book because nothing happens.  
Frankly, not a whole lot happens in the second half of the book either, but the filmmakers have managed to distill it into a
compelling narrative.  In short, the movie is as good as it can be if it is to remain faithful to its source.  (8/30/2010)

The Switch I've said it in the past--although maybe not this year--that Jason Bateman is one of, if not the most likeable actor in
movies today.  While "likeable" may sound like damning with faint praise, it's nothing to sneeze at, especially if you're a hot mess
lik
e The Switch.   Speaking of hot messes, Jennifer Aniston is getting the lion's share of the publicity for the movie, but Mr.
Bateman and a wonderful child actor who plays his son carry most of the movie.  The plot isn't quite as insulting to your
intelligence as you might expect, and the charm of the leads keeps you from getting up to check out what else might be playing
at the multiplex.  (8/21/2010)

The Expendables I don't know where to start.  If I told you what the plot was, you'd laugh in my face.  Clearly there are two
reasons to see this movie: 1) to watch things blow up--and they do--a lot; and 2) to laugh at Sylvester Stallone for thinking that
he could pull something like this off shortly before his 70th birthday--and he does indeed look like death chewing on a cracker.  
For the more esoteric of you, we have Mickey Rourke as a poet/tattoo artist.  Great googly moogly.  If you're reading this in
Louisiana, it's probably worth your while to see the movie because no movie has taken greater liberties with New Orleans sinc
e
The Big Ea
sy.  The characters live in downtown New Orleans.  We know this because they're on Tchoupitoulas Street every
time they pull out of their garage--not th
e same place on Tchoupitoulas Street every time, but on the street. However, the shot
that establishes where they are in the world is a stunning nighttime shot of the State Capitol--in Baton Rouge.  I guess we should
just be thankful that it didn't get blown up as well.  (8/20/2010)

Dinner for Schmucks This is the third movie in about the last three months that I've dragged myself to theater to see, simply
because Steve Carell is in it.   It's not nearly as good a
s Date Night or Despicable Me, and I guess I have to give him credit for
trying different kinds of roles.  However, on the basis of this mess, I'd advise him against playing schmucks in the future.  The
movie tries way too hard to be both outrageous and charming, and I'm sorry to be the one to have to say it, but there's just no
way those to notions can coexist.  The result is smarmy and creepy.  Only too late did I realize that the director of this movie
also did th
e Austin Powers movies.   In other words, if you liked Fat Bastard and Goldmember, you might like this.  (7/31/2010)

Salt is just as messy and unrealistic as Inception, so why am I recommending it?  For the simple reason that YOU WANT TO
BELIEVE that this incarnation of Angelina Jolie could--just possibly--be a real person.  There is nothing that's really believable
going on here, but we're interested, because Ms. Jolie and Liev Schreiber make us want to now more about their characters,
whereas Leonardo and the rest of his Ninja Turtles just don't.  Maybe they're just better actors.  (7/29/2010)

Inception People (and by that, I mean "movie critics") have been swooning (and by that, I mean "lying") about Inception.  
Actually, I think a writer for one of the papers in London said it best when he said, "people have had it with reality."  A
nd
Incepti
on is their movie.  There's practically nothing (and by that, I mean "nothing") that bears resemblance either to the laws of
physics or human nature.  That's not necessarily a bad thing--unless you're looking for a movie about real people.  The best
fantasy provides the viewer with some connection to his or her--or anyone's life.  You don't get that here.  On a comic book
level, it exceptional.  Otherwise, it just a mess.  (7/27/2010)

Despicable Me I'm probably being too curmudgeonly about this movie.  I liked it a lot, but I can't say that I'm completely sold
on it.  For one thing, huge chunks of it seem to be ripped directly from other, better movies lik
e The Incredibles and Up.   (One
particular scene in which a cranky old man stands on the wing of an airplane and yells to a child, "Jump! I'll catch you!" should
have the Pixar folks speed dialing their attorneys.)  But there is also much to admire.  When the chief baddie, voiced by Steve
Carrell, yells, "Assemble the minions!" the movie becomes witty and fun as dozens (hundreds?) of little yellow Pez-like creatures
in overalls take over the movie and make it seem fresh and new.  The minions don't speak any recognizable language, but you
know what they're thinking.  They love Gru (Carrell), and he knows them all by name and asks them about their families.  Later,
when some random orphans show up and a woefully misconceived idea for stealing the moon (yeah, that moon) gets into gear,
things become much more ordinary and predictable.  I think you'll like it--even if you think you've seen it before. (7/11/2010)

Eclipse   First, I think I owe an apology to my fellow audience members who watched the movie with me in the theater.  I
swear I thought it was a comedy.  I laughed loudest when a teenage girl planning her high school graduation said, "How many
times do you graduate from high school?" What made the line funny was that she was saying it to a 110-year-old vampire
named Edward who finally getting around to graduating.  Really.  So.  We're to believe that this guy was in high school for
something li
ke 90 years.  Either having to go to night school really slowed him down, or he's the stupidest vampire ever. What
am I missing?  Clearly, one of the things I'm NOT missing is that I am not the target demographic for this movie.  That would
have been the teenage girls who were glowering at me while I was laughing and making cracks about the ridiculousness of it
all.  Not that anyone needs me to tell them, but the movie's central character is the teenage girl about whom the universe
revolves.  All the boys in her world are hot, and all they want to do is protect her.  Rival teenage girls are non-existent.  Parents
are ridiculous creatures who have nothing to add to her maturation process.  The most authoritative being that can be imagined
is the leader of the governing council (or whatever) of vampires.  That role in the movie is played by
--wait for it--Dakota
Fanning.  
I still don't know why I was the only one laughing  (7/5/2010)

Knight and Day   For those of you who pooh-pooh Tom Cruise and are apparently waiting for a thinking-person's action hero,
I have an upsetting message-- There. Is. No. Such. Thing.  We love Tom Cruise--and Cameron Diaz--because of who we think
they are, not who they can try to make us believe they are.
Knight and Day is about the star power of two of our favorite movie
stars.  Period.  For about two hours, they delight us with unbelievable situations and goofy dialogue, but that's okay with us
because we like being in their company.  Is that so wrong?  (6/30/2010)

Toy Story 3 Facebook Stalking = Death by Monkeys.  Pass it on.  (There's no point in telling you what I thought about the
movie--although I did like it a lot.  You're either going to see it without any input from me, or you're going to avoid it like the
plague.  In the meantime, much like one of the Plastics i
n Mean Girls who kept trying to "make 'fetch' happen," I'm trying to
make
"Facebook Stalking = Death by Monkeys" happen.   It's a long story.   (6/27/2010)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
I just read that this Swedish film is going to be remade with an American cast.  And I can
only ask, "Why?  Are subtitles THAT hard to read?"  This is perfectly fine, perfectly understandable film that seems to fit it
Scandinavian milieu just fine.  If they plop it down in California or New York, it won't lose much, but it will seem to be
redundant.  This is alleged to be the most popular book in the world right now,so I won' t bore you with too many plot details.  
A middle-aged, mid-career journalist is convicted of slandering some muckety-muck.  While the case is on appeal, he takes a job
of trying to solve a 40-year-old mystery about a wealthy young woman who disappeared off the street one day and was
presumed murdered.  In his quest, he is befriended (to his surprise) by a 20-something computer genius with a passion for
justice and sticking her nose into where it doesn't belong.  And yes, she has a dragon tattoo.  It's an absorbing story (even if you
have to read the subtitles from time to time), and I urge you check it out before some Hollywood studio wrecks it.  (6/21/2010)

Joan Rivers:  A Piece of Work Yes, she is.  That's why you won't mind watching a movie about her that runs to about two
hours.  This is not the most perceptive bio-pic ever made, but it is very revealing about who the woman is and how she lives her
life.  Frankly, for me, that was close enough.  If you like Joan, check it out.  If you don't, you won't find much that will make
you become a fan.  (6/20/2010)

Please Give confirms the worst suspicions that snarky conservatives like me have about bleeding heart liberals.  In this movie,
Catherine Keener plays a West Side Manhattanite who can't resist the urge to pass along a couple of bucks to anyone she sees
on the street who looks like they're down and out--even if the object of her sympathy is merely a badly dressed black man
waiting for a table at an al fresco restaurant.   Her husband/business partner screws around on her (with Amanda Peet--sweet!),
and her teenage daughter is--well, a teenager.   The family is waiting for the 92-year-old next-door neighbor to die in the
apartment they own so that they can knock out the walls and expand.  The old woman (she ain't no lady) is staffed by her
granddaughters who have their own issues.  It's one of those movies where nothing happens for a long time--then it does, and it
turns out to be not such a big deal.  People who might like this move more than I do would probably call it "well observed."  It
probably is.  (6/19/2010
)

Shrek Forever After owes me.   The primary pleasure I derived from this move was the promise that it was absolutely,
positively the last one.  (And if anyone from DreamWorks is reading this, if you screw me over and make another, I'll never
forgive you.)  Based on persistence alone, how could Shrek NOT be
green?   Think of it as Shrek's Life Achievement Award.  
Having said that, it's time for this franchise to go far, far away. It's been bled like a turnip, and every possible laugh has been
wrung out of it--and that's before it turns into the ogre version o
f It's a Wonderful Life.
I know that you will or will not see the movie regardless of what I say, and that's fine.  However, if Rumpelstiltskin offered me
a deal to go back in time, I think I'd take my Sunday afternoon back and wait for this flick to show up on TBS.  (5/25/1
0)

Iron Man 2   could have had a subtitle, "Bigger, Longer, Louder."   All that, yes, but sadly not "better"--or even as good as its
predecessor.   The only things keeping me from
redlining this movie altogether are Scarlett Johannsen and Samuel L. Jackson,
who seem to be visiting from a more interesting movie.  Even by summer blockbuster standards, the premise is
preposterous--actually there are several premises, and they're all preposterous.  In the first five minutes, we're asked to believe
that Iron Man is dying of blood poisoning.  Really.  So what are the odds that's going to happen?  Then we're subjected to the
goofiest bunch of evildoers since Drew Barrymore played either Sugar or Spice in one of the Batman movies.  Sam Rockwell
and Mickey Rourke, who seems to thrive on dreck, are embarrassments.  Mr. Rourke, at least, provides the biggest mystery in
the movie:  Is he wearing make-up, or is this just the way he looks these days?  (5/11/10)

Date Night   Few actors can elevate bad material like Steve Carrell and Tina Fey.  (If you don't believe me, prop up your eyelids
with some toothpicks and try to stay awake during the British version o
f The Office.)  Sadly, all they can do for Date Night is
elevate dreadful material to regrettable.  They play a uptight New Jersey couple who want to go to Tribeca for a night on the
town--with predictably contrived results.  There are a few yuks along the way.  Carrell and Fey do their best, but you can't help
thinking what might have been.  (4/26/10)

The Hurt Locker   Well, this is awkward.  What am I supposed to say about a movie that's already won the Academy Award
for Best Picture of 2009--other than it would have been nice if its original run in Jackson had been more than two weeks?  I
could say that this movie would have made an outstanding program on The History Channel--except for the fact that some of
the guys who actually do defuse bombs in Iraq don't think it's very realistic.  Clearly, I have no way of judging, but I thought it
was fine until about halfway through when Lord Voldimort, i.e., Ralph Fiennes, showed up in a role so minor and so
unconvincing that I honestly think I could have played it myself.  The theme of the movie is that "war is a drug," and the writer
and director make the point eloquently.  A soldier who has defused almost 900 bombs in one undesirable country after another
has completed his service and is shipped home to the USA, where he's confounded by the bewildering number of choices on the
cereal aisle in the grocery store.  Although I'm pleased that our soldiers are treated with the respect the deserve, I just don't
think this a Best Picture.   (4/4/10)

Clash of the Titans Hundreds of years ago, I saw the Harryhausen movie that this is based on and made a fool of myself by
telling people that the Titans were long gone before the era in which this movie took place, and there were no Titans in the
movie.  (Yes, I've been running fool's errands all my life.)  Well, they're not in this movie, either, nor is what little fun there was
to be had in the original version.  If anything, it looks like the videogame version--which I'm sure it will be.  Sam Worthington is
the best thing in the movie, but that's not saying much.  I'm getting kind of bored with Mr. Sam.  After
, Terminator III, Avatar
and now this epic schlockfest, I'm curious to know how he would present himself on film as a real person. (4/3/10)

Hot Tub Time Machine or, as one of the characters says, "It's like a hot tub time machine!"   Well, what do you expect when
Chevy Chase is your handyman?  I didn't love this movie as much a
s The Hangover or I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, but I
almost did.  It's one gross-out joke after another, but they come so fast, that you can't take too much offense.  Don't even think
about taking children.  (They'd get embarrassed having to explain things to you, and you'd get even more embarrassed by having
to ask.)  4/2/10

Dream Boy (SPOILER ALERT: This movie will NEVER play in a theater near you, so I'm going to spill more of it than I would
ordinarily.)  About three years ago, a friend in Baton Rouge told me he would be in this movie.  (And he is--for about ten
seconds.)  It was filmed mostly in the St. Francisville area--more about this later.  The settings look great.  What's wrong is just
about everything else.  The movie tries but fails to mix the genres of ghost stories and soft gay porn.  Two sensitive high school
boys who take off their shirts and paw at each other until one of them eventually gets raped and murdered.  He then becomes
the pokiest, most shiftless ghost you've ever seen.  After an hour or so of looking at things that don't make much sense, I
started TRYING to find the things that didn't make sense.  For example, one of the kids is a senior in high school and also
drives the school bus every day.  What kind of school system lets students drive buses?  The characters state clearly that they
live in St. Francisville, but the school bus the kid is driving says "St. Patrick Parish School District."  Apparently, the folks in
West Feliciana Parish took a stand against student bus drivers.  (4/1/10
).

The Ghost Writer   Last month, I had an opportunity to catch Chinatown during the 31 Days of Oscar, and It was like
catching up with an old friend I hadn't seen in 25 years.  I never thought it was the classic that others have because, frankly, I
just don't like Faye Dunaway as much as other people do.  But there's no one who can tell a story of absolute power corrupting
absolutely like Roman Polanski.  He did it masterfully i
n Chinatown, and he does it competently in The Ghost Writer.  And here's
something that Roman Polanski knows that you don't: despite what they tell you on CNN, Europeans are fascinated by
Americans.  It's too bad that Mr. Polanski can't come to America to make movies like this one because we are his milieu, and
his work suffers when he tries for similar effects elsewhere.  In this movie, he gets excellent work from his cast, notably Ewan
McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall (really) and Olivia Williams.  The plot, which confirms the worst fears of Euro lefties
about Americans, is solid.  Brosnan plays a former British prime minister--let's call him Tony Blair--who is so unpopular in the
UK that  he has to come to Martha's Vineyard to write his memoirs.   Along for the ride are his wife (Williams), secretary
(Cattrall) and ghost writer (McGregor).  In the process of writing the politician's story, McGregor finds evidence that  
throughout his political career, Bla--I mean, Brosnan has been a CIA puppet.  (If only the CIA could manage American
politicians as well.)  Mayhem ensues.  Except for the woeful decision to film the story on the northern coast of Germany, which
bears about as much resemblance to New England as Algeria, this is a terrific movie.  (3/22/2010
)

Alice in Wonderland So many questions, such short paragraphs.  I may come back to it later, but  I'm punting on this movie
because I suspect I might not have seen the movie that you have or will.  The 3D version that I saw was so dim that you'd
swear they'd put a 40-watt bulb in the projector, and the glasses made the movie even darker and harder to watch.  And this is a
movie doesn't need a bit of help in terms of being hard to watch.  The art direction was above average, but it suffers from
following so closely
on Avatar.  Johnny Depp rises to the material and does a wonderful job, but his fellow actors seem to have
been told only to act crabby.  Thirteen years after the original story, Alice makes her second visit to the dark, oppressed world
whose real name is Underland.  People are so generally irritable (and irritating) that at one point, some character (I forget who)
says that he couldn't understand why Alice would have called the place "Wonderland" after her first visit.  Amen to that.  
(3/7/10)

Valentine's Day Well, when it comes to special effects, Avatar has nothing on Valentine's Day.  Avatar may have 3D and
other bells and whistles, b
ut Valentine's Day (VD for short) comes equipped with its very own Greek chorus in the form of a
large woman who sat behind me in the theatre.  When a cute kid did something, she sighed; when Bradley Cooper finally got
home to his valentine (a guy), she booed; when Jennifer Garner decided after all that Ashton Kutcher was the guy for her, she
gave an "Alright!"  I'm willing to concede that it's possible that this feature wasn't available in every theatre showing the movie,
but it did enhance the experience
. VD is criticism-proof.  It's got a gazillion stars, and if you're annoyed--for example--that
Jessica Biehl plays a woman who "can't get a date" for Valentine's Day, just wait. Soon enough, Topher Grace and Anne
Hathaway will do something adorable.  And on and on (and on) it goes.  For couples who went out to dinner on Valentine's Day
and forgot to order the soufflé dessert in advance, this movie would have been the perfect substitute.  (2/28/10)

Crazy Heart I did like this movie better than I thought I would.  Jeff Bridges is certainly the story here.  While he does nothing
to suggest that he was once at the top of the country music game, he's an excellent portrait of someone who, after thirty years
of hard drinking, has found the bottom.  This is a pretty slow telling of a rather mundane story. (One friend I saw it with fell
asleep--twice.)  Maggie Gyllenhall and Colin Farrell (for some reason) are getting a lot of good vibes from critics, but Jeff
Bridges is the real deal--although I'm sticking with my choice of Paul Giamatti as last year's Best Actor.   2/15/10
 

The Princess and the Frog
  A recent poll of 1.2 million Americans determined that--to no one's surprise, New Yorkers are
least happy of the 50 states and that the happiest Americans live in Louisiana.  Perhaps the Disney folks had this idea in mind
when they were deciding how to interpr
et The Princess and the Frog.  I can't say that I've ever read the Grimms' original tale,
but I'm pretty sure that it didn't include anything about trumpet-playing alligators, singing fireflies, toothless Cajuns,
voodoo-worshipping African-Americans--nor did it stand the history of race relations on its head.  But it was--and is--a fairy
tale, so I'm cutting it some slack.  There were a couple of laugh-out-loud moments and the 2-D animation was outstanding.  
New Orleans never looked better.   (1/24/10).     

The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond True Confession: My gayest experience in a movie theatre was watching Jackass.  I don't
know why I thought that watching guys strip, brand their private parts, shave their pubic hair to make a beard, etc., was so
funny, but I laughed like crazy.  I would have to say that my second gayest experience was watching a scene in this movie in
which a young man thinks he's suspected of stealing the eponymous diamond at a party and demands to strip and be searched
to prove he's not the culprit.  At the same time Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Lange are in another part of the house talking
about how exceptional and brave they are.  While all  that was going on, I was thinking that I'd rather watch they guy being
strip-searched.  This movie is woeful in all its particulars.  First and foremost, there's a reason that Tennessee Williams put this
play in a drawer and forgot about it after he wrote it.  It bears no resemblance to any recognizable human behavior.  Bryce
Dallas Howard plays Fisher Willow as if she were the less interesting, less funny but equally dramatic sister of Karen Walker,
the overprivileged ditz secretary
on Will and Grace.  And to be fair, if I'm going to criticize Emily Blunt for being too old to play
The Young Victo
ria, the 29-year-old Ms. Howard is a bit long in the tooth to be playing a Memphis debutante.  I don't really
blame either Ms. Howard or Chris Evans, who plays the grandson of a former governor of Mississippi who "had a scholarship
at Ole Miss" who is now apparently doing nothing on a farm in the Delta and begging to be allowed to drop trou.  I think there's
an unwritten law that Tennessee Williams has to be played with equal parts of Margaret Mitchell and Bram Stoker.  This project
was trouble from the beginning, and I can't think of anything that could have saved it.  (1/23/10)

The Last Station  Helen Mirren is a wonder.  This is hardly news to moviegoers, especially those who remember her from The
Que
en a few years back.  But she just keeps rolling along.  Here she plays the wife of the dying Leo Tolstoy (an excellent
Christopher Plummer, who also keeps improving with age), who worries for the inheritance of her children as her husband
nears death and comes under the influence of his manager, played by Paul Giamatti, who has his own ideas about Tolstoy's
legacy.  To keep an eye on the Tolstoy family, Giamatti's character hires a new secretary for the aging author, in the person of
James McAvoy, who's been good in a couple of things recently, includ
ing The Last King of Scotland and Wanted.   It's a fine
movie, rich in detail, but in the end, you won't be able to take your eyes off Helen Mirren.  (1/19/10)

The Lovely Bones I'm guessing that people who read this book won't like the movie very much.  For one thing, actresses like
Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon have limited screentime and don't do much with what they have.  This suggests much bigger
parts that had been considerably cut.  Also, I've read that Susie Salmon's rape and death are depicted much less graphically than
they are in the book.  But.  I'm here to pass specious judgment on what's on the screen, not what isn't there.  And to that end, I
can say Saoirise Ronan is the new Jodie Foster.  Director Peter Jackson has made a wise choice by keeping his focus on Ms.
Ronan's Susie as she roams purgatory, or "the in-between" as it's called here, rather than focus on Ms. Weisz, Ms. Sarandon
and Mark Wahler and their domestic problems in the wake of their daughter's death.  Ms. Ronan is going to be a big star for as
long as she chooses to be one.  While this might not prove to be her best work, it will make you remember her for a long, long
time.  (1/17/10)

Nine   I put off seeing this movie as long as I could.  I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it very much, and I didn't.  But I did feel
compelled to see ti because I had actually attended the last performance of the most recent revival of the play on Broadway.  It
starred John Stamos and Mary Stuart Masterson, and I didn't much like it, either.  What I remembered mostly was a bunch of
beautiful women, standing around and sighing, "Guido, Guido."  That happens a lot in the movie as well.  Daniel Day-Lewis
does a serviceable job of making this material as sensible as anyone could, and it's always nice to see Sophia Loren, looking as
beautiful as ever.  The star-studded cast does the best they can with the instantly forgettable music, but ultimately, it's still a
bunch a beautiful women, standing around, sighing "Guido, Guido."  (1/15/10)

The Young Victoria Without the benefit of having seen the ads for this movie, can you picture in your mind what Queen
Victoria looked like when she was a teenager?  It's probably safe to say that hardly anyone can, which is what the makers of the
movie are counting on.  To be charitable, let's just say that as a teenager, the real Queen Victoria was no Emily Blunt.  Nor could
she be, as the real Emily Blunt is in her 30's.  This may sound like nitpicking, but it really goes to the heart of why I didn't like
this movie more than I did.  Emily Blunt plays an interesting and engaging young lady on the screen, and if you didn't know
better, you'd think she was the real thing.  But the events that happened in the movie happened to an unattractive and insecure
teenage girl, who probably had a rather different reaction to them than the perky and cute firebrand we see on the screen.  If
you can work your way through this drawback, you'd be like some of the folks in my audience who applauded at the end.  
While the movie was not expensive to make ($30-something million), it looks much more expensive.   Nothing really bad
happens to Victoria in the movie--her nine children, the death of Albert, and various empire-preserving wars all lie in the future
when this story ends.  There's not much to dislike--except the uncomfortable feeling that you're not getting the straight story
(1/4/10)

Precious   is based on the novel Push by Sapphire.  I know it's not fair, but I keep thinking about this movie in the context of
The Blind S
ide, which--unlike this movie-actually IS based on a true story.  Most of the tonier critics around think this movie is
more realistic than the true story of Michael Oher and the Touhy family.  That really irks me.  But enough about me.  Precious
is a unmarried teenage mother who suffers physical and mental abuse at the hands of her mother, well played by Mo' Unique,
and sexual abuse and rape by her father.  She dreams of a better life, but she can't imagine any way that such a life might
present itself to her.   Along her journey, she meets all the worst people in Harlem-and some of the best.  Once again, Mariah
Carey shines a low-key role that gives the audience a chance see behind  Mimi'
s Glitter-y facade.  Only a sadistic freak would
admit to "enjoying" this movie, but while it is heavy-handed at time, there is much to appreciate.  (1/2/10)

A Single Man Tom Ford is a famous fashion mogul.  That snippet of info is apparent in every frame of the first movie he has
directed.  Throughout the movie, the camera lingers over every stylish thing in his life--the glass house (gotta be a metaphor
from something), the clothes, the car, the young men he diddles.  The movie is about the year following the death of his lover.  
He hates his life and wants to end it.  The only things holding him back are his boozy neighbor Julianne Moore and the
occasional opportunity to connect (in a professorial way) with his English students.  Enter into this scenario young Nicolas
Hoult, last seen as the kid who pestered Hugh Grant
in About a Boy.  Now he's all grown up, buffed up, and ready to mingle.  
The rest of the story is as predictable as can be.  Colin Firth is getting a lot of Oscar buzz for this movie.  I'm not sure why.   I
think it's because people finally get to see Mr. Darcy  naked.   (Note to self:  This is probably NOT the movie to see if you ARE
a single man on New Years Eve.  1/1/10)
2010 MOVIE REVIEWS
Click here to see Matt's Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2010!