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The Wolf of Wall Street To use a word that's used 507 times in the movie (a record), here are 507 words that convey what I think of the movie:   
f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f***  
(12/30/2013)

Nebraska It's an understatement to say that this movie speaks to me where I live.  As the "owner" of an 89-year-old Alzheimer's patient myself, I
totally emphasize with Will Forte's character in this movie--the son of Bruce Dern, an addled Montana rancher who is thinks he's won a prize,
when in reality, he's misread a direct mail piece.  So they take a road trip to Nebraska, and along the way, they stumble into their lives.  Great
acting all around, but if Dern deserves to nominated for Best Actor, Forte deserves to be nominated for best Supporting Actor.  (12/29/2014)

Saving Mr. Banks In the last couple of days, I've seen some newspaper articles dumping on this movie because it paints a flattering picture of Walt
Disney.  (Maybe they arrived late or didn't notice that the movie was produced and released by something called The Walt Disney Company.)  
They carp that the movie didn't mention that Disney was a chain smoker who was tough on labor unions.  To which I can only wonder how that
knowledge could have enriched this movie--which is wonderful.  By now, you probably know that the movie is the story of P. L. Travers and her
encounter wit Disney as she contemplates the sale of her stories that would eventually be made into
Mary Poppins. Emma Thompson is
outstanding as Travers, and Tom Hanks is serviceable as Disney.  While it may not be the best movie I saw this year, it is by far the most
enjoyable..  (12/29/2013)

American Hustle purports to tell the story of the Abscam scandal in the disco 70's, in which the FBI attempts to entrap some New Jersey
politicians into taking bribes.  It's played as comedy--which means that: 1) the facts of the case are irrelevant; and 2) it's OK to disguise Christian
Slater, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner in weird hair-dos and pour Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence into gravity-defying, sequined gowns.  
As pure entertainment,
American Hustle is fine--just don't expect to learn anything.

Inside Llewyn Davis You never know what you're going to get with the Coen brothers.  In this case, you get a quietly spectacular movie about the
folk music scene in New York in the early 60's.  (In one scene, Bob Dylan is heard singing in a club but since he's nobody at the time, nobody
really listens to him.)  Llewyn--Oscar Isaac, whom I'd never heard of until I saw the movie but now know that I'll be seeing a lot of him in the
future--is a struggling singer who's trying to kickstart a career in show business, oblivious to the fact that within two years, the invasion led by The
Beatles would leave him and his ilk strewn in their wake.  He performs in dives, sleeps on borrowed couches, and bums money from practically
everyone he meets.  Carey Mulligan--whom I've never much liked in anything--is an ex-girlfriend who's moved on from him to greener pastures in
the form of Jim, a singer who's played by Justin Timberlake.  All she needs to complete her separation from Llewyn is $200 for an abortion.  
Llewyn is a miserable creature--and he shares his misery with everyone he meets.  Frankly, it's a miracle he has anyone in his life who's willing to
put up with him.  (12/28/2013)

Grudge Match If you're really in the spectacle of two 70-year-old men (Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro) in a boxing match, it's your life.  
But you were warned.  (12/26/2013)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty As a movie standing alone, it's probably fine.  But as a translation of the original Thurber story of the same name,
well, it's just not.  Ben Stiller is okay in the title role, and Shirley MacLaine as his mother is really kind of wonderful.  But Kristen Wiig is ill-used as
the object of his affection, and Adam Scott is aggressively annoying as his boss.  (12/25/2013)

Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas So it was the 80's, and I was at an AFOT (Atlantans Full of Themselves) party where I met this blue-eyed
blond guy who described himself as an African-Ameican.  Turns out he was from South Africa and his folks were on the run for being raging
racists.  Anyway, before he finds out where I'm from, he tells a joke that goes something like, "Do you know the best thing about Alabama?  It
separates us from Mississippi."  Naturally, I couldn't wait to tell him where I was from.  That same sensibility is in play in Tyler Perry's new Madea
movie, except that the AWOT POV is actually turned on the innocent bystanders in Alabama.  Clearly, no one associated with this movie has even
been to Alabama since the 60's.  If I were an Alabaman,I'd consider suing Mr. Perry for defamation.  If you're a regular visitor to this page, you
know I've been a Madea fan for a long time.  Usually, these movies are fairly clever and are fairly uplifting.   This one is just lazy--and very
disappointing.  (12/15/2013)

The Book Thief   He's back!  After four decades in the wilderness (so to speak), DEATH is working again.  He was big in the Ingmar Bergman
and Woody Allen movies of the 70's, but for the past 40 years or so, he's been slumming in endless repeats of
The Family Guy.  But in the new
The Book Thief, he's back, wandering the streets of German cities about to be bombed into powder during the Allied raids in WW2.
Unfortunately, he's the only discordant note in this otherwise remarkable  story of a young girl who's taken in by a kindly couple (Geoffrey Rush
and Emily Mortimer) after her Communist parents are taken off to the concentration camp.  The performances are fine, and the story is good.  The
body count is high, but the movie is worth your attention.  (12/12/2013)

Delivery Man Nobody was more surprised than I was that: 1) I even went to see this movie; and 2) that I liked it as much as I did.  The
concept--a guy donates sperm over 600 times and eventually fathers over 500 children who grow to adulthood and want to know who their
biological father is.  The movie is silly and sweet, and I liked it a lot.  The revelation is Chris Pratt as the best friend/lawyer/father of four who
practically steals the movie.  I've seen him a couple of times in
Parks and Recreation (where practically every talent is wasted), and nothing there
prepared me for his performance here.  (11/26/2013)

Frozen   is based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen (I guess--I've never read it)  The marketing folks at Disney most have
experienced multiple orgasms when they read the script and found that it had--not one, but TWO princesses.  The only evil character is a guy who
really doesn't serve much of a person at all.  Oh.  And there's music--lots of it.  Sadly, none of it is remotely interesting.  I'm sitting here trying to
remember some of it, and I can't to save my life.  That's saying a lot when you have talents like Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell singing the parts.  
The most interesting character in the movie--and I suppose, the most commercial-- is a snowman named Olaf who comes to life somehow and
steals most of the best lines in the movie.  I hate to sound cynical, but I kind of felt I was watching an extended infomercial for Disney Store holiday
merchandise.  (11/30/2013)

The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire  I am not a teen-aged girl, therefore, I am not the target audience for this movie.  Perhaps if I were a socially
awkward young lady who could imagine herself saving the world and having three hot young guy drooling over her, I might have liked the movie
more.  Instead, I was as confused as I was in the
Twilight movie that featured a 95-year-old vampire who was still in high school. Here,we have a
recreation of the Hunger Games in which the winners of the past 25 years are theoretically pitted against each other.  The contestants are killed by
mutant baboons, tidal waves, lightning, killer fog-and maybe some other stuff, but none of the contestants actually kill each other.  But maybe my
biggest complaint that while the movie is richly imagined, it looks cheaply executed.  It's one thing to have a movie that was actually shot in front of
a green screen, it's another thing to look like it when you have a budget that was as much as this one must have been.  (11/25/2013)

Dallas Buyers Club   is all about Matthew McConaghey.  If you like him, you'll like it.  If not, you won't.  I'm not a big fan, but generally speaking,
I like him when he's playing a character from his native Texas.  Here he does, and I think he's quite good.  He's a rodeo hanger-on in the early 80's
who contracts the AIDS virus.  In his pursuit to acquire drugs more effective than AZT, he starts a cottage industry of importing non-FDA
approved drugs from other countries and distributing them to the Dallas AIDS community.  The movie is based on a true story, but several of the
scenes look as if they've been punched up for dramatic effect.  The best performance of the movie is Jennifer Garner as a sympathetic doctor.  
Dallas Buyers Club doesn't insult the intelligence, but it doesn't really ring true, either.  (11/23/2013)

Thor:  The Dark World So these dark elves invade the nine realms and....blah, blah, blah.  The chief (perhaps only) enjoyment to be had at this
movie is watching Stellan Skaarsgard--a formerly reputable actor--running around Stonehenge naked.  Mr. Skaarsgard plays a brilliant scientist
who--after he gets out of jail in later scenes--does something or another to save the world, but the movie is so sloppy that it doesn't really say: 1)
why Stonehenge is important; or 2) why it was important to be naked in its presence.  The movie cost a zillion dollars, and it will make it all back,
I'm sure.  But that's no reason for you to waste ten bucks on it.  (11/12/2013)

About Time Ever since I started considering seeing this movie, I've had the compulsion to start singing, "It's about time, it's about space.  It's about
time to slap your face...." or however the lyrics to that went.  The folks who made wrote and directed this movie also did
Love, Actually, which I
didn't love nearly as much as the rest of you did.  (Although I did love Liam Neeson's son telling him, "Come on, Dad.  Let's go get the shit kicked
out of us by love!")  While generally more believable than
Love, Actually, you'll find yourself scratching your head over the pairing of
30-something Rachel McAdams and some 12-year-old British actor.  I didn't believe it, but maybe you're more of a romantic than I am.  It's
pleasant enough, but eventually you'll recognize that it's said all it really has on it's mind, and you're ready for it to be over already.  (11/11/2013)

Diana The first time I took my dear old mother to Scotland (a long, long, pitiful story--ask me about it sometime), we hired a car and driver to
drive us around Edinburgh to see the sights.  Our chauffeur and guide was a lovely 70-something gentleman named Jim McDonald.  Both Diana
and Fergie were in the news at the time for doing something trashy, and Mom--God love her--asked Jim what he thought of the young--er, ladies.  
A look fell over his face that suggested that perhaps he had smelled something really unpleasant.  "Trash, trash--both of them."  I often thought of
Jim later after the divorce when it appeared that
Diana was attempting to step into Mother Theresa's shoes.  Now we have Diana, which presents
the People's Princess in such an unflattering light, that I think perhaps that old Jim was rather prescient.  This particular version of the story is told
from the POV of Dr. Hazmet Khan, a cardiovascular surgeon with whom Diana was in love in the last years of her life.  To sum up the plot of this
movie in one sentence:  they were in love, but he wasn't willing to give up his profession or his life for her.  Further,  Naomi Watts is an incredible
actress.  The fact that I went to see her in this movie is proof that I'd be happy to see her in almost anything.  However, I did not for one second
buy her performance as Diana.  Never do you look at her and think she was the princess.  (This also bodes ill for a movie that will be coming out in
the next few months in which Nicole Kidman portrays Princess Grace, but I digress.)  At one point in the movie, Diana dons a long brown wig so
that she can go to a jazz club with her doctor beau. We're supposed to be impressed that in the wig, no one knows who she is.  This effect is
totally miscalculated because Naomi Watts really didn't look like her in the first place.  Don't waste you're money on
Diana.  It'll be on the Lifetime
channel soon enough.  (11/9/2013)

Last Vegas  is probably as vanilla and as schmaltzy as you think it is. But it's also an excellent example of how great actors can take you for a great
ride, even if the vehicle you're travelling is old and creaky as the plot of this movie.  Any pleasure you derive from this movie will come from actors
like Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Mary Steenburgen, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline knowing what to do when somebody turns on a
camera.  (11/2/2013)

The Counselor is so bad it's almost good.  One's enjoyment is greatly enhanced by a lack of knowledge of El Paso, Texas.  If you can imagine El
Paso as the kind of place where people who look and act like Michael Fassbender and Penelope Cruz are ordinary folks who get sidetracked
from the straight and narrow by folks like Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt, you might actually buy into the movie's gestalt.  But probably not.  
Fassbender is the counselor of the title, and he wants to make one big score in the drug world, get out and have a fabulous life with his fiancée
Penelope.  Weird coincidences--and the most stilted dialog of any movie you'll see this year--get in the way.  Sometimes, the weird stuff that
happens doesn't really have anything to do with the movie.  For instance, early on in the movie, Fassbender goes to Amsterdam.  To meet a drug
contact?  To find a place to hide after he makes his score?  Nope.  He's just in town to buy an engagement ring.  We spend about five minutes
learning about the particulars of the diamond he buys so that we'll be impressed a few minutes later when Cameron Diaz sees the ring on Penelope
Cruz's finger and makes a very good technical description of it after a ten-second perusal.  Is this relevant?  I suppose the director thinks so
anyway.  The Counselor probably looked like a great script  As a movie?  Not so much.  (10/27/2013)

The Summit  documents an assent of K-2 in 2008 in which 18 people ascended the mountain one day, and only eight came down alive.  The
narrative of the story is provided by the actual people who survived that terrible day (and their irritating families and friends), but most of what
we're seeing on the screen is actors doing some the things that are discussed.  This makes the movie compelling--but relatively useless as a
documentary. At the end of we're seeing somebody's version of what might have happened--not what actually did happen.  It's like learning about
the October Revolution by watching Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton in
Reds.  At the end of the day, we don't even know if we're looking at
K-2.  (And face it, K-2 could use some pub.  It's the second highest mountain in the world, and no one's ever thought enough of it to give it a
name.)  If you don't mind the suspicious provenance of the story, it's an amazing movie to watch.  And who knows.  It might even be true.  
(10/22/2013)

Machete Kills   So what was I thinking, right?  I guess I was thinking that not all of the moves' best moments were in the coming attractions.  Well,
I was wrong.  (Perhaps for the first time in film history, a movie's best moments are a coming attraction for another movie.  That's not good.  
What's funny about Machete Kills isn't nearly good enough to justify the excrement that fills out the movie's running time.  A machine gun in Sophia
Vergara's bra is pretty funny the first time, but the second, third and fourth time--not so much.  Lady Gaga as a hitman--woman?  Uh, no.  I'm not
sure anybody in the world can play crazy better than Mel Gibson, but after the first fifteen minutes, it gets old.  Don't even think about letting a child
see this.  On second thought, you should stay home, too.  (10/14/2013)

Parkland  An odd little movie--sort of the "anti-JFK".  Where Oliver Stone was interested in big ideas--delusional or not--Parkland is about the
real people who experienced that terrible day in ways that are indelible, but largely forgotten by history. Abraham Zapruder, the doctors and nurses
at Parkland Memorial Hospital, the policemen, Secret Service, and FBI agents, and especially the family of Lee Harvey Oswald have their stories
told in a way that you won't soon forget. While there are several fine performances--generally by the women in the cast--one performance truly
stands out.  James Badge Dale, as Oswald's brother, truly stands out. Trust me on this: you're watching a star being born in this performance.  And
yet.  And yet.  As good as all these performances are, the actors who portray Lyndon Johnson and Jacqueline Kennedy are so woefully wrong that
they almost sabotage the movie.  Good thing the movie's really not about them.  (10/12/2013)

Gravity is sublime.  George Clooney's name might appear above the title in this movie, but it's really a one-woman movie.  In the words of Rajesh
from
The Big Bang Theory, "Sandy always brings it."  Indeed she does, and never more than she does here.   Trust me, she'll be getting her
second Oscar in early 2014, and this movie will be on every top ten list--including mine.  How this movie got made is a mystery to me, but the fact
that it was proves that movies can still be magical.  Go see it.  You'll be amazed. (10/5/2013)

Runner, Runner It's happened.  I now go to Ben Affleck movies and expect them to be good.  That hasn't always been the case.  The reviews
haven't been great for this movie, but I liked it.  Justin Timberlake was a credible naif, Affleck was suitably slimy as the proprietor of an offshore
gambling website, and the plot was just dense enough to keep me interested.  (10/4/2013)

Enough Said   This movie reminds you of two things at once--okay, maybe three.   The first is that James Gandolfini will be sorely missed.  He's
sweet and funny here in a roly poly kind of way--nothing like Tony Soprano.  The second thing is that Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who hasn't made a
movie since 1997, needs to dump tv and work in a medium that allows here to shine in the way she hasn't since the heyday of
Seinfeld.  The third
thing is that it's nice to see a movie doesn't beat you over the head.  Speaking of
Seinfeld, this movie sets up like the "Elaine/Susie" episode  in
which Elaine is mistaken for another person with unpleasant and hilarious results.  This sitcommy set-up of the movies' plot points are the movies
great flaw, but the way the issues eventually resolve themselves is its strength.  Check it out.  (10/1/2013)

Prisoners One of the things you'll notice first about Prisoners is that it's one long movie.  It's not quite three hours long, but it's close to it--and if
feels like days.  If you've been paying attention to the millions of trailers you've seen for it, you know that it's about the abduction of two small girls
from a suburban cul-de-sac in Pennsylvania.  But it's really not about the girls.  It's about their fathers.  Terrence Howard and Hugh Jackman are
outstanding a men who react to the disintegration of their families in different ways.  Jake Gyllenhall is a fine actor, but he's miscast here as a cop.  
(If he'd squinted one more time, I was going to deck him.)  It's a very good movie, and you'll despite the length, it will push all the right buttons to
keep you on the edge of your sea
t.

The Wizard of Oz in IMAX and 3D
I'm sure I've seen the entirety of this movie in one sitting at some time or other in my life--I just don't remember
it.  And I would have sworn that I'd seen all of it in swatches over the course of the decades.  And as God is my witness, I would have said that I
didn't care very much for the movie.  I stand corrected.  Seeing this movie on a gigantic screen (the 3D didn't add much) was a revelation.  And in
my own defense, I don't really blame myself for not recognizing its greatness.  The process of converting any movie (and especially this one) from a
big screen to a small screen requires an editor not only to decide what scenes to include, but what parts of a screen to include or exclude in the
process of making a movie-sized movie into a tv-sized movie.  So for example, if you're going to focus on the bulbous head of Bert Lahr saying
something inane, you're going to miss out on a lot of interesting things going on in the scene around him.  The great thing about IMAX is that it
opens up this movie and lets you really admire the fine performances of Judy Garland and Jack Hailey.  The downside of IMAX is that in some
scenes you see the Munchkins in all their mythic Hollywood squalor.  (Another downside of such a large screen is that some things creep you
out--like the tears shed by the tin man that look like blood and make if you wonder if he's a vampire.) (9/22/2013)

The Family   This movie might be too easily dismissed as the European version of We're the Millers, but it's really much better than that.  The
always wonderful Michelle Pfeiffer--star o
f Married to the Mob, and Robert DeNiro--star of The Godfather II and about a gazillion other mob
movies, have entered the witness protection program as a result of snitching on somebody or the other.  It must have been a very high profile case
indeed because the couple and their two teenage children are being protected on the Riviera--and later in Normandy, after their cover breaks
down.  This is the result of Michelle and Robert's inability to shed their old mob-like ways gets them fingered.  The movie is hilarious in its early
minutes as the family continues their anti-social ways in the small Normandy town.   Michelle gets dissed at the grocery store for being an
American--so she blows it up.  The first thing that DeNiro does when he reaches their new home is bury a body in the garden that he'd brought
with him from the Riviera. While this is going on, the kids are making the presence felt at school.   As the movie rolls along, the mood darkens as
the mobsters discover their new location.   At that point, the movie's body count soars.  Violent? You betcha.  But if you can handle it, it's a lot of
fun
.

The World's End   Wow.  Didn't see this coming.  All I really knew about the movie is that it takes place at a pub called the World's End.  Having
spent a respectable amount of time in a pub called The World's End in Edinburgh, I figured that I might have a handle on it.   Turns out, it's another
pub in another part of the United Kingdom--one where robots have taken over the town.  So the four-old-friends-reuniting-for-a-pub-crawl movie
gets hijacked by a robot-alien-invasion-movie--but that's really not such a bad thing.  Frankly, the "four-old-friends" plot kind of underwhelmed
me.  9For one thing, according to the movie's math, they graduated from high school or college twenty years ago, so they should now be in the late
thirties or early forties.  These blokes look like they're older than I am, and I'll be sixty next week.)  The director of this movie also made Shaun of
the Dead.  If you liked that--or any of the zombie shows on tv, you'll be very happy at The World's End.  (9/15/2013
)

Austenland So I went to the multiplex and asked the guy in the ticket booth which was better, Austenland or In a World....  He said Autenland,
so in I went.  I spent the next two hours asking myself, "In a metropolitan area of over a million people, am I really the ONLY person who has
NOTHING better to do at 9:45 on a Saturday night than sit in a dark theater watchin
g Austenland?  The evidence would suggest that the answer
to the question was yes, as I was the only person in the theatre. (Apparently, the guy in the box office was trying to stick it to th projectionist.  But I
digress.)  The movie?  Oh, yeah.  There was a movie.  It was ill-conceived, oddly written, poorly cast--but not without a few charms.  If you've got
the energy to look closely enough, you'll see that the writers have written a couple of genuine Austen sub-plots and character-types in to the
movie.  But if you're not a true Austen-phile, you'll probably just think it's weird, weird, weird.  I wonder ho
w In a World... was?  (9/14/2013)

Blue Jasmine I want everyone to go see this movie.  When it's over, call me or drop me a line to let me know if you've ever met anyone like any of
these characters in your life.   As God is my witness, I swear I thought I was watching a documentary about life on another planet.  Or maybe
everybody knows people like these, and I'm the one who's out of touch (a distinctly likely scenario).  The only vaguely believable character was
Alec Baldwin as a corrupt Wall Street type--essentially the same role he's played
in 30 Rock and every movie he's been in during the past ten
years.  It was inevitable that he'd nail that character by now.  Cate Blanchett, who plays his wife, is the central role, and as the movie begins, she's
in San Francisco starting her life over--badly.  She's such a wonderful actress that you can't help watching her--regardless of how absurd her
character is.  I sometimes think that actors will accept any role in a Woody Allen movie--regardless of how miscast they may be--because they
know they can dine out with the cool kids on it for years and years.  It's just a theory.  Otherwise, it's a Woody Allen movie--same white on black
titles that were oh, so hip in 1975; same inappropriate jazz music from the 20's and 30's; same verbal expression of whatever's going through the
character's mind at the time.  Woody Allen has released this movie every year for the past thirty-something years.  You know you've seen it
before.  If it's for you, you know it.  (8/25/2013)

Paranoia   I was intrigued by this movie for all the wrong reasons.  Mainly, I found it hard to believe that a movie with Harrison Ford and Gary
Oldman could score a whopping 4 on the Tomatometer at RottenTomatoes.com (meaning that only 4 percent of the critics who reviewed it liked
it).  Among the "Top Critics" at the site, it scored a 0
.  Not one major critic in over a hundred liked it.  That's almost impossible.  So I felt
compelled to investigate.  No, it's not much, but I have to admit that I did stay awake for two hours, so it wasn't t
hat bad.  And yes, it's a
long-running cliché from beginning to end, but I really didn't even mind that so much.  While Ford and Oldman don't really do much for the movie,
but they're not terrible.  The biggest problem with the movie is Liam Hemsworth, whose primary claim to fame is that he looks just like Alec
Baldwin thirty years ago.  He's just kind of cipher.  He's not one of those people you find yourself rooting for, nor does the script do him any
favors.  The worst thing I can say about the movie is that it's just another venue for comparing "Corporate America" with "Nazi Germany."  Too
bad.  (8/19/2013)

Elysium DISCLAIMER: I saw this at a drive-in theatre, so I really can't convey the visual experience for you very well, but based on what I did
see, it wasn't a particularly big deal.  As a matter of fact, nothing here is a big deal.  In the year 2154, Homeland Security, ugly vehicles and the
f*** bomb are all going strong; Los Angeles, Earth in general, and Jody Foster's ability to portray a French woman--not so much.  I'd like to say
that the director had an incredible vision of the future, but frankly, a lot of it looks just like 2013.  (8/7/2013)

We're the Millers   Oddly enough, I wasn't crazy about The Heat--which everybody seemed to love; but conversely, I kind of liked this
movie--which seems to be universally despised--quite a lot.  Why?   Don't know.  It may just be that I like Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudekis
better than I like Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.  Nah, that's not it.  I really like Sandra and Melissa a lot more than Jennifer and Jason..  
More likely, I know that wher
eas The Heat was alleged to be "realistic", I know that We're the Millers is a croc.  And I'm okay with that.  It's
supp
osed to be a farce.  The bad guy has a killer whale, for cripe's sake.)  As you probably know, Sudekis is a low level drug dealer in the movie;
Aniston is a stripper.  They find a couple of younger people whose poor lifestyle choices include homelessness and virginity.  They pose as a family
to pick up a load of drugs in an RV and bring it back from Mexico.  Along the way, a lot of predictable things happen.  But again, I'm okay with
that.  Maybe I just want to be assured by something.  Anyway, I kind of liked it.  Maybe you will, too.  (8/7/2013)

RED 2 is--of course--a mess.  I suppose that geezers my age are the target demographic.  If it's to be sold at all to younger audiences, the
attraction of old people like Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren wielding enormous weapons and kicking ass is not unlike dogs
dancing on two legs.  However, the people I just mentioned--unlike some current actors I could name--are people who know how to entertain an
audience.  And they do--with glee.  Actually, it's just nice to be in the company of people who--if they do something stupid--did it stupidly on
purpose.  (8/5/2013)

The Way, Way Back   isn't a great movie, but compared to all the other junk in the cineplexes these days, it looks like Citizen Kane.  It's well
written, well acted by good actors like Toni Collette, Steve Carrell, Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell who look their grateful to be in a movie
that's not trash.  A 14-year-old boy who doesn't know that his father doesn't want him, joins his mother (Collette) at her boyfriend's (Carrell's)
beach house somewhere in the Northeast.   The experience is so unpleasant that he actually gets a job to get away from the poisonous atmosphere
at the house.  At the water park where he escapes (and earns the nickname "Pop and Lock"), he meets the wonderful Sam Rockwell and Maya
Rudolph who run the park and provide a warmer family atmosphere than he finds at home.  I think this is the first time in 2013 that I've used the
word "Oscar-worthy" in a review, but I think that when awards time rolls around, you'll her Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell prominently
mentioned.   In the meantime, if you're looking for a summer movie that doesn't insult your intelligence, you won't do better than The Way, Way
Back.  (7/29/2013)

The Heat   At least one of the following statements is true:  Either Sandra Bullock is too old to make this kind of movie, or I'm too old to watch
them.  (And yes, I begrudgingly admit the possibility that both statements are true.)  At one point in the movie, the  writers seemed to be out of
ideas about what's funny, so they put her in a car with a giant slobbering dog. (and no, I'm not talking about Melissa McCarthy.  They had a real
dog.)  Really?  This movie reflects a disconnect that I first started noticing during the eight-day ordeal that
was The Lone Ranger (below)--namely,
why do movies that have characters that are so obviously farcical contain violence that is so damed realistic?  It's a disturbing trend, and I'm sure
you'll hear me complaining about it for years to come.  But back to Sandra Bullock, in the movie, her character allegedly graduated from high
school in 1982.  She says she went to Yale, and started at the FBI after graduation.  She's been working there for twelve years.   Let's do the
math, shall we?  According to my calculations, she was a student at Yale for fifteen years.  So either she got an undergraduate degree, went to
medical school, and then did a seven-year surgical residency, or her stated age is suspect.  I'm sure that she'd been a surgeon, the movie would
have been funnier.  (7/23/2013)

The Lone Ranger   When I got home from the movie tonight, I found myself reading David Denby's Do the Movies Have a Future?  In the book,
Mr. Denby (to whom I have to give props because he has the audacity to defy common groupthink among national critics and dislike some Quentin
Tarantino movies) says in a revie
w:  Inglorious Basterds is not boring, but it's ridiculous and appallingly insensitive--a Louisville Slugger
applied to the head of anyone who has ever taken the Nazis, the war, or the Resistance serious
ly.  Much the same can be said of The Lone
Ranger
.  Yes, there's a lot of Pirates of the Caribbean here for anyone who cares about that kind of thing, but for all of Johnny Depp's effortless
eccentricity and Armie Hammer's easy charm, there's enough racism, genocide, cannibalism (!) and other genuine horrors to make you look around
the theater to see if there are any parents around who are going to have to have difficult conversations with their children after the sho
w.  The Lone
Ra
nger manages the dubious feat of making Blazing Saddles look charming in comparison.  The darned thing is well over two hours long, so
there's lots of stuff that could have been toned down or taken out altogether without damaging the movie.  No, it's not boring, but--yikes.  
(7/3/2013)

Much Ado About Nothing   Joss Whedon might not be a name that's familiar to you, but he's quite a good screenwriter who's produced such
various and diverse projects
as The Avengers and Toy Story. Something--I have no idea what, but I'm really happy for it, whatever it
was--possessed him to gather a covey of his favorite actors to perform Shakespeare's immortal play, set in the current day in someplace that looks
a lot like Beverly Hills.  For me and probably a lot of folks who have fond memories of Kenneth Branagh's wonderful film from 1993, this film is a
revelation because in lots of ways, it's better.  In any production
of Much Ado, Beatrice and Benedick are going to be the big noise, and that was
certainly the case when Mr. Branagh and Emma Thompson were chewing up the scenery in the earlier version.  Here Alexis Denisof, who's been in
nothing you've heard of, except a bunch of tv shows that Mr. Whedon wrote, and Amy Acker--ditto what I said about Mr. Denisof--do the
honors--and they're wonderful.  They handle Shakespeare's dialog as if they had grown up watching Branagh and Thompson--and maybe they
did.   Where this movie outshines the earlier model is in the supporting players.  Claudio and Hero are usually the downfall of most productions of
this play, including the Branagh movie.  Robert Sean Leonard and Kate Beckinsale were just too bland.  Here, the roles are played by Fran Kranz
and Jillian Morgese, and they're equally wonderful.   Where Branagh filled out the cast with an opaque Denzel Washington, an incoherent Michael
Keaton and a brooding Keanu Reeves, Mr. Whedon uses people you've never heard of--except Nathan Fillion as Dogberry--who deliver their
lines brilliantly.   I don't know if this is the best movie I've seen this year, but it's one of them.  (6/28/2013)

Before Midnight So the first movie, Before Sunrise, was a terrific movie about young people (Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke) discovering life in
Vienna.  In the second movie, Before Sunset, they meet again in Paris a few years later, after life has knocked them around a bit.  It was OK.  
Now, they're bitter, middle-aged atheists in middle age who are married and bitching about--well, practically everything.  It's not pretty.  And
unless you're a successful author who summers in the Greek isles with his brilliant wife, it's completely unconnected to reality.  Clearly, we're
doomed to have these people invading our theaters for decades to come.  I just hope they get to be more interesting.  (6/27/2013)

The Bling Ring   The key phrase from the movie in the next paragraph is Hermione took our stuff, referring to the way the real Emma Watson
showed up at James Franco's house and walked out with valuables.  Practically the same thing can be said for this movie in which Emma Watson
plays one of five or six teenagers in Calabassas who remedies their envy of "somebodies" like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton by breaking into
their houses and stealing their bling.  This is based on a true story that was written up a couple of years back
in Vanity Fair, in an article called
The Suspect Wore Loubout
ins.  Miss Watson and her fellow cast members do a wonderful job of conveying the zeitgeist of a band of teenagers
who measure their own self worth to that of actual celebrities who themselves seem to be famous merely for being famous.  When the "ring" is
ultimately hauled into jail, they handle requests for interviews from the press just the way that Paris and Kim would do.  When a policeman tells the
"leader" of the ring that he's spoken to Lindsay Lohan, the young woman replies, "What did Lindsay say?"  I thought it was perversely funny, but
the fact that no one else in the theater was laughing started to make me wonder if I'm the one who's out of step here.  (6/26/2013)

This Is The End "So what's up with this color scheme?" you ask.  Thanks for asking!   This Is The End is a movie that starts strong, sags a little in
the middle and falls apart at the end.   In the beginning, you think that perhaps the film makers are shooting for something l
ike Dogma.   The rapture
occurs, and of course, no one in Hollywood is recruited to heaven, so life goes on.  Toward the middle of the movie, a group of B-list celebrities at
a house warming at  James Franco's house detect that something had definitely gone wrong.   They've inventoried their food and beverages and are
prepared to wait it out until a gun-toting Emma Watson from
the Harry Potter movies turns up with a gun and absconds with their food and
water.  This prompts the movie's best line (by the black guy f
rom Hot Tub Time Machine), Hermione took our stuff.  The last third of the movie
is an unsalvagable mess.   Not even an exorcism of "America's Sweetheart" Jonah Hill (?), a 400-foot tall demon with six heads towering over Los
Angeles, or Channing Tatum as a mostly naked sex slave can save it.  Generally speaking, when Hermione leaves, so should you.  
(6/24/2013)

Man of Steel   I don't have enough bandwidth to share all the ways I hated this movie.  On the plus side, Henry Cavill seems like a nice enough
young man, although he seems to be hairier than most Kryptonites I've seen over the years.  Also--well, there is nothing else.  On the downside,
this may be one of the ugliest movies I've ever seen.  The planet Krypton is so nasty, I'm surprised that the residents didn't try to leave the day the
place blew up.  Kansas looks a lot like British Columbia.  By the end of the movie, Metropolis is post-apocalyptic.  Another big thing I hated
about this movie was the body count.  Nobody's supposed to die in Superman movies.  Here, General Zod takes out almost an entire metropolitan
area.  Another big thing is the ending.  (I'm not giving anything away.)  By the end of the movie, everybody on the planet should know who Clark
Kent is.  If there's any confusion, residents of the hole in the ground that used to be Smallville would be in a position to tell them.  But yet, he puts
on a pair of glasses and goes to work at
the Daily Planet.  (I admit that this does set up the only good line in the movie, when--after
everything--Lois Lane says, "Welcome to
the Planet."  It's a nice moment.  Is it fair to say that every generation gets the Superman it deserves?  In
the Carter years, we had Christopher Reeve, a modest, nice-looking guy who fit the stereotype.  In the Bush years, we got a version of the movie
(which flopped) in which Superman couldn't bring himself to say that he stands for truth, justice and the American way.   We don't get that here
either, and Superman is also the kind of guy who takes out US government drones because they invade his privacy.   I'm sure this movie will make
a ton of money--but it won't be from people who wanted to see it twice.  (6/17/2013)

Star Trek:  Into Darkness As a culture, can we agree that the Star Trek franchise hasn't brought anything creative to the party in a couple of
decades?  If the big secre
t of Into Darkness is that they've recycled the plot of The Wrath of Khan, can't we just give the thing a decent burial?  
(Is it my imagination or does the Enterprise get crippled in every movie.  If that's what we have to have to provide face time for Scotty, I say we
cut Scotty loose.)  The new Scotty, Bones, Spock, Uhura--all of them--they're
just so boring.  I cut Chris Pine as Kirk a little slack, but not
much.  At one point, I found myself wondering why they felt compelled to dye the hair on his gigantic oddly-shaped head blond.  The only answer I
could come up with was that William Shatner was blond in the original series, so they felt they needed to respect that.  If that's the case, it's
pathetic.  And it's pathetic that I had sufficient time on my hands during the movie to think about it.

Now You See Me In this movie, lots of stuff happens that's referred to as "magic".  What these movie makes call magic, others might call bank
robbery, embezzlement and plain old robbery.  The characters are interesting, but not one damn thing they do makes a lick a sense.   Without
giving too much away, four previously small-time magicians are seeking acceptance by something called The Eye, which is alleged to be the
Guardian of True Magic.   OK, but what they do to procure acceptance seemingly makes them unemployable anywhere in the world.  And that's
just one of many agendas being pursued in this movie for reasons that are never really either clear nor sensible.   But it looks great.  You always
know that whatever it is you're seeing now isn't what's really happening, so there's always something to look forward to in the next scene.  But if
you're looking for a reason why what you're seeing is actually happening, you might be disappointed.  (6/8/2013)

The Hangover, Part III The Woof-pack is back.  Every ten minutes in this movie, one of the characters (usually Ed Helms) will say, "That's not
funny!"  He's usually right.  The overall effect is that
the Hangover III is an apology for the whole series.  If they hadn't charged me ten bucks to
see it, I would have said, "apology accepted," and moved on.  (6/1/2013)

The Great Gatsby Mea culpa, mea culpa.  In early May, I made a point of saying on the front page of this website, "Baz Luhrman's production of
The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo di Caprio and Carey Mulligan and featuring the music of Jay Z and Beyonce...nothing about this string of
words makes me want to see this movie.  Seldom has there been a movie that had lower expectations for me.  I wasn't a big fan of the novel.  I felt
personally insulted by the 1974 movie with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.  I thought Leonardo di Caprio was a nice kid a couple of decades
ago, but as an adult, he's just been kind of a pill.  Carey Mulligan has never been much more than a cipher to me.  Frankly, I thought that Tobey
McGuire is getting a bit too old for this kind of thing.  And as to music, Jay Z and Beyonce may be the president's favorite musicians, but to me
they're no Jimmy Buffett.  And yet.  For all its CGI cheapness (it probably cost more to create a CGI mansion for Gatsby than it would have to
build one), I liked this movie quite a lot.  Now, at least I know why I was never much
of a Gatsby fan.  Fitzgerald wanted to make a sensitive
enigma.  He just didn't pull it off.  And God knows, Robert Redford had no idea how to do it. But di Caprio, bless him, pulls it off.  You actually
feel as if he is down with the idea of taking a bullet for a crime he didn't commit, as long as it saves Daisy.  I hated the constant "old sports" in every
sentence, but I--finally--got the character.  Likewise, I finally understand why movie makers keep putting mousy little things like Mia Farrow and
Carey Mulligan in the role of Daisy.  I've never seen women like these playing a Southern debutante who was alleged to be bigger than life.  In
Fitzgerald's words, people like Daisy live careless lives, so they really aren't bigger than life.  None of this may have been a revelation to you, but it
was to me.  As for the music, well it's Baz Luhrman.  It's what he does.  I suspect that a syncopation machine could have made the same music that
Mr. And Mrs. Z did, and whatever it was they contributed didn't seem terribly out of place.  The Great Gatsby was never a big story, but Mr.
Luhrman has certainly made it into a big movie.  (5/13/2013)

Iron Man 3 I really had no interest in seeing this movie, but the price of having friends is being ready to go with them to see things in theatres that
don't much interest you.  And so I went.  It was okay.   To
call Iron Man an empty suit in this movie not only damns it with faint praise but also
gives away the plot.  As always, Robert Downey, Jr. is what makes this series go.  As always, he's terrific.  And occasionally, Gwynneth Paltrow
does something that takes your mind off of wondering how much they had to pay her to be in these movi
es.  Spoiler Alert: If Iron Man is to rise
above typical superhero crap, you have to believe that Tony Stark is in the suit and is Iron Man.   You don't get that luxury in this movie because
that's not the case.  By the end of it, you're convinced both that anyone can be Iron Man and no one necessarily has to be Iron Man.  The notion
that we can all be Iron Man, i.e., defenders of freedom, is an intriguing one, but it sure as hell makes you resent being manipulated the way you are
by a plot that puts dozens of Iron Men in the air by the end of the movie.  Not a big fan.  (5/8/2013)

The Call I liked this movie a lot better than I thought I would.  I blame the trailer.  I think I'd seen the trailer about a nine hundred times before I
actually saw the movie.  In each instance, it looked as if Halle Berry was a 9-1-1 dispatcher who personally investigates the calls that come into her
and takes justice into her own hands.   While this summary is, well, correct, it is somewhat misleading.   I don't think I've liked Halle Berry this
much since she played the flight attendant in the movie with Kurt Russel
l.  (Executive Action, maybe?)  Anyway, she's quite good.  Little Abigail
Breslin
from Little Miss Sunshine is now all grown up and looking good as the victim, and Michael Eklund is a really creepy bad guy.  If you give
it a shot, I think you'll be pleased.  (4/17/2013)

Oz the Great and Powerful I walked into this moving knowing that: 1) it's based on The Wizard of Oz--I'm sorry to say that I'm probably the only
person in the Northern Hemisphere who doesn't adore it; 2) James Franco is the wizard--seems like a nice guy, but I'm not a big fan; and 3)
Disney spent about $200 million on the sucker, which makes me think that there's an amusement park ride in the making somewhere.  To say that
my expectations were low is to understate the case.  So imagine my surprise when I walked out a couple of hours later thinking that I'd seen
something pretty special.  To answer my concerns, 1) I think the makers of this movie danced around the source material pretty well.  It was
respectful, but resourceful in its own ways--or to put it another
way, Oz would stand on its own, even if there had never been a movie called The
Wizard
of Oz.
2) Sorry to say, James Franco really didn't bring much to the party, but lucky for him, it was a big party, and Rachel Weitz, Michelle Williams, Mila
Kunis and Zach Braff were also on the guest list.  They were excellent, and when any of them were on the screen, you wanted to look at them
anyway.  Finally,3) as the movie rocked along, you see where the money went.  I found myself imagining the amusement park ride that the movie
will surely become in the near future in California or Florida--a flume ride, I'm guessing.  Actually, they threw so much stuff up on the screen that I
can see an entire park devote
d to Oz, a la Harry Potter.  The merry old land of Oz never looked better than it does here, and I think you'll enjoy
the ride.
P.S.:  This is one of the few movies that I recommend that you see in 3D, if possible.  
It's that eye-popping.
P.P.S.  I don't think I've enjoyed a movie's credits so much since the orig
inal Superman back in 1978.  It's not a big deal, but I think it's an
indication of the movie's attention to detail.  (3/11/2013)

Identity Thief  Wow.  Did that suck. Melissa McCarthy is fine in small doses, e.g., Bridesmaids.  Jason Bateman is terrific in almost everything.  
This, however, is just a woeful mess.  In this movie, both McCarthy and Bateman are on the screen (with bad material) for about an hour and
forty-five minutes, and th
at is much too much.  (2/28/2013)

Beautiful Creatures The buzz on this movie is that it's the new Twilight Saga.  Really.  Well, it does have a couple of things in common with the
incredibly successful vampire franchise.  One is that the story centers on an attractive young couple torn between two worlds.  The other thing they
have in common is that the both made me laugh like crazy.  Unfortunately, most of my laughter was directed "at" the movie, not "with" it.  Set in a
fictional South Carolina burg that is so backward--as the movie's protagonist complains--that you have to drive to Charleston to find a Starbucks.  
The protagonist in question is a boy who's just turned 16.  Since he can't have had a driver's license for more than a month or so, is the location of
Starbucks REALLY that much of an issue?  But I digress.  While the town may not be a big deal to regular coffee-drinkers, it is the world capital
of witches--or "casters", as they prefer to be called.  Viola Davis seems to know a lot about them.  Since the witches--er, casters--are more
sophisticated than their neighbors, they're all played by Brits like Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson and Emmy Rossum.  So does pure young love
triumph over the forces of darkness?  What do you think?  The movie isn't terrible.  Just don't take it seriously.  (2/28/2013)

Safe Haven I saw this movie two weeks ago, but it was so generic that I'd actually forgotten than I'd seen it.  Julianne Hough, an attractive young
actress who was new to me, plays a young woman who is on the run from the Boston Police Department.  When you find out why, you'll
experience the first of the movie's two really irritating and creepy plot twists.  She gets off the bus in a remote coastal town in North Carolina that
looks a lot like Beaufort, South Carolina, where she meets local grocer and widower Josh Duhamel.  Naturally, they fall in love as they wait for the
other shoe to drop.  After it does, you'll encounter the second irritating and creepy plot twist.  Since I've used the word "irritating" twice in six
sentences, you can probably guess that I'm not much impressed.  You would be right.  Julianne and Josh are charming performers, but that salvage
this mess.  (2/28/2013)

Gangster Squad Some of the greatest movies ever have been made about the Los Angeles Police Department.  Chinatown and L.A.
Confidential
are just the first two that come to mind.  Meanwhile, down at the other end of the scale, you've got the Dan Aykroyd version of
Dr
agnet and--well, Gangster Squad. Which is too bad because this movie has some of the best and hottest actors working today--Josh Brolin,
Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Sean Penn, just to name four.  Sadly, of these four, only Brolin seems to know what movie he's in.  Gosling and
Stone are totally miscast and way too young to be playing a world-w weary cop and a jaded dame who's seen it all.  Penn, looking like something
vaguely reptilian from another movie altogether, plays Bugsy Siegel.  Brolin, on the other hand, is fine as a tough, honest L.A. cop who's given the
job of bringing down Siegel.  The movie looks great: it clearly aspires to something on the leve
l of The Untouchables, but its miscast cast keeps
harshing the vibe.  (Do people still say that?)  You'd think that with all its starpower, this wouldn't be a difficult movie to watch.  You'd be wrong.  
(2/7/2013)

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters Don't hate me, but I really kind of dug this movie.  I would love to have been at the alcohol-fueled bull session
where some swozzled fooled piped up and said, "Okay.  The story of Hansel and Gretel is in the public domain, so we don't have to pay for the
rights to the story.  So we take the two kids who are lost in the woods and make them 17th century superheroes, who travel around someplace
where there's a preponderance of meerschaum pipes  We get Bond girl Gemma Arterton (she played the immortal Strawberry Field
s in Quantum
of S
olace) and Jeremy Renner from The Hurt Locker and the last Bourne movie to play the kids as grown-ups, and the travel the countryside
busting caps on witches, including Famke Janssen (who was in the "r
eal" Bourne movies with Matt Damon.)  Naturally, we make it CG-heavy and
ultraviolent so that any parent stupid enough to bring a child to see something that he or she thinks is a fairy tale will regret it.  I know it sounds
awful, but it kind of works.  The three leads are fine, and along the way, evil witches get squished in new and interesting ways.   It's mindless,
certainly, but at least they all lived happily ever after.  (2/5/2013)

Zero Dark Thirty   I expected that I would like this movie a lot more than I did.  Don't get me wrong; it's a good movie, but it just didn't find it all
that compelling.  As everyone knows by now, this is the story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden.  On the basis of this movie, you'd think that Jessica
Chastain did it all by herself.  Basically, the movie is just her and a bunch of random dudes who don't take her seriously.  The highlight is the raid
that takes bin Laden out, and even it seems rather mundane. (For one thing, the raid that allegedly took about ten minutes to conduct was stretched
out to about thirty minutes of "movie time."  I'd like to think that the movie dramatizes the events that allegedly led to the raid and that those who
conducted the raid are more interesting people in this movie, but I'm probably wrong.  (1/29/2013)

A Late Quartet  Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken and Mark Ivanir play the members of a "Fugue", a
world-renowned string quartet.  The cusp of their 25th year brings all sorts of issues to the surface--one member (Walker) faces a debilitating
disease that will impact his membership in the group; two members (Hoffman and Keener) come to grips with problems with their marriage; and
the fourth (Ivanir) decides he's in love with Hoffman and Keener's daughter.  Also, after 25 years of playing second violin in the group and telling
people that the second violin is just as good as the first, Hoffman finally snaps and says he wants to play first chair at least every once in a while.   
It's pretty standard stuff, but the actors are so good that you just sort of go with them.   (Although it does get a little tedious when the camera
always cuts away from them just as they're about to play an instrument.)  If you love  music but don't re ally care about how it gets made, this might
not be a movie for you.  But if you do, I think you'll like it.  (1/17/2013)

The Guilt Trip  At one point in the wonderful In and Out, a movie in which an Indiana schoolteacher (Kevin Kline) is "outed" as a homosexual, his
father (Wilford Brimley) asks his son, "Did Barbra Streisand do this to you?"  I wonder if people under the age of 40 people can watch Ms.
Streisand in a movie without letting the emotional baggage that defines her get in the way?  I wonder.  Personally--and I recognize that it's my
problem, not anyone else's--I can't.   I sat in a theatre for two hours, and not once did I see her as "Joyce", a coupon-clipping New Jersey widow
who dotes on her son (Seth Rogen).  She's was always Barbra Streisand--especially when she was inserted into contrived and ridiculous situations
like trying to eat a huge steak dinner in less than one hour so that it would be free.  (Which reminds me, part of this alleged dinner was a "shrimp
cocktail," which, according to the movie makers is a real cocktail which she drank.  What the....?)  In other words, this is a movie for people who
love Barbra Streisand.  If you're one of those people--and get confused easily by shrimp cocktails--you might like it.  Otherwise,
rent What's Up
Doc? and recall the good old days when Babs was an actress.  (1/15/2013)

The Impossible  (Sounds like the name of a magic trick, doesn't it?)  Before the first character is glimpsed or heard from in this movie, we're given
two interesting pieces of information in the opening credits.  The first is that the movie was filmed in Spain and financed by the Spanish
government;  the second is that this is a true story of something that happened to a real family--so true, apparently, that they tell us twice.  So later
on, when we're told that the real family that this true story happened to is also Spanish, we're a little perplexed about why the family in question is
portrayed by Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts and three little blond boys.  (I know there are lots of blond people in Spain, but they don't speak
with a burr like Ewan McGregor.)  In the end, that's all rather small beer compared to the fact that this is a terrific movie.  Anyone who's ever been
a parent or a child can't help but be moved by the story of a family caught up in the 2006 tsunami in Thailand.  The family is separated and go
through hell trying to find one another in the aftermath.  Since we've seen the coming attractions, we know that they do find one another; the
mystery at the end is whether Naomi Watts will live and/or get to keep her badly infected leg.  It's a very good movie, but you for some reason,
you find yourself nitpicking at it.  For example, Ewan McGregor spends three days picking through the rubble looking for his family, but at no point
does he take it upon himself to find an empty pair of shoes or sandals to put on.  (1/7/2012)

This is 40 Here are five ways I thought about beginning this review:

1.  This is 40 begins with a shower scene.  I wish it had ended with a shower scene because I certainly felt dirty after watching it.

2.  If you think your family is bad, things could always be worse.  You could be a member of Judd Apatow's family.  He apparently
   blackmailed his wife (Leslie Mann) and two young daughters into playing themselves in the movie.  I predict years of therapy
   for the three of them.

3.  Toward the end of the movie, you decide that you actually think that Leslie Mann is probably a nice person in real life--despite
   the fact that her appearance in this movie is apparently some sort of emotional hostage situation.  You hope that she makes it
   to the end of the movie with some small vestige of her dignity intact.  To paraphrase the Duke of Wellington after Waterloo,
   "It was the most closely run thing you've ever seen."   (Meanwhile, Paul Rudd, playing Judd Apatow apparently, loses his much
   earlier in a scene in which he gives himself a rectal examination.)

4.  I suppose I can understand how Mr. Apatow could coerce members of his own family into being in his movie, but sensible
   people like John Lithgow, Albert Brooks, Jason Segal and Melissa McCarthy should know better.

5.  WTF (Win the future)??!

However, I decided that none of them were particularly clever--a trait they share
with This Is 40.  Being an "Apatow Movie", there will be times in
the movie when you won't be able to help laughing.  Those moments, however, will be far outnumbered by the times you'll cringe or groan.  I feel
like a lesser person after seeing this movie.  Spare yourself.  (1/6/2013
)
Matt's Rating System:

Green Go!  I think anybody would like this movie.
Yellow Caution.  I liked it, but you might not.  
Blue   I didn't like the movie very much, but there is some merit there.  I'll tell you what I think it is.
Red    I can't imagine anyone liking this movie.
2013 MOVIE REVIEWS
Click here to see Matt's list of his Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2013!