6 September 2013
People who write movie scripts tend to watch a lot of films and are rarely shy about sharing an opinion. I am one of them. Listed below are one-sentence reviews for 10 recent and current films, each judged by my famous “5-finger” scoring system.
Ratings: 5 fingers = a great film easily worth the money. 4 fingers = excellent. 3 fingers = just a movie. 2 fingers = disappointing. 1 finger = well, decency dictates I skip using one finger so instead of a 1-finger rating I use 0 (a closed fist) = we should punch everyone involved.
As the summer slow season bastes its turkeys with hundreds of millions dollars wasted on big-budget explosion and computer-generated fiascoes, late summer’s slate of smaller film offers hope for a better fall and winter. Here are quick recaps of ten:
Blackfish – 5 fingers. You’ll never look at sushi or Sea World the same after viewing this stark and chilling expose about the captive lives of orcas enslaved by the famous money-hungry amusement park.
Blue Jasmine – 3 fingers. Nice concept, poor location logic, as this is a NYC film set in San Francisco –- a town not know for being overrun with hardcore New Yorkers — detracts from wonderful work by Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins and supporting actor Louis CK. (note: Commit, Woodman –-pick one town or the other, as half of both adds up to less than either.)
Still Mine – 3 fingers James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold work hard and deliver quietly pleasant performances as octogenarian homesteaders in New Brunswick who ignore rules and regulations as Cromwell hurries to build a small new home on their land as his wife falls helplessly into advanced dementia.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler – 4 fingers. Oscar buzz over a film with virtually nothing in it that actually happened thanks to great performances by Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, based upon a White House butler’s 34-year run spanning the latter half of the twentieth century.
In A Word – 3 fingers. Demitri Martin is a personal favorite of mine but Lake Bell’s effort at being a one-woman band (writer, star, director) falls disappointingly flat in this good concept but weakly scored and uneven effort about voice-over talent rivals in Hollywood.
The World’s End – 3 fingers. Bizarre high-concept pureed confusion, courtesy of hardworking British comedian Simon Pegg, as four buddies decide to go on an overly ambitious pub crawl, only to find out they’re messing with Sasquatch (so to speak).
You’re Next – 3 fingers. Passably entertaining low budget ensemble horror film with an anonymous cast featuring a bumbling team of bad guys who don’t realize they have picked on the wrong Australian hot babe survivalist – and spends the last half of the film proving it by spilling more than her weight in blood.
The Act of Killing – 5 fingers. This gut-wrenching documentary films real-life Indonesian death squad leaders responsible for thousands of 1960s anti-communist murders as they recreate some of their most memorable assassinations. Riveting with a gruesome, visceral punch that will double you over long after the film is done, this is one heck of a movie that merits not just five stars but also two sentences.
The Family – 4 fingers. This dark comedy about a hot-tempered, dysfunctional family struggling to keep a low profile in a witness protection program in Normandy, France is not for the squeamish but is well written, smartly paced, and entertaining fun thanks to the excellent work of Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones – as well as 27-year-old Glee alum Dianna Agron, who convincing plays the vixenish, mischievous, and short-tempered 17-year-old daughter.
Lovelace – 3 fingers. Gritty, grim biopic showcases an excellent performance by actress Amanda Seyfried while suppressing the flesh and sidestepping the worst of the sad, pitiable story of a naïve young woman whose life was manipulated, chewed up, destroyed, and discarded for pennies so others could make millions during the dawn of prudish America’s late-60’s/early-70s sexual awakening.
The year’s best will start rolling out soon and I can’t wait! Shop wisely, pick a film you might enjoy, and have a fun time in a good seat at your local theater.
See you at the movies!
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