Monday, May 18, 2009

Five Movies in Five Minutes

Here are my quick reviews of notable movies I've seen lately. I wanted to save some for more detailed reviews, but I kept pushing it off to the point where I can barely remember them - so this is my purging of that stack. I hope it's more entertaining than I've just made it sound.

Each title is linked to a trailer for the movie.


Slumdog Millionaire

I know that everyone who is interested in seeing this movie has already done so, but I wanted to add my two cents here: I loved it. I thought it was an incredible story about the power a human being has over the course of his own life. After the movie Stephen and I discussed the intent of the writer and producer in paying lip service to destiny in the tag line “it is written”, but I walked away with the overwhelming feeling that the film, regardless of what was said, actually showed that you are in control of your life and it is only through your efforts that you will gain your greatest values.

It is a love story with an unlikely hero that grew out of the most unimaginably cruel conditions. [9]


Sunshine Cleaning

I can’t say enough about this little movie. First, you have the fabulous actors of Amy Adams and Emily Blunt in the leads, not to mention the hilarious (though not in this film) Steve Zahn and the great Alan Arkin in the supporting roles. More than the fabulous acting, this film fascinates the viewer all the way through with its insight into the human condition. You wonder if, despite her cute perkiness, Adams’ character and her quirky parenting style should elicit your empathy. You wonder if she’s going to wise up and kick the deadweight to the curb. You wonder, at times, if she’s even sane. You wonder how it can possibly end well.

Your curiosity is rewarded as Adams’ character displays what it takes to be a successful human being: dedication to her own happiness. [9+]


Rope

I’m not a big Hitchcock fan, so I was slow to agree to watch Rope (1948). And maybe that was a good thing, because I’m not sure that I would have recognized the destructive ideology of the main character, but rather written him off immediately as the psychopathic murderer he was. The movie clearly illustrates how his mind set of superiority and privilege allowed him to not only murder an innocent man just because he could, but also persuade another, less insane man, to help him do it, then entertain the murdered man’s father and fiancĂ©e with the body hidden in the room. It’s a powerful indictment of the idea of intellectual noblesse oblige.

Jimmy Stewart’s role was awkward and unconvincing as the mentor who helped foster these twisted ideas in the murderer’s head but ultimately repents. [8]


Australia

Any movie that can that can take a shirtless and sudsy Hugh Jackman and make him seem almost unattractive can’t be good. Add to that some sweeping rugged vistas of the Australian outback, a slate of moral injustices crying to be wiped clean, the help of the beautiful and talented Nicole Kidman all among the backdrop of the impending outbreak of World War II and still make the whole two and half hours a painful and unredeemable experience (but for the mere visual presence of Mr. Jackman as a hard-riding cowboy) and you have my complete dismal opinion of the movie.

The two seconds of shirtless Hugh may be worth it for some, but surprisingly, not for me. [1]

There. I just saved you two hours of your life. You can thank me later.


Doubt

Again Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, and Philip Seymour Hoffman bring excellent performances to this movie about alleged priest impropriety with young boys in the parish. It is a fascinating look into the way the Catholic system worked, but more so into the way that people who are convinced they are doing the right thing in someone else’s interest can be carried away by their own baseless convictions. It was gray and ominous, but very well done.

In addition to the keen insight and great production, the movie gave Stephen and me a chance to spontaneously break into Catholic hymns we had forgotten we even knew. [6]

4 comments:

Doug Reich said...

Please do this more often. For those of us who do not watch a lot of movies, it's important to choose carefully and your short reviews gave the flavor without overdoing it, i.e., essentialized reviews. You just saved me money and time. I like it!

(the only movie I've seen in your list was Rope - the others I had been considering but now I know where to focus.)

Thanks

LB said...

Glad you liked it.

Last year we started a blog, In Search Of..., for more lengthy reviews. Unfortunately we got bogged down by our own, more formal format, but there are some decent reviews there too if you're interested.

Michael Randall said...

I too want to say thanks for the reviews.

And although I consider myself the biggest of Amy Adams fans, I could not get myself to see 'Doubt' in theater. However, with your comments adnd Miss Adams part in the movie, I will add it to my Netflix list. Also I loved Adams' perfomance in Sunshine Cleaning.

Have you seen the trailer for "Julie and Julia"? It looks like it just might be fantastic.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1135503

LB said...

I had no idea that book was made into a movie! I bought the book for Stephen a few years back - it's a must see - thanks.

I loved almost everything about Sunshine Cleaning, not just Adams. Blunt's lost girl was excellent and the final treatment of her character, perfectly bittersweet.