Even though I’ve seen plenty of movies over the last year and a half, there hasn’t been a time when we had a big movie feeding frenzy about which my limited memory could report. In the last week or so, I’ve seen all five of these movies and am therefore pleased to finally present another installment of 5 movies in 5 minutes.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich
Did you see that cast? I had to like this movie! But I really did. I thought Mary-Louise Parker was completely charming as the kidnapped government worker looking for love, Bruce Willis still makes a convincing action hero, and I really can’t say more about Helen Mirren than what I’ve already said (which amounts to this: I love her). The movie is about a retired black-ops agent who is suddenly marked for assassination by an equally skilled working CIA agent. In his desire to root out the enemy, the Retired Extremely Dangerous Willis character begins to collect the best of other REDs, friends and enemies. After lots of plotting, shooting, blowing up of things, and the required evil Corporate Oligarchy king pin, the story is really about the search for love, and the good guys win. Karl Urban is one to watch. (7)
Starring Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Neil Patrick Harris
We saw this at the theatre. No one over 15 is really in danger of seeing this in the theatre, but I’m usually game (aka: a sucker) for a modern retelling of an old romantic fairy tale. After the first twenty minutes of the movie, I was jonesing for the singing teapot and the randy candelabra. Vanessa Hudgens – cute as a button – can’t act. Mary-Kate Olsen as the witch was reminiscent of Linda Blair in the Exorcist and yet, I don’t think that bloated, possessed look was on purpose. The boy, Alex Pettyfer was actually pretty good, but any scene in which Neil Patrick Harris appeared was like an enjoyment-oasis that saved me from drowning in my jujubes. (3)
Starring Cher, Christina Aquilera, Stanley Tucci, and the evil vampire, James, from Twilight
In the interest of full disclosure, I must report that I love Cher. Armed with this information, you might better understand when I say that my lingering sense of this movie is sadness. Fabulous Cher’s face no longer moves; her solo number was so forced I almost had to leave the room in a fit of transference of embarrassment. The miscasting of the erstwhile plucky and clever Veronica Mars, Kristen Bell, as the drunken, vindictive Nikki, was distracting. Stanley Tucci, as always, was wonderful and a pleasure to watch. But most importantly, the developing love story between the two main characters played by Christina Aguilera and Cam Gigandet, was unconvincing – though he was rather cute. I tolerated, but did not even enjoy, the song and dance numbers. This is the very mark of a failure in my book. (4, only because I watched it at home and did not fall asleep.)
These next two movies were part of our homeschool efforts. I like to compare and contrast books we read with the movies that were inspired by them. If there is more than one movie version, we’ll compare and contrast those as well. When we read The Last of the Mohicans, we watched three versions of the movie – none of which did justice to Uncas, the heroic, romantic, and tragic last of the Mohicans. But I digress.
To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962
Starring Gregory Peck.
There isn't much I can add about this movie except this: if you haven’t seen it in a while, do yourself a favor and watch it again – or better yet – read the book again. My twelve year-old was disappointed that it wasn't more about Scout, the narrator of the novel, but she wasn’t too disappointed in the difference between the fleshed-out movie version of Scout and the magnificent one she created from the pages of Harper’s incomparable novel. Overall review: Proof that ham is good for you and Atticus rocks. (9)
Cyrano de Bergerac, 1990
Starring Gerard Depardieu.
I was excited to see this version because I had only seen the 1950s version with José Ferrer in black and white. This one was French with English subtitles. What bothered my daughter most is that the English subtitles didn’t rhyme as the poetry in the English translation of the book we read did (even though it was reported to be translated into rhyming couplets). Still – it was Gerard Depardieu; He’s hard not to like. I liked Roxane and Christian, but my daughter found neither of them particularly attractive. The movie was well done adaptation of the play and the scene where Cyrano speaks instead of Christian under the vines below the balcony was more convincing than in the book, but that’s what staging and props’ll do for you. The story is heartbreaking and the passage of wasted time as visible on the faces of the characters makes it seem moreso. Given that what he endured he thought was in service to woman he loved – even though I would argue it is the very cruelty of fraud – his honor is undeniable. (7)