CAPSULE CRITIQUES FOR CATCH UP
Time to catch up on some of the films nominated for awards. Many of these films are now appearing on home video and PPV, and since I didn't get to them when they were first released, I thought it appropriate to present my views, in capsule form now. I sit through them, so you know whether you want to or not.
Exploring the world of the gambler is always a fascinating film subject. From the compulsive gambler to the slick card-counter, the machinations and personalities are intriguing.
MISSISSIPPI GRIND stars Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds as two compulsive losers, who discover Lady Luck smiles on them when they are together. The film takes the viewer on a trek from Iowa, through Little Rock, down the Mississippi River to New Orleans in what amounts to a rather intense character study.
Both actors give fine performances. The script, by Directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, suffers from several unexplained, or unnecessary scenes. For example: Reynolds’ midnight basketball escapade does not fit within his established character norms.
MISSISSIPPI GRIND is a character study, enveloped in the world of gambling. There are many folk who like films of this nature. In my mind, one of the best ever made was THE CINCINNATI KID, with Steve McQueen. Gambling movies must live up to the standards it set. MISSISSIPPI GRIND, while worth a look, does not.
THE GRADE FOR MISSISSIPPI GRIND = D
BROOKLYN was nominated for Best Picture and its main star, Saoirse Ronan for Best Actress. In my soul I know if Hollywood and its core of H3L had its way, this would be the type of film we would all be forced to watch.
It’s basically a chick flick wrapped in a human drama envelope. It concerns an Irish girl, presented with the opportunity to move to America. It is a dream, and when she arrives in Brooklyn, she has the most incredible luck, meets a most fascinating young man and is on the path to idyllic nirvana. Then, a tragedy back home forces her to return to Ireland, where she is confronted with an alternative lifestyle. Her option now is whether to be true, or be a whore.
All of this drama is played over myriad soul-searching discussions, and tedious long shots designed to make the viewer think there is deep thought in progress. Watch BROOKLYN with a woman – at least one of you will have a good night out.
THE GRADE FOR BROOKLYN = F
I don’t think there is enough medical marijuana in the world to make sense of ANOMALISA. Director and Writer Charlie Kaufman attempted to make an unrequited love story, mixed with an AI self-identity tale, and then wrap it up in a warped sense of Nicholas Cage angst. Then, to further complicate issues, he animates the entire story. Nothing works.
The movie boasts the voice talents of David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh (grand member of the dreaded three-name people) and Tom Noonan. Aaron Glascock has manipulated the audio board so all the character voices, with the exception of Thewlis, sound the same. While it fits in marginally with the movie’s theme, it is a lame ploy. The entire story is sprinkled with Cracker Jack box social commentary which makes the old TV series KUNG FU seem deep.
Not many movies are universally disliked; there is always some no-mind who finds treasure in garbage, however it is safe to say anyone who likes ANOMALISA is not someone you want to invite to your house party. The story is slow and its climax anti-climactic. The score by Carter Burwell is similar to Stephen Bishop singing on the steps in ANIMAL HOUSE. And, the acting is nondescript; well, it’s cartoons, so trust me, Bugs and Daffy have nothing to fear.
THE GRADE FOR ANOMALISA = F