This is the latest update in my ongoing series of mini-reviews, quick thoughts on the latest movies I have seen from my Netflix queue.
The epitome of a bored night for me – just trying to watch something, I took a chance on this Ashton Kutcher led film about a playboy/con-man with few friends trying to make it in Los Angeles. He hooks up an affair with older woman played by Anne Heche and subsequently moves around from lover to lover until he finds love in another con-woman/playgirl. This was incredibly stupid, and very poorly done, despite access to some great locations. Kutcher just doesn’t move me on the big screen, despite from all indications, being a good guy off of it. There is a morality tale in there somewhere, but I’ll leave it to you to find it should you decide to waste your time with this. 1 out of 5 stars
Granted, this was not from my rental queue, but rather a short 30 minute film by Kanye West that I saw online. Kanye directs a story by acclaimed video director Hype Williams. Shot in Prague, Kanye and model Selita Ebanks star as a couple, one man, one phoenix (a bird). Interesting visuals, great music, but an incoherent “story.” This was an art-house short if I’ve ever seen one. Kanye shows a flair for color and subtlety for directing with strong camera angles. Worth watching if you are a fan of his music, or the truly avant-garde art house films. (no rating given)
An Australian film in the vain of “noir” that would make the Coen brothers jealous. This tense, taut thriller about a married man who wants to steal away with his young, trophy lover (also married) and gets caught up in having two schemes going on at once. Expertly handled direction with a great story to boot. All sorts of subplots abound and it does get difficult deciphering what will happen next, in part due to some occasionally tricky Aussie accents. A killer ending, to say the least. This one will stick with me for a while. 5 out of 5 stars.
Michael Douglas stars as a man who burns every bridge in his life, completing a near epic collapse of fallen successful businessman to down on his luck, womanizing loner. This is a coming of age tale of sorts for the 50′s to 60′s set. A lot can be gleaned from this type of film, especially for men of a certain age. The grass is not always greener would be applicable here. Susan Sarandon, Jenna Fischer, and Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) co-star. The movie hit home (perhaps a little too closely) for me, so it earned a few extra points there, although nothing out of the ordinary really happens. 3 out of 5 stars
Alice In Wonderland
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp combos don’t often do much for me and this was really low on my radar but a woman in my life wanted to see it, so I sacked up. Visually interesting but little else, even Depp’s performance failed to captivate and he usually wins raves for this type of thing. (I saw the original Pirates of the Caribbean years ago and his Jack Sparrow was far and away the best thing in it). There is really nothing noteworthy to report about this movie. I was surprised that I didn’t bash this movie harder and was actually able to make it through. 2 out of 5 stars
Director, writer and actor Edward Burns put together this largely overlooked movie and his experience with it has since spurred him to go the super-indie route with his latest Nice Guy Johnny. This one is about five friends struggling with their lives and relationships as they come together for the marriage of Burns’ lead character. Equal time is given to all five men and some work better than others. There are some heavier themes that I was happy to see explored, especially amongst men, but not enough to recommend it. This movie was marred by the difficult to stomach Jay Mohr, who’s over the top antics made him so unlikable it affected my opinion of the film. 2 out of 5 stars
A smash ‘em up mess that features Chris Evans, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba and Zoe Saldana among a crew of bandits in an action-thriller where Jason Patric wants to destroy the world. This was a preposterous movie that was more fascinating to see because of how far Patric’s career has fallen than any other reason. He was once a star to be but is now doing these hack roles, and not particularly well I might add. The cast had enough names, and my Netflix queue was depleted enough, to give this a go, but it wasn’t worth it. The explosions meant nothing – despite Evans, Elba, and Morgan’s best efforts to give it something more – it didn’t work. I might have been generous with this one. 2 out of 5 stars
Jean Luc Godard’s 60′s revered French new wave film was shot in all black and white as you would expect. The tale of a con man who can’t connect himself to anyone and his lover who for some reason wants to be with him desperately (though it never really comes across in the film at all). I was hoping for a more involving movie than this. I appreciate the simplicity of some of the scenes and the lead had a few semi-amusing moments, but again, there is not enough here for me to recommend. It really was like what is referred to nowadays as a mockumentary. The movie reminded me a bit of watching the Man Bites Dog mockumentary but not quite as fun. 2 out of 5 stars
Get Him To The Greek
The early year comedy was billed as a sequel to the forgettable Forgetting Sarah Marshall, with only a few of the characters in tact. Russell Brand plays the enigmatic musician Aldous Snow with Jonah Hill a fledgling music exec charged with picking him up in England and bringing him back to LA where he was to play a concert that might resurrect Snow’s career and launch Hill’s. Sean P. Diddy aka Puffy (that’s what I will always call him) Combs plays Hill’s boss, a music mogul searching for much needed talent. Combs’ is by and large the scene stealer of the film and largely what makes it worth watching. I didn’t expect that this would be quite as entertaining as it turned out to be. But it beats the original film on Combs’ performance alone. 3 out of 5 stars
This was a very controversial film upon its Cannes premiere screening which saw more than 200 people walk out on it. The movie is Gaspar Noe’s hammering look at a rape, choices, irony and consequences, told in reverse order. I had a difficult time watching this movie, but respect its audacity and ambition quite a bit. There is a grotesque murder where a gay man is beaten to death with a fire extinguisher (and the camera lingers plenty for you to witness his head separating). Worse still is the absolutely beautiful Monica Bellucci, being raped in a horrific scene that has to be seen to be believed. (At the same time, it was easily among the most painful scenes I have EVER witnessed on film. Makes Pulp Fiction‘s gimp scene look tame). I rated it lower because Netflix asked whether I “like” the film or not. I answered no, I “didn’t like it,” but I am still somewhat fascinated by it, I respect it, and this may be one to own at some point. The ending makes the beginning all the more tragic, believe me. I was in near tears describing a scene in the film a day later. Brutal. 2 out of 5 stars