Tag Archives: movie critic

I spy a fun film

I finally saw The Man from U.N.C.L.E. today.

I’m so glad I didn’t let the critics dissuade me.

Since the stylized spy thriller opened counter to Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, critics seemed hell-bent to compare the two.  I’ve seen both; there’s really no comparison.

MI:RN was a wonderful sequel in the Mission Impossible franchise, but the storytelling and action sequences are distinctly modern. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a homage to the 1960’s television series, and the look, feel, pacing, soundtrack — you name it — are true to that era.

I also loved the very dry, British humor that director Guy Ritchie brought to the production. I’m not sure everyone in the theater today got it, but that simply made me feel smarter…and laugh all the louder.

As the trailers promised, everyone in this film is beautiful to gaze upon. Russian spy Armie Hammer is deadly gorgeous, especially in the close-ups, and American agent Henry Cavill is so chiseled, he doesn’t seem realistic. Hugh Grant has also never looked better. He should hire the hair and makeup people and keep them on staff.

I loved Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and I loved The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 

I am so complex.

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Second chance theater

the village

I had the opportunity to watch The Village again over my lunch hour today.

Okay, it went a tad over an hour.

After director M. Night Shyamalan’s huge hit The Sixth Sense, critics never really seemed to like any of his other films, including The Village.

But I loved it the first time I saw it in the theater, and it held up on the second viewing, too, even though I already knew the famous twist.

Plus, I was reminded of the wonderful performances by Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix and William Hurt.

So, if you initially dismissed it because it wasn’t The Sixth Sense — and let’s face it, there isn’t going to be another one of those — I urge you to give The Village another chance.

‘Cause it takes a vill…okay, I’ll stop.

Directions

I see a lot of movies…at least one a week.

And never has a director’s ‘stamp’ been so obvious to me as during the double feature I saw yesterday:  “Conviction,” starring Hillary Swank, and “Hereafter,” with Matt Damon.

I hadn’t intended to see two such heavy films back-to-back, but the times worked out and the screens were right next door to each other…so off I went.

“Conviction” is the true story of a working class mother who puts herself through college and law school in an attempt to free her brother who is serving a life sentence after being wrongly convicted of murder.  Director Tony Goldwyn, who has worked behind the camera in television more than film, really brings the audience into the story.  The scenes between Hillary Swank and Sam Rockwell, who plays her brother, are particularly heartbreaking.

I don’t know how anyone could leave the theater untouched by that movie.

I can’t same the same about “Hereafter.” Directed by Oscar-winner Clint Eastwood, this movie tells the story of three people — an American man, a French woman and a British boy — who are all touched by death and whose lives intersect in their quest to connect with life beyond.

Eastwood’s movie  has a bold opening that took my breath away, but when the emotion should have matched the CGI, the film instead pulled away.  I felt like a spectator from a very great distance.  I still cared about the people; I just didn’t share in their experiences.

So…why was the material handled so differently?

Did Goldwyn, who has lived in in Massachusetts (where the “Conviction” story took place) have a more personal connection to the material…and that subsequently came through in the final product?

Could Eastwood’s own feelings about life-after death have caused him to ‘observe’ the story himself and unintentionally give the audience the same experience?

Or did I bring my own biases to the party that colored my view of both films?

If you’ve seen “Conviction,” “Hereafter,” or both, leave a comment with your thoughts.

And we’ll see.  We’ll see.

The name’s the thing

I haven’t seen “Hot Tub Time Machine” yet.

But it’s on my short list.

I don’t need to know the plot.  I don’t need to know who’s in it (although, I’ll admit, I did accidentally see John Cusack in a poster).  I don’t even care what critics are saying.

“Hot Tub Time Machine” is one of the greatest movie titles of all time.  Based on that alone, I will take my chances at the theatre.  It deserves to be seen.

And whether “Hot Tub Time Machine” is a good movie or not, let it be a lesson to movie makers everywhere:

The title matters.

The name of the movie alone can put butts in the seat.

“Hot Tub Time Machine” has inspired me to write — not a great movie — but a great movie title.

(I’ll worry about the rest later.)