Over the last week or so I managed to catch up with a bunch of recent releases including a bunch of the Oscar nominees. Because I am incapable of just watching a movie without scribbling notes, I now present a bunch of short reviews. I'd have held off and done something with them down the road but the Oscars are a few hours away and I can't think of a better time then now to present this.
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
Matthew McConaughey gives a truly great performance as Ron Woodroof a man who refused to die of AIDS without putting up a fight. The best choice for Best Actor. One of the best films of the Oscar choices. All I can say is see it. My second choice for the Best Picture Oscar behind Captain Phillips.
Bruce Dern thinks he's one a million dollars so his son drives him to pick it up-knowing full well dad never won it. Cute quirky comedy/drama from Alexander Payne has a great performance by Bruce Dern. This would never have worked in color. Bittersweet
This isn't a movie so much as a Broadway musical. The tale of two sisters, one of which has an icy touch is a dead lock for Best Animated Film which is a shame since it's merely okay. Yes the songs soar and the film will look damn great on the Broadway stage but as a film it's just okay. The story structure suffers also since the big song is a quarter if the way into the film.
WOLF OF WALL STREET
Three hours of excess from Marty Scorsese as we watch the life and crimes of a Wall Street trader. Its slick. Its funny. Its vulgar. Its has no point. I know people love it. I don't. What is the point of all of the excess? Why am I being shown this? I don't know- frankly other than recounting the excess I can't think of a reason for telling this story, yea its funny, but at the same time its really empty- and if the emptiness is the point then Scorsese has gotten lazy since the emptiness is obvious. I expect more from Marty.
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play was adapted by author Tracy Letts for the big screening losing approximately and hour of material. I never saw the play but I read it.My reaction to the play was that it was over long soap opera and unremarkable. Seeing the film my attitude on the play changed since it was clear that the material came alive with great performances- the trouble is that the film is unevenly cast with the result that it only works in fits and starts- basically the big name stars Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep being in a different film than everyone else. For me the film is okay only sporadically worth bothering with.
Touching story of a woman searching for her son and a writer searching for direction. Very good and deeply moving. And best of all not what I expected at in the slightest.
Heartbroken man has a kind of affair with his computer. Oscar hopeful left me bewildered since its clear that love between man and machine is just as complicated as that of the human to human sort, except the computer can love more.I never fully connected since I never like Joaquim Phoenix who was too mushy for me, then again such are Spike Jonez heroes and out side of Where the Wild Things Are I'm not a fan of his films.
LEGEND OF HERCULES
Renny Harlan's sword and sandal film is big and loud and kind of dull with lots of CGI. Ugh. Give me any of the Italian films of the 60's over this.
Frankenstein's monster holds the key to the war between gargoyles and demons. What coulda woulda shoulda been a great action film gets mired in never ending exposition. I kept waiting for things to happen and not be explained. It feels like the introductory five minutes of a film stretched to 90 minutes. It almost works.
WALKING WITH DINOSAURS
Made for kids tale of dinosaurs, with the dinos talking to each other in a mostly bad kiddie film way. Didn't Disney almost go bankrupt doing something similar with Dinosaur? The wrong sort of juvenile.