Daily Archives: July 17, 2010

Nurse     Blonsky

 

We hear a lot about America’s obesity epidemic.  One-third of America’s children are overweight or obese.  McDonald’s is under fire again, and soda machines are being removed from schools.

I am hearing a lot about something else — Nikki Blonsky, star of the new ABC Family series, Huge.  Nikki Blonsky, I hear, is a wonderful role model for young people because she embraces her “plus-size” frame.  Nikki Blonsky is perfectly content with Nikki Blonsky, so everyone else should shut up and deal with it.

This is all very confusing.  Lard — love it or leave it?

 

*****

 

Cartoon2

 

I thought I might make an eyebrow-raising point (as opposed to, say, a hair-raising comment).  I thought I might complain about the disturbing shift in Hollywood from adult-oriented movies to kiddie fare.  Fifty years ago, I thought, we had more mature movies.  Today, we are inundated with Shrek, Toy Story, Marmaduke, Despicable Me, and superheroes.  Surely, that kind of thing was unheard of in the 1960s.  I looked it up.

Here are the top ten grossing films from the 1960s, in descending order:  The Sound of Music, 101 Dalmations, The Jungle Book, Doctor Zhivago, The Graduate, Mary Poppins, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, My Fair Lady, Thunderball, Funny Girl.

Rats.  So much for my argument.  Two cartoons, one live-action kiddie flick, and three family-friendly musicals.  Just for kicks, I looked at the 1950s.  The top of the list was dominated by Disney cartoons.  I give up.  Kiddies rule, and kiddies have always ruled.

 

Cartoon4 Cartoon3 Cartoon1

 

*****

 

If Saturday Night Live doesn’t have a hilarious skit tonight about the Mel Gibson-Oksana Grigorieva freak show, I will give up on Saturday Night Live.

 

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My One and Only is one of those small movies that flies under the radar for a number of reasons.  It has an unfortunate title (too generic), no car chases, and no special effects.  There are no vampires.   But it has two things that 95 percent of modern movies lack:  a script brimming with humanity and wit, and a cast of actors obviously in love with the film.  Reportedly, My One and Only is loosely based on the early life of actor George Hamilton.  If Hamilton’s teen years were anything like events in this film, they must have been colorful, indeed.  

As the movie opens, young George’s mother, Ann (Renee Zellweger), finally has enough of her philandering, bandleader husband (Kevin Bacon), and so packs up George and his half-brother Robbie (Mark Rendall), assuring them that their new life on the road will be “an adventure.”  Ann rashly purchases an expensive, 1953 Cadillac Eldorado.  This acquisition is just the first of many unwise decisions Ann will make as she dallies, disastrously, with a series of potential new husbands.

Ann might be delusional, but she is also tenacious.  Just as Blanche DuBois “always depended on the kindness of strangers,” kindred spirit Ann has her own aphorism:  “Everything works out for the best.”   Well, maybe not always.  I have never been a big fan of Zellweger’s acting.  I did like her in Jerry Maguire, but that was a long time ago.  But Zellweger doesn’t simply carry My One and Only, she turns in an unforgettable performance.  I am now an unapologetic fan.

My One and Only is a road-trip movie that shines because there are so many genuine, small moments that aren’t essential to the plot,  but that nonetheless stand out.  Every character this gypsy-like family encounters on the road is flawed, but also likable.  When Ann, George and Robbie depart Pittsburgh to continue their journey, thereby cutting short a tenuous romance between George and a freckle-faced sweetheart named Paula, the camera lingers on the girl, who is sad to see them go. So was I.                  Grade:  B+

 

My2

 

Director:  Richard Loncraine  Cast:  Renee Zellweger, Logan Lerman, Mark Rendall, Kevin Bacon, Troy Garity, David Koechner, J.C. MacKenzie, Eric McCormack, Chris Noth, Molly C. Quinn  Release:  2009

 

My3  My4

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I’m going to penetrate deep into your subconscious – not on just one level, but on three.  On the first level, I will appeal to your hunger for spiritual nourishment.  On level two, I will attempt to feed your intellect.  And on the third level … ah, who the hell am I trying to kid?  I am Hollywood, and I just want your hard-earned leisure-time money, so fork it over.

Inception is a total mess of a movie.  It will make a load of money at the box office, because Hollywood knows how hungry audiences are for something that is – at least on the surface – intellectually a notch above junk like, say, Kick-Ass, or Avatar.  And in their promotional pieces, filmmakers can deceive Joe and Mary Filmgoer into the false belief that Inception has a heart.  It doesn’t.

Director Christopher Nolan is known for filmic puzzles (Memento), and in this regard Inception does not disappoint.  But what Nolan fails to understand, or doesn’t care enough about, is that in order to devote two and a half hours attempting to decipher an intricate puzzle, it helps if the audience can identify with the movie’s protagonists.  Leonardo DiCaprio is an appealing actor, but even he can’t rescue a script that devotes oodles of brainpower to the mysteries of the human mind but not one scrap of concern for the emotional end of things – despite a half-hearted attempt at “family values” involving Leo’s dead wife and their young children.

Inception is so, well, unimaginative that two-thirds into the thing, Nolan resorts to endlessly dull, mind-numbing car chases and shoot ‘em ups – the same routines we’ve seen a thousand times before.  The special effects are kind of fun but, well … yawn.

As this pretentious hokum dragged on and on and on, I kept glancing at my neighbor in the movie theater, hoping he would lean over and whisper in my ear:  “Don’t worry; it’s just a bad dream.  It will all be over soon.”              Grade:  C-

 

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Director:  Christopher Nolan  Cast:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine  Release:  2010

 

Inception2

Inception4                              Inception5

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