Monthly Archives: December 2012

Dick

 

Here’s a comedy I have not seen but want to, because I find the premise irresistible: Two 15-year-old girls (Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams) who live at the Watergate complex, circa 1972, accidentally get involved in a burglary (yes, that burglary) and wind up meeting our 37th president.  Click here to watch it for free.

 

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Jump

 

21 Jump Street     Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play cops who go undercover at a high school to bust drug dealers.  Hill, who co-wrote the story, apparently drew inspiration from preschool memories for this immature, offensive, painfully unfunny garbage.  Release:  2012  Grade:  F

 

*****

 

Games

 

The Hunger Games     Jennifer Lawrence brings the same rural charm she rode to an Oscar nomination (for Winter’s Bone) to this entertaining, if overlong, spring blockbuster.  The story — in the future, society’s upper class keeps the underclass in line by staging a televised battle to the death among selected young people — isn’t all that original, but Gary Ross’ stylish direction and Lawrence’s appeal produce riveting spectacle.  Release:  2012  Grade:  B+

 

*****

 

Descendant

 

The Descendants     George Clooney plays a Hawaiian lawyer who, after his wife is left comatose by a boating accident, must grapple with two rebellious daughters, greedy relatives, and one life-altering revelation.  Nobody does Middle-Aged-Man-Under-Stress stories better than writer-director Alexander Payne (Sideways), whose movies click because their characters, although often behaving foolishly, worm their way into your heart.  Release:  2011  Grade:  A-

 

*****


Separation

 

A Separation     A tense, intimate look at honor and justice, Iranian-style, as a man separating from his wife faces prison for accidentally causing — or not — a miscarriage suffered by a family caretaker.  The clinical, faux-documentary style (shaky camera, no music) employed here adds to the story’s realism but also leaves what should be an emotional drama feeling a bit cold.  Release:  2011  Grade:  B+

 

*****

 

Joe

 

Killer Joe     A black comedy that aims for twisted humor but mostly misses the mark.  Members of a Texas trailer-trash clan hire a hit-man (Matthew McConaughey) to bump off a family member for the life insurance — but double-crosses are afoot.  The acting is good, and the direction by old pro William Friedkin is slick, but any grins and giggles are drowned out by an off-putting abundance of sadistic sex and graphic violence.  Release:  2012  Grade:  B-

 

*****

 

Magic2

 

Magic Mike     The cable channel Cinemax used to specialize in movies like this (and maybe still does):  Innocent youth takes job at strip club; older stripper takes kid under wing; bad things happen, anyway.  Swap out the usual no-name cast for some Hollywood stars, add a slumming director (Steven Soderbergh) with a decent budget, trade all that girlish flesh for beefcake in thongs, and you have Magic Mike, voyeuristic claptrap that’s no better — or worse — than those late-night Cinemax flicks.  Release:  2012  Grade:  C-

 

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This undated picture, released from Nort

 

The Onion crowned North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, above, as the “sexiest man alive,” and a Chinese newspaper fell for it.  Ha ha.  But you know what?  I’m not so sure that belittling the sex appeal of a dangerous nutball who is itching to show off his country’s nuclear capabilities is a particularly good idea.

 

*****

 

Avoid the Chinese Mustard

 

Two and a Half Men star Angus T. Jones (above, with some chick) trashed his own show, urging Americans to stop watching it and branding the sitcom as sinful “filth.”

I watched the show once or twice during the Charlie Sheen hullaballoo, just to see what all the fuss was about.  I didn’t think its major sin was “filth.”  It was crappy writing.

 

*****

 

Two-word terms that I don’t ever want to hear again:  1) fiscal cliff;  2) Lindsay Lohan

 

*****

 

Avenge

 

I broke down and watched The Avengers on Blu-ray.  It sure looked pretty.  It sure was stupid.

Director Joss Whedon and company made a ton of money off this drivel, which is fine by me; I can’t begrudge them that.  But what grates is the self-congratulatory nonsense that its cast and crew spew in the video’s extras.  Everyone involved with this movie was “wonderful,” and the film itself is “brilliant.”

Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly continues its devolution into People magazine, or possibly Out magazine, devoting its cover and 36 pages to “entertainers of the year.”  Sexpot Whedon (below) is photographed ripping open his shirt and is sanctified by actor Nathan Fillion, who informs readers that Whedon’s “vision was deep and expansive, emotional and human.  He knew every possible angle of the world….  That’s why he was so perfect for The Avengers.”

Silly me.  I thought The Avengers was just an expensive comic-book movie.

 

Whedon

 

*****

 

I’m not too crazy about the marketing practice in which Web sites track our online surfing in order to customize our likes and dislikes.  Marketers at The Huffington Post have determined that I am a likely fan of this story:

 

                             Huff2

 

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