Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Saturday, August 28, 2010


THE EXPENDABLES: 103 minutes/ R
Directed by Sylvester Stallone. With Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li.

Barbara and I have an agreement. If one of us wants to see a film that we know the other would hate, we can either see the film alone or view it with another friend. In this case, while Barbara was off watching her choice (THE SWITCH I think), I got to view the latest Sly Stallone offering, with an old friend of mine and real-life action hero, Frank Dux (the namesake of the movie BLOODSPORT).
Interestingly, the undefeated heavyweight champion of the unsanctioned full-contact bouts was more critical of the film than I was. Though, we both had no trouble sitting through this shallow, tongue-in-cheek explosion fiesta, since the whole film is little more than an hour and a half in length. It takes nearly that long to merely identify all the old action stars who are populating the screen. Stallone definitely made this one for himself, his friends and his die-hard fans. Speaking of Die Hard (for instance) both Bruce Willis and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have important cameos. Important, that is if, in fact you accept the premise that there is a credible story to begin with. Mr. Dux did not. In fact, his contention was that the, “Story was rather weak and not up to Stallone’s usual standards.”
Luckily, I was not expecting anymore than what I got from this film, a chance to see the old and new stars playing in the same sandbox. Wisely, Sylvester Stalone has not portrayed this flick as anything more than what it is, either. It’s just fun for him and his buddies and he hopes and believes (rightly so, in my opinion) that people will be entertained. He probably was sitting around one night with one of the other film stars and one of them said something like, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great to make a movie with as many action heroes as we can get together.” And the other added, “Too bad Arnold is busy with running a state. It would be perfect if we could get him to do a walk on.” And, so on.
I give this one two binoculars. Frank Dux said he could spare only one.


INCEPTION: 2hr28min/PG-13
Directed and written by Christopher Nolan, With Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao

(G) I think Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best actors we have working today, but the real draw for this movie is the writing/directing genius of Christopher Nolan. Here he establishes himself as the undisputed scriptwriting champion and my new hero. In INCEPTION, he takes a basic con-man, heist thriller and adds the complex, intellectual layering that was present in his Academy Award winner, MEMENTO (his other great script from a few years ago). That movie was basically a murder mystery, but revealed in reverse from the end to the beginning and written from the perspective of a man with a memory-disorder who cannot recall anything from his recent past. The presentation, therefore fit the storyline.

INCEPTION butts the con-man theme up against another of Carlos Castaneda’s basic concepts (delineated in the classic book, THE ART OF DREAMING) asking,”Is the dream world real? Does it have rules that must be followed and can that world be manipulated?”

There has been a lot of talk about the ending being confusing--there are several new sites dedicated to explaining the ending, for instance--, but once you accept that people can share dreams and that it is possible to go into deeper and deeper levels of consciousness within a dream, then the adjustments in time become just another interesting quirk in the unique perspective that Nolan enjoys bringing to the screen. It’s O.K. to have to think a little when watching a movie, in my opinion. Chris Nolan is asking the audience to think, just a little, just enough to make a run-of-the-mill con-man movie into a brand new entertainment experience.
I have to give this one a full four binoculars because it sets itself up to do something different and then, I believe it delivers.
The friend I viewed this one with, Mark Morris said he enjoyed it, but afterwards felt like he'd eaten too many oysters before bedtime.


EAT PRAY LOVE: PG-13/ 2hr28 min/Directed by Ryan Murphy/ Shared screenwriting credits go to Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Salt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book of the same name/ Cast of importance: Julia Roberts, Richard Jenkins,Viola Davis, James Franco and Javier Bardem

(B) I enjoyed this film. I journeyed with Julia on her quest. I felt I was eating the great food in Italy and praying in India and I loved falling in love in Bali. Two scenes were very memorable for me. One scene with Julia talking to God was very honest and moving. Another scene was with Richard Jenkins, when he confesses to Julia about why his own search brought him to India. All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I give this film three binoculars. Elizabeth Gilbert has her own EAT PRAY LOVE website at:http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/eatpraylove.htm

(G) I too enjoyed this film very much at many levels. I think it is clear that this movie has struck a nerve with the American public, as is evidenced by the surge in book sales and the thousands of theme items being sold throughout the world. Though the main character is a woman it is not really a “Chick Flick” per se, because the journey we watch the main character take, is one that all humans can relate to, based on things that most of us are concerned with. I also think it was genius to have Richard Jenkins be the male counter-foil for the Julia Roberts character, mainly because I think Richard Jenkins can make any character believable. I enjoyed watching this story in much the same way that I enjoyed Out of Africa (though I’m usually not a Meryl Streep fan). The scenery was enough to keep me interested, but everyone can relate to these themes, regardless of how narrow your personal beliefs might be. Julia Roberts has gotten some flack for being a poor choice to portray the author, but she is wonderful and very real in my opinion. Naturally, I understand why any woman would want her to play them in a biographical tale. Anyway, there was one scene where she seems to be able to leak only one tear and control the speed at which it falls down her cheek. That is acting! When Jenkins, Bardem, or even Franco joins her on the screen everyone seems somehow “better.” I too score this one a three and may be willing to go one monocle higher than that after I see it a second time.

The Switch

THE SWITCH: PG-13-2hr30min/ Directed by Josh Gordon &Will Speck/Writers :Allan Loeb (screenplay) from a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides/ with Jason Bateman, Victor Pagan, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, and Juliette Lewis

(B) This movie was very predictable. It was a no-brainer so to speak, but I couldn’t bring myself to see Inception, which just seemed too hard to watch and was not my cup of tea. Jason Bateman seems very natural in his role of a guy waiting in the wings for something great to happen in his life. Jeff Goldblum provides a little humor and Aniston is just par for the course. I could have missed this film without much regret. I give it one and a half binoculars.

NOTE: We did not feel you needed a trailer of this one.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


SALT: Directed by Phillip Noyce. With Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor PG-13 / 1h:40 m

(B) If there is such a thing as a film with too much action, this is it. I was exhausted after viewing unending armed conflict, car chases, jumping off trucks and planes, that I lost track of the good guys and the bad guys. There was very little dialog except for Russian, which Angelina spoke well. She had what it takes to be an action hero, if that’s what you want in a movie. Jolie survives situations that even Bond couldn’t. It held no great interest for me. I like a solid story with much more dialog and less action. To compare it with Knight and Day, at least that film was comical and amusing. Although I did laugh
when Jolie got beat up and managed to force the door out of a plane in flight, jump out, land in the ocean unharmed and to run through the woods. I mean, come on! Is she bionic? I can’t give more that two binocs and they are for the action stunts.

(G) Note: Ironically, (as Angelina Jolie is definitely a strong attraction for male viewers) I did not get to see this one with Barbara, as I was with two of my grandsons on this particular weekend. My review of Clash of the Titans (2010) will follow in a day or two (I know I'm late, but that's the way it goes). In place of my “focal” on Angelina’s latest (and to somewhat counterbalance Barbara’s jaded perspective) our neighbor, Joyce Mulligan, who viewed this film with Barbara will contribute her view below. When she sends it, I will post it. Until then, enjoy the trailer...
(J) Here goes the guest focal...I probably have nothing more to say than what Barbara does. Great action-packed movie, fun for the gals & easy on the eyes for the guys. She was superwoman, James Bond & Cleopatra all wrapped in one. Probably rated 3+.