Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weighing in On Demand vs Big Screen/Multiple Reviews

There has been a controversy of late because some production companies are threatening to release films to On Demand outlets within weeks of releasing the same films into the theater markets. Those opposed (mainly the theater owners) believe that people won’t go to the movies because they can see the same movie, if they wait a week, for much less. We don’t think this will create a problem—although we both agree that movie tickets are becoming too expensive and that there is room for change in the industry to meet new demands and compete. The fact of the matter is that there is something unique about the theater/big screen experience. Some films will continue to have an audience ON THE BIG SCREEN and there are those that are adequate on a smaller screen. We’re not sure what this particular Bifocal Review means, in terms of this argument, but we felt that we should comment on the films below (for a variety of reasons) even though we were not motivated to catch them while they were exclusively in theaters. All of the films below we have seen within the past month on our television and our impressions are expressed in brief. Movie producers: Take note.

CASINO JACK— Directed by George Hickenlooper/ Starring Kevin Spacey, Ruth Marshall, Graham Greene/written by Norman Snider/ 1hr 48min/R
(B) I like Kevin Spacey. That’s what drew me to this film. In spite of the fact that he has credible work in this film, I felt angry when it was over because of the content and information about how lobbyists are ruining our country. That kind of political behavior is just nuts. How can the average person remain focused on their childrens’ education when we see how education can be manipulated to produce crooked politics? I support education, but we need to find ways to use what we learn wisely.
(G) I always like Kevin Spacey and I enjoy a good historical/political drama. This is one of those times when you finish watching a movie, and you know that it is factual (to some degree) it kind of makes you uncomfortable. The film is about Jack Abramoff, a political lobbyist who epitomizes all that is wrong with our political system. All I went away with, after viewing CASINO JACK, is a reinforced belief that lobbying is bad, it should be illegal and any politician who supports the current practice should be voted out of office. Two out of four binoculars is generous.

COUNTRY STRONG— Directed by Shana Feste/ Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund/written by Shana Feste/PG13/112 min
(B) This movie was very mediocre, in my opinion. I’m glad Gwyneth Paltrow has found her “voice” and is able to cross over to the music industry. That’s all I really have to say.
One and half binoculars from me.
(G) I’m not a big Country Western music fan, but I don’t think I’m really Country-phobic. I liked Crazy Heart…last year. I just don’t want to see a movie about a Country star every year. I know that it Country Strong is based on a true story, but I worked with alcoholics and addicts for 20 years and they all have stories more tragic than this. The music was not that compelling and I think Gwyneth was wasted here. I was impressed with Tim McGraw’s acting as much as anyone else’s, but I couldn’t understand why he was not allowed to sing during the film. Maybe his obvious skill would have detracted from the alleged star qualities of the actors portraying singers. I give this one a two.

DUE DATE— Directed by Todd Phillips/ Starring Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan/story by Alan R. Cohen & Alan Freedland/screenplay by Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, Todd Phillips/rated R/ 1hr 35 min
(B) Oh. No. I’m not a good judge of this film because I’m not a big Zack fan. I am a fan of RD Jr. but if I’d missed this film, I would have been O.K. with it. One binocular and one monocle. It was just silly, not funny.
(G) The story and the set-up are immaterial to the minor enjoyment I experienced during this movie. I laughed several times. I liked the dialogue, the characterization and the quick-witted give and take between Downey Jr. and Galifianakis, but the lines could have been delivered in any circumstance, within any plot-lines and I would have enjoyed them as much. I give it a two.

TOY STORY 3—1 hr43min/G/Directed by Lee Unkrich. Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack/Screenplay by Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
(B) I would like to say that I didn’t see this movie, because I don’t want to review it. However, my husband is sitting next to me and forcing me to tell you that I didn’t enjoy this animated feature. Don’t ask me to explain. I just didn’t like it.
(G) I feel a little silly reviewing this film now, knowing that I am doing so because it was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar this year and I didn’t give it the time of day in the Oscars column. This was a cute animated story for kids (I think). Randy Newman’s music was the best part of the film. I give this one a monocle.

TRON LEGACY—Directed by Joseph Kosinski/Starring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde/characters by Steven Lisberger, Bonnie MacBird, story by Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal, screenplay by Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz/PG/ 125 mins
(B) I don’t like to limit myself to a certain genre of films, but my heart and my brain tell me that these are not films for me. Any futuristic fantasy, full of fluff and unrelated to the real world—without any green trees or familiar life-forms—doesn’t work in my world. In keeping with the genre…I give this one a microtronic chip…just one. You do the conversion.
(G) Another example of not “leaving well-enough alone.” This script relies too heavily on the original Tron (and the viewers knowledge thereof) and lacks any suspense. Except for the clever CGI of Jeff Bridges face and another chance to see Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde, I can’t think of any reason to see this one. Another monocle.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Phantom(s) of the Dr's Office

Bifocal Reviews—Dr. Mark Jason Concert Procedure

(B) Is there an upside to Osteoporosis? I’ve tried everything, but things happen when you get older and with a sensitive stomach, I’m not a good candidate for some of the oral products. However, I was offerent an opportunity to try Reclast, an infusion that I will get once a year. What could be more pleasant than sitting in a Lazy Boy chair, with your feet up, and an IV drip in your arm, while listening to a private, live concert? Well, that’s exactly what happened. I was pleasantly surprised by the service and the special attention took my mind off of the needle in my arm. The short video below, speaks for itself.

(G) As usual, Barbara and I are sitting next to one another while she is having this experience. Thanks to my new iPhone (that she got me for my birth-month) I was able to capture this unique experience. Dr. Jason began the concert with his own composition and then, another patient came in (Mr. Wilbur) and was asked to play as well. It was the most unique medical experience I’ve ever had, and you can see that Barbara was completely entertained, taking her attention away from the dreaded needle. After all, we know that she is very sensitive and kind of a baby. As for me (the worried spouse), knowing that she was not concentrating on the needle, allowed me to be entertained as well. Dr. Jason and the guest musician were really quite good.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Arthur 2011—Directed by Jason Winer/screenwriter: Peter Baynham & Jared Stern/starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner/1hr50min/PG-13

(B) This movie was ten minutes shy of two hours, but it seemed like closer to FOUR hours, by my boredom barometer. It doesn’t really deserve to be compared with the Dudley Moore original, except to say that there is no comparison. The chemistry between Moore and John Gielgud (as the Butler) was pure magic. In spite of the great actress that she is, even Helen Mirren couldn’t save this sinking ship. The star was not convincing beyond the part where he plays the fool. How much of that is acting, I’m not sure. My daughter treated me to this movie, and I felt bad for her having to sit through the entire uninspired 110 minutes. She confided—at the exit doorway--that she would have walked out in the first ½ hour, had I not been her ride home. I’m not commenting on anyone’s performances except for Brand’s, because he was in almost every scene. No other actor had a chance to salvage any credibility for individual performances, or to change my opinion on the film as a whole. I did love the wedding dress that Jennifer Garner wore, but that is a sad commentary in itself. When a pretty piece of cloth can steal a whole show that’s saying something. One Monocular (not a full binocular) is all this stinker warrants.
(G) Herein lay the beauty of the “Bifocal Review.” In fact, in this case we had three different sets of eyes watching the same screen, and each of us came up with similar conclusions, one more dismal than the last. Naturally, Helen Mirren’s scenes made the entire experience LESS of a chore. She is great in everything. Unfortunately, her ability to deliver a line of dialogue was severely compromised by the fact that Russell Brand was completely lifeless and the script was DOA. I have to say that I found it compelling (at first) that Gielgud’s character had been switched to a female actress like Mirren, but she did get dubbed to play Shakespeare’s Prospero as the transgender Prospera in last year’s remake. As for Greta Gerwig or Jennifer Garner, the poor things didn’t have a chance. It’s also a shame that Nick Nolte made a “comeback” in a film so unworthy of his talents. We know that he can play the heavy and the straight man in comedy from award winning films of both genres. Perhaps a new audience will not be able to make the comparison between this and the original version, but I dare say that they will come away thinking what we did here: “This is just not that funny.” I am going to be more generous than Barbara or our daughter, Carla and give this movie one full binocular, but let’s face it…the average is still less than one.
If you laugh at the trailer, then be satisfied that you've seen the funniest part of this movie and save your cash.