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.