Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Thursday, November 17, 2011

J. Edgar

J.EDGAR--Directed by Clint Eastwood/Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts/written by Dustin Lance Black/rated R/2hr28min

Bifocal Review
Barbara and Gordon Rich

(B) I kept waiting for something in this film to be worth my time and money. It never happened. I have seen better make-up on corpses in funeral homes. It may have been the lighting and the close-ups that made it all too obvious, but seeing the pores of actor’s skin was not necessary. In fact, it was extremely distracting. I found myself dozing off, and if it wasn’t for the ONE explosion in the movie, I would have. DiCaprio, in this film is like asking Sinatra to chant in a monotone. My point is this: A great artist was wasted. Sadly, my dissatisfaction with the film in general, soured my opinions about the other great performers that were sprinkled throughout the movie. One and one-half binoculars is my rating and this mostly for set-direction and score.

(G) I really WANTED to like this film for two main reasons. First, I often am accused of being too hard on Clint Eastwood as a director. I thought that this would be a chance for him to prove me wrong about his heavy-handed direction and unnecessarily frequent close-ups without any dialogue. I also think that Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the finest actors we have in America today. Too often, however he seems to take on roles that rely almost entirely on his acting ability. As we know, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “a single actor doth not a movie make.” Unfortunately, J Edgar’s full value is summed up in a final line in the film, (again I paraphrase) that we are doomed to repeat history that we don’t know anything about. In this case, J Edgar Hoover the first director of the FBI held sway over the Bureau and many presidents and related world figures for almost forty years. By now, however, there is probably not a single person on the planet who doesn’t understand the concept that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We should not have to pay $10 and sit through an incredibly boring movie for reinforcement of that concept. There are literally thousands of bloggers (and other fine, real journalists) out there who are reinforcing this tidbit of knowledge with us on a daily basis, for free or nearly free, and if I am reading a column or blog and feel as though I am falling asleep I can turn the page, click elsewhere or even nod off without feeling guilty. I didn’t have those options with this film. I give it a reluctant 2 binoculars and only because of my preconception that DiCaprio is a fine actor. I think Barbara will probably regale us on the horrors of bad make-up in combination with unnecessary close-ups in high definition, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Puss In Boots

PUSS IN BOOTS—Directed by Chris Miller/Written by Charles Perrault (character), Brian Lynch, and 3 more credits /Staring Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis/PG/90 min.

B) What can I say about Puss in Boots? I just love Puss. He doesn’t have to do anything. I just think he is the cutest, most infectious little creature and when he opens his mouth to speak I am totally hooked. Therefore, I might be might a little bias. I could sit and watch his expressions all day. The other characters were mediocre by comparison, but there were some memorable puns. When Humpty is address by a scornful Puss, Puss uses his middle name, just as a parent might. He calls him Humpty Alexander Dumpty. It gives a whole new meaning to the character and the relationship. Puss's attempted hypnotic spell is also hilarious. Overall though, the story was not all that important. For me, it was all about Puss, played by Antonio Banderas. I don’t usually do this, but I give an animated feature four binoculars.

G) Come on, think about it. A tiny kitten with huge eyes mews through a few scenes then, when he demonstrates he CAN speak English, this baby cat opens his mouth and speaks with the Spanish accent of Antonio Banderas. Every time I think about that, I smile. Whoever thought to have Antonio Banderas as the voice of Puss in Boots is a genius. In fact, I was much more impressed with the whole film than Barbara, even though she already gave it a four. I thought Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Dumpty and Salma Hayek as Kitty Soft Paws were also perfectly cast. As for the story? Well, I think a lot of time was spent on making standard children’s storybook characters interesting to adults and there was enough hidden in the one liners that it worked for me. I also loved, for instance, when a young Puss brings home a unconscious bird to his adopted mother because he cannot express his gratitude in any other way except to be the cat that he is. Now, Barbara is a hard nut to crack. She’s gone out of her way to avoid most animated films except Shrek, and that led her to her affair with Puss. She even waited over sixty years to see The Wizard of Oz because it was “almost animated.” I still believe that the voice of Antonio Banderas (I sometimes go around the house saying out loud, with a Spanish accent...Antonio Bandares, Antonio Banderas, Antonio Banderas) is the key factor for her review, and I have to admit, it’s mine as well. PLEASE don’t let this film compete with a live action movie for Best Picture at the Academy Awards this year, but three binoculars is my summation and that gives us an average of three and a half binocs.