Our Holiday Greeting...
Friday, December 21, 2012
Anna Karenina--Directed by Joe Wright/Starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law/screenplay by Tom Stoppard from a novel by Leo Tolstoy/rated R/ 130 mins
(B) I love classic stories like Anna Karenina, but I was so distracted by the sets in this version that I could not enjoy the romantic story that I came to see. I think the director wanted it to seem like “ life’s a stage and we are all merely players,” to quote Shakespeare. There were scenes that started with a bed on a stage and ended in fields of grass that were inside a home. Another scene was in a grand ballroom with strange kinds of backstage equipment. This did not work for me. Keira was very good, as she is in all these familiar aristocratic roles she plays. I was impressed with Jude Law’s performance also, as the cuckold husband, but I think the role of Anna’s lover was miscast. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as count Vronsky was too pretty. Anna’s lover should not be prettier than the title character. Taylor-Johnson also lacked that it factor for me. A less pretty and more charismatic male would have worked better. The costumes and sets were absolutely outstanding, particularly the scenes where everything was in white. There was a very lilting score in this movie that I am hoping will be recognized. I give this film three binoculars, mostly for music and costumes.
(OG) What is it with the British accents in every movie that takes place in a foreign location? We’re not on the Globe Theater stage for goodness sake. It’s O.K. for actors to try and ACT, isn’t it? The only actor who attempted to sound Russian was a waiter in a restaurant scene. As a lone voice it was too obvious! Aside from that I did not think that the artsy-swartsy direction added anything to Tolstoy’s sweeping passion play about love, rules and honor in an already conflicted world. I am also never much of a fan for the upstairs downstairs scenario, no matter which floor we are concentrating on. However, I was so engrossed in some of the scenes, as the spinning camera and uninterrupted shooting dissolved from crazy set to crazy set, that it didn’t matter too much that the grandeur of the human story was being completely overshadowed. It seemed like the actors and the director may have been working from two dissimilar scripts at cross purposes. All-in-all, after days of deliberation, this was a bit of a disappointment for me. I’ll go barely two binoculars and that is mostly for the interesting, albeit unnecessary camera work.
Magic Mike—Directed by Steven Soderbergh/Starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey/screenplay by Reid Carolin/ Rated R/111 mins
Bifocal Review by Ageless1der Barbara Rich and The Other Guy
(B)Well, I wish I could take bake the 111minutes I wasted on Magic Mike. Magic Mike?
It would have been magic if they could disappear! I appreciate a beautiful male body just as much as the next gal. But, after 10 minutes I’m gonna want something else, anything else. This review didn’t take long. I don’t recommend it. I give it half a binocular just for the abs.
(OG) I guess women need stripper movies to make fun of, just like men, but I literally couldn’t justify watching the whole thing. I had to leave the room to check my email and play game apps more than once during the view of this stinker. Thank goodness we saw Magic Mike as a download! I would have felt even worse had I paid full price for a seat. What’s there to say? If you want to see a few scenes with naked male parts dominating the screen and you don’t want to take your chances with a pay-per-view porno, then this might be great for background during a girl’s t.v. watching night, when a glass of wine and conversation are more important than what’s on the screen. Otherwise, don’t expect more than the face (or full-frontal) value and please don’t expect much in the way of story or acting. This one gets only a single monocle from me (That’s one half a binocular).
The Guilt Trip—Directed by Anne Fletcher/Starring Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen/screenplay by Dan Fogelman/rated PG-13/ 95 min
Bifocal Reviews by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy
(B) As a mother of a son, a lot of the relationship in this film hit home. Barbara is a great talent, though I think little acting was required. I think she pretty much is just like the character she plays. Rogen had some very poignant scenes that worked well. The combination of comedy and a loving relationship also was a good fit. I think many mothers will see themselves in this film and laugh or even cry. Keeping this film brief was well advised. It said all it needed and left the audience amused. I give The Guilt Trip two binoculars, without any guilt.
(OG) This was cute. I am not a fan of Barbara Streisand’s singing (I know people think I’m crazy, but I’m just being honest here) but I went into the theater with an open mind on the acting. I was pleasantly surprised. Streisand and Rogen worked well together and thankfully the film lasted only an hour and a half. The conversations between son and mother were very real and I liked the relationship that these two characters had with one another. There was no reason to drag out the story and they didn’t; you came for a slightly new twist on the old road trip film, and that was what you got. I give The Guilt Trip two and a half binoculars.
Monday, December 17, 2012
Silver Linings Playbook—Directed and Written by David O. Russell from a novel by Matthew Quick/starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, John Ortiz/ 122 min/rated R
Bifocal Review by Ageless1der, Barbara Rich & The Other Guy
(B) This film was definitely a more modern kind of romantic comedy and I liked that. In fact, it was a little out there at times, in that I wasn’t really sure that it was a romantic comedy at all, but I appreciated the honesty of this film when it came to dealing with people who are perfect for each other, because they are far from perfect, like most of us. Jennifer Lawrence is headed for even greater roles as she has proven what a great and diverse actress she is. Bradley Cooper proved he could be less of a pretty boy, which had its attraction, but I found myself drawn more to Jennifer’s character. The other extended family interactions were entertaining with De Niro playing the role of Bradley’s father, a man obsessed with his home football team, Philadelphia Eagles. This movie unfolded somewhat predictably, but who doesn’t like a “feel good” ending? My review may have suffered because the film I saw just before this one was Flight, which was amazing, and a tough act to follow. I give this film 2 and half binoculars.
(OG) As this movie was presented to me as “a romantic comedy” I was on automatic prejudice against the film before entering the theater. When the movie was over however, I was so positively impressed that I had just seen something unique, a film that took risks but ended up fulfilling expectations too. The reasons for my appreciation also likely contributed to my liking the film more than Barbara in the end. Here’s why I thought this was one of the BEST romantic comedies I have ever seen: 1) Both the male and female leads were believable and most people could relate to them. 2) The dialogue was fresh. There was one scene where Cooper and Lawrence just meet and they bond over the kind of anxiety medications they’ve taken in the past. 3) Robert De Niro. I give this one three and a half binoculars because I wasn’t comparing it to any other films I’ve seen this year. That boosts the average to three, on its own merits.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Lincoln--Directed by Steven Spielberg/Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field,Tommy Lee Jones (and many others)/screenplay written by Tony Kushner, in part from a book by Doris Kearns Goodwin/2hr30min/PG-13
Bifocal Reviews by Barbara Rich & The Other Guy
(B) At times, this film played more like the History channel than a movie. It was very wordy and it covered only a short time in Lincoln’s presidential term. You could see the parallels in today’s government with it’s “tug of war” within Congress. Lincoln wanted to get the amendment to abolish slavery passed and Congress wanted to end the war first.
Lincoln fought hard and diligently to pass the amendment. Tommy Lee Jones was the scene- stealer as he played a craggy sharp-tongued abolitionist congressman. You will watch and recognize many character actors you have seen on different TV shows. I found myself saying, “I know that guy. Where have I seen him before?” Daniel Day-Lewis’ uncanny resemblance to Lincoln worked in his favor. My favorite parts of the film were Lincoln’s personal life and the powerful tenderness he showed. Sally Field’s portrayal of Mary Todd was a little over the top for me. The scenes in the White House were very dark and dreary. It gave the mood of depression, which may have been intended. This was not one of my favorite films. I can only bring myself to give this movie two and half binoculars.
(OG) We saw this film on premier day, but it has taken me this long to finally get around to having an opinion. When the movie was over, the first thing I noticed was, one person gave a single clap, but was quieted by the somber silence of the rest of the audience. It wasn’t that people hated the movie, but the all started to file out self-consciously, like they were in a mortuary at a funeral. No one knew how to react! The somber quality of the film and the audience’s reaction to it, stayed with me. As I look back now, I realize that this was about as good a biography about Lincoln as I can remember. Daniel Day-Lewis is usually too over-the-top for me, but he portrayed Lincoln perfectly, in a very personal and realistic manner. I expect another Oscar nod for him. Sally Field bothered Barbara, but I thought she performed well. I liked the acting, but Spielberg is getting a bit self-indulgently “artsy” for my taste. The lighting was dreary and dismal, even in the outside scenes. Light and shadow washes in through windows like it is the central show at times, surrounding and hiding the characters. There was one “dream” sequence that didn’t seem necessary to me. The film was just a little bit too long, boring and dreary for me to put it at the top of my repeat performance list. However, I have to recommend it to anyone who is interested in Lincoln or the fight to end slavery. There are lessons here for us all with the modern political climate. I give it three binoculars.