Of all the pretty faces and talented comedians to populate "When in Rome," the funniest co-star is the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
"Shutter Island" starts working on us with the first musical notes under the Paramount mountain, even before the film starts. They're ominous and doomy. So is the film. This is Martin Scorsese's evocation of the delicious shuddering fear we feel when horror movies are ABOUT something and don't release all the tension with action scenes.
I've heard of all-star casts, but "Valentine's Day" has a complete star cast. What did other movies do for talent when this one was filming? It has 21 actors who can be considered stars, and some are very big stars indeed. It's like the famous poster for "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," with a traffic jam of famous faces.
Every movie involving superheroes requires an origin story, and "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" has a doozy.
Authors and filmmakers have come up with endless ways to inject fresh blood into the vampire, while the werewolf generally has been left out there alone on the moors, howling at the moon.
Some actors are blessed. Jeff Bridges is one of them. Ever since his first starring role in "The Last Picture Show" in 1971, he has, seemingly without effort, created a series of characters who we simply believe, even the alien "Starman." He doesn't do this with mannerisms but with their exclusion; his acting is as clear as running water. Look at him playing Bad Blake in "Crazy Heart." The notion of a broke-down, boozy country singer is an archetype in pop culture. We've seen this story before. The difference is, Bad Blake makes us believe it happened to ...
Lasse Hallstrom's "Dear John" tells the heartbreaking story of two lovely young people who fail to find happiness together because they're trapped in an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Their romance leads to bittersweet loss that's so softened by the sweet characters that it feels like triumph. If a Sparks story ended in happiness, the characters might be disappointed. They seem to have their noble, resigned dialogue already written. Hemingway wrote one line that could substitute for the third act of every Sparks story: "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
In the space of just a few weeks, we have movies starring Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and John Travolta. It's like the early '90s all over again.
Let's see. Jackie Chan is a spy working for China and the CIA, who falls in love with a widow with three kids. He retires to be with them, but his job follows him home. Mom goes to be with her sick dad. Evil Russians have a plot to control the world's oil supply, and this requires them to chase Jackie and the kids through shopping malls, large empty factories and so on. Jackie's character is named Bob Ho, which reminds me of someone.
Can we think of Mel Gibson simply as an action hero? A star whose personal baggage doesn't upstage his performances? I find that I can. He has made deplorable statements in recent years, which may be attributed to a kind of fanatic lunacy that can perhaps be diagnosed as a disease. The fact remains that in "Edge of Darkness" he remains a likable man with a natural screen presence.
In the pantheon of such legends as Santa Claus and the Bogeyman, the Tooth Fairy ranks down in the minor leagues, I'd say, with Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny. There is a scene in "Tooth Fairy" when the hero is screamed at by his girlfriend for even BEGINNING to suggest to her 6-year-old that there isn't a Tooth Fairy, but surely this is a trauma a child can survive. Don't kids simply humor their parents to get the dollar?
"Extraordinary Measures" is an ordinary film with ordinary characters in a story too big for it. Life has been reduced to a Lifetime movie. The story, based on fact, is compelling: Two sick children have no more than a year to live when their father determines to seek out a maverick scientist who may have a cure. This is "Lorenzo's Oil" with a different disease, Pompe disease, although it fudges the facts to create a better story. The film centers on two dying children, 9 and 7. In life, most children with Pompe die before age 2, and those ...
I'm at a loss for words, so let me say these right away: "The Book of Eli" is very watchable. You won't be sorry you went. It grips your attention, and then at the end throws in several WTF! moments, which are a bonus. They make everything in the entire movie impossible and incomprehensible - but, hey, WTF.
"The Lovely Bones" is a deplorable film with this message: If you're a 14-year-old girl who has been brutally raped and murdered by a serial killer, you have a lot to look forward to. You can get together in heaven with the other teenage victims of the same killer and gaze down in benevolence upon your family members as they mourn you and realize what a wonderful person you were. Sure, you miss your friends, but your fellow fatalities come dancing to greet you in a meadow of wildflowers, and how cool is that?
Michael Cera is not a sissy. It's more like he's unusually ... diffident. Laid back to a point approaching the horizontal. Yet he yearns. He's so filled with desire it slops over. I speak not of the real Cera, unknown to me, but of the persona he has perfected in such movies as "Superbad," "Juno," "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" and "Paper Heart."