The Monuments Men – Review May16

The Monuments Men – Review...

There’s nothing like a transatlantic flight boasting the choice of 40 or so movies to watch. Thank you, United Airlines. After Anchorman 2 ended, I went straight into The Monuments Men. From the first preview I saw of The Monuments Men, I knew I had to see this movie. The story looked great and the cast looked even better. The Monuments Men was initially scheduled to be released in prime Oscar-bait season. And then it wasn’t. Word on the street was that the special effects weren’t ready, causing the movie to be delayed a couple of months. When it finally was released, the reviews were so-so, and the word on the street changed to the special effects were fine the whole time, but that the studio delayed it because the movie itself wasn’t very good. Having finally seen the movie, I put no stock in the movie being delayed on its merit. The Monuments Men is great, and is definitely worth watching. In The Monuments Men, George Clooney’s Frank Stokes leads a small group of men to steal priceless art. Think Ocean’s 11 meets Indiana Jones, an Ocean’s ’45. The entire movie has a race-like feel to it. Can Stokes’s group recover the stolen art before the Russians take it for themselves or the Nazis destroy it? Motivation separates Stokes’s crew from the Russians. The Russians want the art for themselves, but Stokes and company have pledged to return the stolen art back to the original owners, which sets up the Americans, British and French as the heroes of this movie. The characters are all filled with charm and enjoy terrific chemistry between each other. I loved the snappy banter between George Clooney and Matt Damon, and between Bill Murry and Bob Balaban. The...

Gravity – Review Nov19

Gravity – Review...

When I first saw the trailer for Gravity, I thought it looked stunning. At the same time, I also thought it looked like it might be incredibly boring. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney stranded in space? With no aliens or laser guns? I had the feeling this would be the outer space version of Open Water*. *Note: I have never seen Open Water, but I have always pictured it as the ocean version of what I thought Gravity would be. I wanted Gravity to be a suspenseful thriller. Luckily, if it turned out to be boring, I was in the right theater. I caught Gravity at my new favorite movie theater, the AMC on Broadway and 84th. If the movie was a snoozer, at least I’d be snoozing in an oh comfy recliner for the next two hours. Win-win! Unfortunately for nap time, Gravity is a really good thriller. It’s a classic man-versus-nature story, even though most of the dangers from nature are man made. The premise for Gravity is very simple: an accident causes a chain reaction of satellites to explode, sending deadly shrapnel at 50,000 mph at our stranded astronauts . They need to get to the International Space Station for a ride home before being eviscerated by said shrapnel or running out of air. I wasn’t sure how the story was going to sustain itself for the length of the movie, but it did. I was on the edge of my seat, which is quite an accomplishment for a movie when the viewer is in a recliner. Besides being a great thriller, Gravity is visually stunning. I wanted to see Gravity on the IMAX in 3D, but waited too long. It’s been booted off every IMAX in the New York City area...

At The Theater #2: The Descendents Feb09

At The Theater #2: The Descendents...

The Descendants is a fantastic movie. I definitely recommend seeing it. The acting was fantastic across the entire cast, but especially from George Clooney and Shailene Woodley, who plays Clooney’s eldest daughter Alex. These two are tremendous. Despite living in paradise, all of the characters in The Descendants are being weighed down by life. No matter how good they have it, no one has it good in this movie, not even perennially amused Sid.I’ve now seen two of this year’s Best Picture nominees. While I liked The Descendants a lot, I liked Midnight in Paris more. I’m still rooting for Woody Allen’s time travel romantic comedy to take the top prize this year. But I do hope that Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash win for Writing (Adapted Screenplay), partially because I think they did a great job on this script and partially because I’m big fan of Community and want the man who gives us Dean Pelton to win.I could also see The Descendants winning for Film Editing. I’m surprised to see it wasn’t nominated for Cinematography as well. I thought the camera work was superb.Go see The...

On The Couch #13: The Men Who Stare at Goats Apr04

On The Couch #13: The Men Who Stare at Goats...

I couldn’t help but think of Lost while watching The Men Who Stare at Goats. If the Dharma Initiative were run by the US Army, I think the end result would be The New World Army. The Dharma Army wants you! Similar to the Dharma Initiative, The New World Army waas the US Army’s foray into psychic warfare. Soldier turned smelly hippie turned smelly hippie soldier Jeff Bridges writes a manual for unlocking the mind’s true potential, a program that consists mainly of yoga, tai chi, and moustache growing. It’s never stated explicitly, but if you have any desire to harness the true potential of your mind, it seems you have to grow a bitchin’ ‘stache. Don’t be fooled by the hair, his power is in his moustache. And man, what things the powers unlocked by a bitchin’ ‘stache can do! Kill goats by staring at them for a few hours, make clouds disappear by staring at them and possibly running through walls (though there’s always the risk your ‘stache isn’t bitchin’ enough yet and you just end up with a concussion). The Lost parallel goes a little further. Half the movie is set in the present day, with Ewan McGregor playing a reporter researching what happened to The New World Army after its disbanding and the other half of the movie taking place in the past, showing Jeff Bridges’ recruitment and development of The New World Army. The main reason that Ewan McGregor is doing this research is because his wife in the movie, played by Rebecca Mader aka Charlotte from Lost, has cheated on him with his one-handed editor, and he feels he needs to prove himself in her eyes to win her back. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll have plenty...

At the Theater #3: Up in the Air Jan23

At the Theater #3: Up in the Air...

The central theme of Up in the Air is rejection. Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, rejects anything that will keep him tied down: his family, a furnished apartment, a closet full of clothes, preferring to live in the places in between. Those places in-between are sky high, in the first class section of American Airlines. Ryan’s best friends are the magnetic stripes of his various loyalty program cards, allowing him to rush past lines. What he’s rushing to isn’t his destination though, it’s his first class airline seat. No one is immune to rejection to the movie. As a professional firer, Clooney delivers corporate rejection. His protégé and nemesis, Cornell grad and corporate up and comer Natalie, played by Twilight’s Anna Kendrick, is initially rejected by Clooney and faces further rejection as the film goes on. Clooney’s family starts out being rejected by him and it isn’t long before they start rejecting each other. Anyone is any kind of relationship, familial, romantic or corporate, is sent through the ringer. It’s a very good movie and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Clooney get as many award nominations for this as he did for Michael Clayton two years ago. But if any actor in this movie deserves an award, it’s J.K. Simmons. He makes every movie he’s in better. Jason Reitman knows this and was smart to cast him again. Whenever I see his name in a film’s opening credits, I smile, because not matter what part he’s given, his scenes shine. He has a small part here, as a father of two who laid off by Ryan and Natalie but man does he shine. He has to be the most under-rated actor working in Hollywood today. If any actor makes the transition over...

At The Movies #2: The Fantastic Mr. Fox Jan17

At The Movies #2: The Fantastic Mr. Fox...

First off, I apologize for the delay is getting this post out. When George Clooney heard I was going to blow the whistle on The Fantastic Mr. Fox’s true motivation, he did everything in his power to keep me from posting this. I still walk down the street looking over my shoulder, knowing that he’s out there, ready to take me out with a Facts of Life Boxed Set. It took me a little time, but I figured out the true purpose of The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It is to ready children to accept George Clooney as their heist movie star of choice. It was a cunning move on Mr. Clooney’s part. After seeing competition emerging from Clive Owen and Jason Statham, Clooney, using his Danny Ocean-like razor sharp mind, decided that the true way to box office gold is through the next generation. I didn’t know that The Fantastic Mr. Fox revolved around a heist when I entered the Brooklyn Heights Cinema to see it. I never read the Roald Dahl book. And Mr. Fox’s uncanny resemblance to Nintendo character Star Fox caused me to unintentionally think the movie took place in outer space.     Wrong Mr. Fox But once the movie gets underway, it’s easy to spot this as a children’s primer for Ocean’s 11. It could have been called Fox’s 11 with no problem. Clooney’s Mr. Fox, just like his Danny Ocean, assembles a team of individuals of various backgrounds, sizes and abilities to take what he wants. Casino chips are replaced with chickens, but the plot is basically the same. The mole even bears a more than passing resemblance to Carl Reiner. Same Person? The similarities don’t end there. Danny Ocean is a snappy dresser. As is Mr. Fox.                                                                You would...