Currently browsing the "So So DVDs" category.

Take This Waltz

Take This Waltz is one of those indies that I kept thinking might have a different sense of pace and was maybe just going to take a bit of breath before it got going, and then it would make the ride worth my time. But sadly, I was wrong. It promises to be a love story, but love is what is missing. Instead there is a lot of weird cutsieness that I guess is supposed to be a good substitute for romance, but ends up being pretty annoying.

Arbitrage

Arbitrage is already out on DVD, so this brief review falls into the ‘better late than never’ category. I actually watched Arbitrage on the heels of Flight and it made for a rather interesting double feature. Both movies star extremely watchable men (Denzel Washington in Flight, Richard Gere in Arbitrage) playing extremely flawed and conflicted characters that you can’t help but root for on some level — even when they’re being total jackasses. You can read more about Flight here. As for Arbitrage, it’s a much quieter drama that never quite gets off the ground.

Ruby Sparks

I went into this film knowing absolutely nothing about it, except that Mainstream Chick had seen it and thought maybe as the Arty One, I would get something from it that she did not. Sadly, that is not the case. It is simply one of those interesting concepts that never makes the leap to the screen. The movie stars Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) as Calvin, a “genius” writer who’s had one early mega-success, but now struggles with severe writer’s block. So his therapist suggests he write just one page, which he is given permission to do badly. And that night a vivid dream about a kooky girl he meets in the park inspires him to run to his old fashioned typewriter, and the prose just pours out onto the page.

The Conspirator

Seems I am destined to watch period movies centered on wronged women. My second of the weekend is Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, which tells the true story of Mary Surratt who was accused of helping plot Lincoln’s assassination. Robin Wright (formerly Penn) plays Surratt, the only woman charged in the conspiracy along with 6 men and the first woman executed by the US government. James McAvoy plays Frederick Aiken the young lawyer who reluctantly took her case.

Limitless

Limitless is okay, but The Adjustment Bureau is better. So if you’re wavering between the two, stick with TAB and Matt Damon. However, if you’ve already seen TAB and are looking for something in the same bailiwick and you like Bradley Cooper (and his sparkling blue eyes) then Limitless is a serviceable sci-fi drama.

The White Ribbon

The White Ribbon won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and the 2010 Golden Globe for best foreign film and seemed to have a lock on winning the Academy Award as well, but was surprisingly bested by The Secret in their Eyes. And now, having seen both, I understand why. The Golden Globes are voted on by a small group of foreign journalists, while the Academy Awards are decided by mostly American viewers. The sensibilities could not be more different.

He’s Just Not That Into You

Sorry but I just wasn’t that into this movie. I really wanted to be. I even bought it the day it came out on DVD to take with me on vacation. But it was like the good-looking guy on a first date who you really, really want to like because the package is so nice, then he starts talking about himself incessantly and picking his teeth and you realize you should probably get out as soon as you possibly can but you stick around to the end of the date because the cocktails are good.

Australia

I kind of wanted to see it when it was in the theaters, but it didn’t stay around that long and I missed it. Glad I saved the 9 bucks. Australia is a mess. There are four writers credited and I suspect there were lots more. And Good God, it is long! And what is it really about? Who’s story is it? Is it the beautiful boy’s? He is the best part, but even there the story is a muddle. As for genres, it’s western/romance/war epic/political drama with a dash of the Wizard of Oz for good measure. And it is one layer of cliches on top of another. Oh, and about that romance — the chemistry between Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman is not even remotely there. The politically correct thread about the treatment of the Aborigines is just not that affecting. In fact, none of the epic qualities that they tried for really work. They have so many elements here to work with– the vast otherness of Australia, the archetypal evil rival cattlemen, the dark coming of the war, the upper crust English lady cum fish out of water meets outback Drover romance, the wickedly misguided white people stealing the Aborigine children — and yet there is no focus. They are trying to tell too many stories at once and end up seeming to say nothing.