Quick Takes on a Bunch of Film-Type Moving Pictures

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I’m really really really sorry, but I’ve been really really really busy.

Real quick, and like you care anymore, what with most of these films being three years old already:

Lincoln: Script good not great, played too much to a 21st-century audience. So glad they didn’t show the assassination. To watch that man die would have been unbearable. And how good was Day Lewis? If Lincoln were to come back from the dead, someone would shoot him again, just because he wasn’t as good as Daniel Day Lewis.

Silving Linings Playbook: Performances so giddy and full of life that they transcended utterly ridiculous script. A mental-illness rom-com with . . . a happy ending. Geodon, Geodon, wherefore art thou, Geodon?

Django Unchained: If you can remember it’s a comedy, you’ll be fine. Underrated performance: Don Johnson as evil plantation owner. (Proto-Klan “my hood is broken” scene had me in stitches. But Best Screenplay? I don’t get it either…)

Zero Dark Thirty: Exactly what you would have wanted from a film on this subject: filmmakers who took a step back from the material — no judgments, just grim, almost pedestrian account. Torture scenes smack neither of Roger Corman or Michael Moore. You feel neither sympathy nor blood lust nor righteous indignation. The scenes in Pakistan are documentary chilling. Chastain’s performance could have been given by any number of talented actresses, however. Hollywood never showed its hypocrisy more than by denying director Kathryn Bigelow a nomination. Complain, complain, complain about not enough women behind the camera — and here is a genuinely gifted director, and crickets.

Jack Reacher: Here’s the thing about Tom Cruise: people love to hate him, and I can’t figure out why. I don’t care about his phony baloney religion. That’s his business. It’s not like he made Battlefield Earth. But he keeps getting miscast, film after film. And yet — he’s never really bad. Valkyrie? Last person on earth I would have cast in that role. (Well, maybe Weird Al Yankovic is literally the last person I would have cast.) And yet — he wasn’t bad. Here too. If you know anything about the original Jack Reacher character, you’re thinking someone like a young Dolph Lundgren or The Rock. But 5’7″ Tom Cruise? And yet — he’s not bad. The script was tedious, and so better casting would not have saved this thing. I would recommend watching it on cable or via Netflix, though, just for the great Werner Herzog — director of such films as Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre Wrath of God — playing the perfect Bond villain, and for Robert Duvall, just because he’s Robert Duvall. And if you want to catch a performance by Cruise in which he shines like a solar flare and blows away the competition, rent the putrid Rock of Ages, which is about Moral Majority types going after . . . rock n roll. In the 1980s. Right. Missed it by that much, or about 30 years. (Maybe they just confused Phyllis Schlafly and Tipper Gore.) Anyway, Cruise is fantastic, an absolute blast — and who knew he could sing?

AND…

Just caught Steven Soderbergh’s supposedly last film, Side Effects. Seriously depressed woman (Rooney Mara) is put on a conveyor belt of anti-depressants by her psychologist (Jude Law) and suffers terrible — wait for it — side effects. One side effect is so bad, a lot of people wind up in handcuffs. Quite compelling melodrama that doesn’t play like melodrama, mainly because everyone is so impassive and analytical through most of it. I do have to admit, though, that literally all the women characters in this film are either evil, weak, disloyal, or nuts. I don’t think you have to be a feminist to be disturbed by this.

AND AND, speaking of Netflix — have you seen House of Cards? Like Silver Linings Playbook, a romantic comedy about mentally ill people. That it’s the Democrats who are the evil, corrupt schemers is a nice change of pace for Hollywood. But remember: the only reason Republicans don’t play much of a role here is because they’re thought irrelevant. The Dems may be sociopaths, but they’re sociopaths on the right side of history.

Speaking of which: I’d appreciate it if you’d bookmark Intercollegiatereview.com, as I will be posting other kinds of stuff there every now and again. (For example, on Monday my post will be “This Is You, on the Wrong Side of History.”)

Thanks — and you stay classy, San Diego.

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6 Responses to Quick Takes on a Bunch of Film-Type Moving Pictures

  1. sheliawatson says:

    I’m really really really glad you’re back.

    Agree with you on Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. Haven’t seen the others, and quite frankly, don’t plan to.

    Like

  2. cheri' says:

    A breath of spring!
    I am also glad to FINALLY read a new post from you.
    Will be bookmarking and lurking for more of your insights.
    Tom Cruise fascinates me as well. Now I will have to see Rock of Ages.
    Thank you and thank you, again.

    Like

  3. Linda Cole says:

    Loved the reviews! Agree about Zero Dark Thirty!

    Sent from my iPhone

    Like

  4. Judith Sears says:

    I may just have to check out Rock of Ages. Robert Downey Jr got all the press for his blackface turn in Tropic Thunder, but I thought Tom Cruise nearly stole the show with his Les Grossman.

    Like

  5. Lars Walker says:

    It’s almost worth your hiatuses, because it’s such a joy when you return. And yes, I’m working on the article.

    Like

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