Thursday, March 8, 2012

Outsider Art at the 5-Point Cafe

Scribbings found on stall door at the 5 Point:

Love for Adam Schlesinger

You're Welcome

The Heart Sucks...

Margaret (2011)

I wanted to love it. Had no doubts that I would. Then, I saw it and everything changed.

Margaret--After the Bad Thing happensThe first hour wasn’t bad. Then, Margaret led me into perplexing tangents that dead-ended and left me disappointed and cold (the theater was freezing). It was a meandering mess that held me hostage for 2.5 hours.

New York teen Lisa (Anna Paquin, you know she will have at least one topless scene) is on a quest for a cowboy hat. While out and about, she witnesses a traffic fatality. Feeling complicit, she sets out to do right by the victim. As she gets more vested, the situation creates emotional turbulence. Her mother, Joan (J. Smith-Cameron), a stage actress. is having problems relating to Lisa’s increasingly explosive reactions. Joan starts dating Ramon (Jean Reno). Their budding relationship is boring and painful to watch; I didn’t understand the point of it. Even Joan seems uninterested. Lisa becomes increasingly desperate as she loses more control in her quest to do The Right Thing. Lisa’s father, Karl (director Kenneth Lonergan) is selfish and unsupportive. He’s just one more unlikeable character in this parade of many.

What happened? Margaret needed focus and editing. The story took on more than it could resolve, resulting in an unsatisfactory experience.

Director: Kenneth Lonergan

Country: USA

Genre: Drama

Run time: 150 very long minutes

Scale: 2

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Young Adult, Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol & One for the Money

Young AdultYoung Adult (2011): This was not a comedy; it’s more of a kick in the stomach (that’s meant in a good way). Mavis (Charlize Theron) is ghost writer for a wildly successful young adult novel series living in Minneapolis. On a lark, she returns to the small Minnesota town of her youth to win back her high school boyfriend, Buddy (Patrick Wilson). She won’t be deterred by minor details such as his wife and newborn. Richly nuanced, Young Adult offers an unusual yet powerful paining of Mavis and Matt (Oswalt Patton) a high-school classmate of Mavis’s wrongly pegged as gay and nearly beaten to death. Chock-full of tension, cringe-worthy situations, damaged characters and facial expressions that make the character of Mavis. See it.

Dubai   Mission-impossible-ghost-protocolMission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011): Visually delightful stunts but a convoluted story I cared little about. Failed chemistry between Ethan (Tom Cruise) and Jane (Paula Patton). Maybe if you are fan of the franchise, you will be happy—I applaud you. Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner are highlights. Overall, not impressed.

One for the MoneyOne for the Money (2012): Led astray by trailers that made it look funny, suspenseful and quirky. Unemployed Stephanie (Katherine Heigl) takes a job as a bailbond's woman. Soon, she is on the trail of a corrupt cop, Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara) who turns out to be an old high-crush (of course!). The laughs lack originality and there is no real conflict. Despite an impressive cast, it was empty entertainment. Heigl is charismatic and a the bright spot in this ridiculous farce but it’s not enough (I hope the book offers more). It’s a bad sign when Groupon pushes the movie and pre-movie reviews aren’t released.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Lincoln Lawyer, Insomnia & Hesher

Life got in the way and I put down the pen. I didn’t stop seeing movies. Nor did I stop contemplating juicy scenes, indulging in witty dialogue or mulling over details that didn’t make sense.

To catch up, I’m doing shorter reviews and grouping entries.

The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011): Much better than expected with several Hollywood heavy-hitters. Criminal defense lawyer Mickey (Matthew McConaughey) conducts business from his Lincoln Continental (with his own driver) to faster navigate the highways and roads connecting the Los Angeles courthouses. He lands a high-profile case that could prove his chops, but causes trouble in his personal life. The chemistry between his ex Maggie (Marisa Tomei) and Mickey sizzles. Frank (William H. Macy), Mickey’s investigator, is snatched from the movie too soon. McConaughey continues to excel in his dramatic roles—see Thirteen Conversations About One Thing.


Insomnia (1997): During a serial killing investigation, detective Jonas Engström (Stellan Skarsgård) lies and covers up an error that may sabotage the investigation. Set against Sweden’s 24 hours of sun and Engström’s lack of sleep, Insomnia still lacks more complexity in some of its characters. None is very engaging; they are distant and unlikeable. The elder Skarsgård and his son, Alexander (Eric Northman on True Blood), possess the same sinister smile.

Hesher (2010): TJ (Devin Brochu) is Hesherdealing with a huge loss. His mother has just died; his father (Rainn Wilson) is debilitatingly depressed as a result, and grandma (Piper Laurie) is on a mental decline. TJ is left to fend for himself, when Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) appears and creates further complications. Taken at face value, Hesher is  crap; watching it with other angles in mind (such as the possibility that the Hesher is TJ’s rage about his mother’s death personified) is more compelling. Despite being a one-dimensional, mostly unlikeable character, Gordon-Leavitt’s Hesher steals every scene.