Antonio Banderas voices the cat from Shrek 2 in this hilarious family film. It explains the legend of Puss, a one time hero who loses his status in his village due to a misunderstanding. This adventure helps him win back his honor. It involves Jack and Jill and magic beans and the golden goose and a girlfriend named Kitty Soft Paws and a not quite very nice Humpty Dumpty. What more do you want? Does it deliver what it promises? Easy to like family fare. is it entertaining? Funny on an adult and kid level. Is it worth the price of admission? Great family fun.
I just love the plotline of “In Time.” Set in the future when everyone lives to twenty five and then stops aging. After that you must buy your time on earth. So figure it out. The rich live forever and the poor die young. Justin Timberlake plays a blue collar lad who saves a rich guy from sure death in a tough bar. The rich character suffers a bad case of boredom after living two or so centuries and wants to end it. So he gives a century’s worth of time to Timberlake (all the characters have time clocks imprinted in their arms—a neat idea) and ends it all. Now the newly wealthy Timberlake has the time to visit the richest zone of his land and see how the other half live. He meets financial guru Vincent Kartheiser (the smarmy guy from “Mad Men”) and falls for Vincent’s daughter Amanda Seyfried. But the system’s Timekeepers don’t like poor kids having a lot of time and they aim to repossess his time. Timberlake grabs the girl and off they go on a Patty Hearst stlye rich versus poor spree. “In Time” zips along thanks to a tight script and really likeable performances. Sure you can laugh later at the holes in the script, but this sure is entertaining to watch. Does it deliver what it promises? neat sci fi. Is it entertaining? neat. Is it worth the price of admission? Very fun.
Elizabeth Olsen (the younger sister of the Olsen twins) makes a stunning debut in this engrossing thriller. We don’t know exactly what has happened in her early years, (divorced parents, death, cut offs?) but we do see her escape an upstate New York cult and telephone her almost extranged sister living with her husband a few hours away in a Connecticut lakehouse. The girls reunite and they (and us) begin to notice her strange behavior—swimming nude in spite of the presence of children and families, coming into her sister’s bedroom and bed in the night as she has sex with her husband. Flashbacks show her involvement in the cult and with charismatic leader John Hawkes. We don’t know how she got the nerve to escape but we see the damage inflicted on her. Olsen is a woman on the verse of breaking. A final shot speaks to her paranoia and also opens the door to further imagined horror. I wish they gave this story a better title so I’ll just call it M4 and tell you it delivers one of the most deeply disturbing experiences of the year—a true horror story and a great debut for Elizabeth Olsen. Does it deliver what it promises? Frightening. Is it entertaining? Compelling. Is it worth the price of admission? a must see for film buffs.
The crash of 2008 receives the movie it so greatly deserves in “Margin Call”—a tense, backstage drama that confirms your greatest fears. We’ve been had by a few powerful men and women who consider making and losing vast sums of money a game. The plot unwinds early one business day morning as a group of corporate lay off experts move through one floor of a vast financial firm to begin layoffs. Mid-level manager Stanley Tucci gets the bad news and mentions an analysis he insists someone needs to see. Tucci hands the analysis to young associate Zachary Quinto who continues working on it and discovers a frightening scenario: The junk bonds and default mortgages the firm has been buying and selling may bring the entire firm down. Soon that analysis works its way up the line of management until the biggest boss of all Jeremy Irons helicopters in for an all night meeting. “Margin Call” assembles a fine cast, including Kevin Spacey, Simon Baker and Demi Moore, and mentioned earlier Jeremy Irons and Zachary Quinto. “Margin Call” grabs you early and won’t let go—I couldn’t take my eyes off this remarkable drama. Does it deliver what it promises? Remarkable drama. Is it entertaining? Compelling. Is it worth the price of admission? See it—by the way this is available on demand as well as in theaters—a bow to our changing times.
Michael Shannon has my vote as one of the most extraordinary actors of our time. Some of you remember him as the troubled son in “Revolutionary Road.” He has added intensity to all of the movies that feature him, especially his latest: “Take Shelter”. Shannon plays a young blue collar worker married to Jessica Chastain. Together they have a hearing impaired daughter. Life and money don’t come easy to the couple and his health insurance looms large in their family life because of his daughter’s condition. Soon Shannon sees odd visions—birds swooping and thunder clapping and oily rain. To protect his family and to provide us with the allegory of a husband’s role, Shannon begins adding to a storm shelter in his back yard. He goes so far as to borrow home equity money to expand the shelter. Soon we learn of his mother’s struggle with schizophrenia and we suspect he has the disorder. “Take Shelter” has great tension as Shannon’s life and challenges unfold. The ending leaves you with a question mark, or at least the ability to make your own interpretation. You won’t stop thinking about “Take Shelter” long after you leave the theater. Does it deliver what it promises? Tension filled family drama well acted. Is it entertaining? Compelling and well acted. Is it worth the price of admission? Could be an Oscar contender.
George Clooney plays a presidential candidate, Ryan Gosling the man behind the candidate. Clooney directs but the movie belongs to Gosling—as a true believer who learns about politics the hard way. The opposition offers Gosling a job, and the offer leaks to the press. Suddenly the political innocent has to pull a few fast ones to keep his job. The plot thickens as Goslin accepts the overtures of sultry intern Evan Rachael Wood. This behind the scenes story unfolds in a compelling script, performed by one of the year’s best casts including Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymore Hoffman. Old school and grown up in the best sense of the word, I simply enjoyed every minute of “Ides of March.” Does it deliver what it promises? Political thriller. Is it entertaining? Great cast and script. Is it worth the price of admission? A movie like they used to make.