Saturday, March 08, 2014

February Flix

Nothing we saw in February came even close to the quality of "True Detective," but that's a pretty high standard.

Ender's Game.  Interesting and meaningful science fiction, even if it was fairly easy to figure out where it was headed.  The story might have benefited from an anthology format, where characters could have been given more depth and the themes of the story explored more deeply.  And yes, there certainly is a stark difference between the movie's message and the crackpot nature of its author.

Wuthering Heights.  Bleak. 

Austenland.  Keri Russell is really good in a story that's not much more than a trifle.

The Lone Ranger.  It had many detractors and a handful of staunch defenders (Matt Zoller Seitz most prominent among them), but for me fell somewhere in the middle.  I enjoyed it, but don't really care if I ever see it again, and I'm not sure why it had to be so long.  But I said the same things about the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies, so I'm not sure why those were wildly successful and this one was a failure of Heaven's Gate proportions. 

Don Jon.  Surprisingly deep for what was billed, more or less, as a romantic comedy.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt keeps expanding his range, and Scarlett Johansson deserves credit for playing what turns out to be such an unsympathetic character by film's end.  Which isn't to say that the Gordon-Levitt character doesn't have problems, but hey - how about a little empathy?

Lee Daniels' The Butler.  See here.

The Company Men.  Solid, if not spectacular tale of a privileged white man who finds out what life can be like for the unemployed.  You can always count on John Wells to deliver something that delivers along these lines, and you certainly can't quibble with the cast.  Kevin Costner is especially good in a role that demonstrates that he can do as much with a character role as he could as a leading man.

The Debt.  Remake of an Israeli film that depicts three Mossad agents placed in East Berlin in the mid-1960s to extract a Nazi war criminal, and the aftermath of their mission years later.  The parts of the film set in the past (Jessica Chastain, Martin Csokas and Sam Worthington are especially good) get an A+, but the portions set in the present day (even with stalwarts Helen Mirren, Ciaran Hinds and Tom Wilkinson) don't quite match that standard.  A very good, taut thriller that just missed being a classic.

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