May 22nd, 2013

So the one thing about a long weekend when there is very little to actually do, means that there are movies to watch and get caught up on.
Midnight in Paris.   Owen Wilson.  Full stop.  I am not a fan.  Here you are engaged to the Rachel McAdams character and her girl next door, pristine, good natured onscreen persona takes a bit of a hit here.  Seems this couple is in Paris where Wilson the Hollywood screen writer is looking to get more serious and write a novel.   He is a bit stalled in the editing and reviewing process.   Not writer’s block, but looking for more inspiration.   The movie then takes a turn towards Purple Rose of Cairo where there is some surreal and unusual happenings and our hero is given ample opportunity for future material in his new career as a “serious writer”.   Suffice it to say that this was alright.  The scenery in Paris in many ways is the true star of the movie.  It makes me ache to go back to Paris once again.  And for that reason it was welcome.   Marion Cotillard is worthy to look at in whatever role she plays.  A rental as a travelog.
The Mentalist.   After watching half of this movie I decided to see what Roger thought of this movie that had multiple Oscar nominations.   Best Actor for Jacquin Phoenix, Supporting Actor for Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Supporting Actress for Amy Adams.   Two of those I understood;  Phoenix and Hoffman.  Adams surprises me.  Ebert gave this 2.5 stars.   I agreed with the review.   And echo the sentiment that there are two compelling performances here.   I will go so far as to say that without a Daniel Day Lewis performance of the ages, Phoenix is deserving of the award.   He plays a character who is a sailor but without a keel for himself.  There is no direction in his life and he seems very lost.   He starts as a seaman in the war and shows himself to be just another of the many faceless people of war.  They served.  They won, and they head back home.   Then he takes on a series of jobs where he shows his ability for concocting booze from scratch and also being unpredictable.   He ultimately meets up with Hoffman who is a charismatic L Ron Hubbard look alike.  It is on purpose.    You get some insight into the man, and those who follow him and a sense of the whatever makes him tick.   He becomes friends with the man, and together they have a strange relationship.  On one hand Phoenix is looked upon as a flawed man in need of ‘healing’.  There is a remarkable scene by Phoenix where his first healing session begins and he can’t get enough of it.   Simply remarkable.  Another in a jail cell.   It would have been a tragedy had Phoenix chosen to take his acting hiatus for good.   Because here is a man that is complex, and flawed and yet the leader seeks him out and needs him around.  Despite his issues they have this connection that is not fully explored.  And that is what the movie is about the subject matter.   Not fully explored.   We are left to form our own opinions.  I suppose I would like to see more thoughts on the whole thing rather than leave it up to interpretation.   But upon further reflection that isn’t entirely a bad thing.    There are some good Hoffman scenes too like when he is questioned by people at length about his books and his philosophy.   On to Adams, who for whatever reason grates on me.   Hollywood seems to love her.  I do not.  She seems perfect for Enchanted, as a singing and dancing princess with the 12yo girl’s voice.   She does not really strike the right tone for Lady MacBeth.   At least to me.   Here she tries.  (As an aside, if you’re going to be in a nude scene Amy, then be in a nude scene – just sayin).    Worthy performances here to catch.   A story that I am still uncertain about.
Jack Reacher.  Yet another Tom Cruise vehicle.  Presumably could be another franchise.   Here we have part Jason Bourne, part James Bond, part vigilante and part drifter.  All this wrapped up in a drama where the seemingly open and shut case for a random terrorist act is questioned and ripped apart and reviewed.   We have an act of unspeakable terror that is then taken apart but a loner who is summoned by the man accused of this act.  In comes Cruise, seemingly right on cue.   Literally and figuratively.   We know very little of him, and he does his best to try and make an entrance and then a quick exit but manages to stay around.   This plot turns around and into itself while Cruise pieces together what the D.A., the police and defense attorney all can’t seem to do.   He uncovers what appears to be some kind of scheme that won’t be revealed here.   Richard Jenkins is here and sadly underutilized.   Robert Duvall is here too.  Unexpectedly and interestingly.  This movie was more fun to watch at home because then I felt free to comment on some of the silliness.   Anyway, it passed the time.   If you want a mind bending action movie, and don’t feel like watching Jason Bourne for the umpteenth time, you can grab this one and set your mind on pause for a couple hours.   I will note further that a co-worker was a huge Jack Reacher book fan, and hated the choice of Cruise in this role.
Happy viewing!!   I WON’T be seeing The Hangover III this weekend.   Sorry Bradley Cooper I want to remember you as an ACTOR…..

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