What movies disappointed you?

Going to a movie these days requires a microloan. With the price of tickets, the obligatory overfilled popcorn and two huge drinks that you need two hands to hold, a movie date runs US$40 or more. Once you are settled in your seats, you are tempted by movie trailers of future movies, which you and your date will comment on regarding the relative merits of seeing each.

One of the disappointments in going to the movies is seeing one for which you had high expectations, but it falling flat. Some comedies will have their only funny scenes in the trailers. Once you see the movie, you realize that you had already seen its Sunday best and could have saved yourself $40. Or, you may select one based on the cast of stars, only to realize that familiar faces cannot perfume a pig. Or, it may be based on a favorite novel or TV show, and leave you lacking.

At the risk of offending those who liked these movies, a few that come to mind are as follows. If you agree or disagree, please do not hesitate to reiterate or challenge my opinion. Maybe, I need to give some a second look. But, note I prefer plot and dialogue in movies. Action movies are fine, but they need to have a story somewhere within.

August, Osage County – This movie had all the making of a great film, with Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Chris Cooper leading a very good cast. Yet, unless you like dysfunctional families that are not very endearing, screaming at each other for the duration of the movie, you might want to pass.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – The original version starred Audrey Hepburn (who I adore) and George Peppard as two people who made a habit of leeching off other people. So, it was hard to pull for these less than endearing people. Yet, what made this movie voted the second most racist movie of all time is Mickey Rooney playing an over the top Asian-American man who lived in the upstairs apartment. For younger folks, Rooney is not Asian and his portrayal of this character was offensive. The movie highlight is the introduction of the song “Moon River.”

Austin Powers Films – I generally like Mike Myers, but I must confess my wife is not a huge fan. But, at the recommendation of Bob, a good friend, who said we must see this movie, we shelled out our $40. About halfway through the movie, my wife looks at me and says “I am going to kill Bob.” I know many liked this series of movies, but it was way too childish for my tastes. I may get some pushback on this one, but we stopped at one Austin Powers movie.

Tarzan, the Ape Man – I hesitated to put this on the list, as several guys went with me to see Bo Derek (of the movie “Ten”) tell the Tarzan story from Jane’s perspective. We should have known better, so technically it could have been left off this list. After a few minutes you realize that her beauty cannot overcome a very terrible movie. We should have also realized the movie “Ten” was good because of Dudley Moore’s bumbling comedy, not Derek’s ten-like looks.

A Bridge Too Far – This movie was not horrible, but it had one of the largest, most elite casts I have ever seen. It had the makings of a great, blockbuster film. It is a WWII movie about a failed mission, which should have been a clue to the producers. It just meandered through to an unexciting end. If it came up for free access, I may watch it to see if I missed something, but would not spend money to rent it.

The Razor’s Edge – One of the most poorly titled movie’s ever, starring Bill Murray. This movie left you nowhere near the edge of your seat as it plodded along. Even though it is based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham, it left me wanting so much more. Since that was the theme of the book, maybe wanting more from the movie was a goal, which was successfully met.

Please offer up some of your disappointments. I recognize movie disappointments do not compare well to the problems in our world, but please look at this as a diversion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two movie reviews – one must see, one must not

We have a wonderful, locally and colorfully run video store in my city. It is organized in a genre fashion, with new releases on one wall. The manager and staff are eclectic people with large hearts and extensive movie knowledge, so it makes it a fun excursion when we go. We stopped by and picked up a couple of new releases to view this long weekend – “August: Osage County” and “The Book Thief.” I will not spoil these movies, but provide observations of what is in store for you if you rent them.

“August: Osage County” is a well-directed and well acted movie about one of the most dysfunctional families you will witness. We rented it because of the talented list of actors: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney, Abigail Breslin, Juliette Lewis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Margo Martindale, Sam Shepard, Julianne Nicholson, et al. With that said, unless your goal is to watch a loud and hateful train wreck of a family to make you feel better about your own challenges, my suggestion is to put it back on the shelf. There are only three redeeming characters in the whole movie, with all the others cursing and yelling throughout.

On the flip side, “The Book Thief” was a terrific movie based on the novel by Markus Zusak and set in Nazi Germany prior to and through World War II. Liesel is an adopted girl whose little brother dies on the train ride to their adopted family. She becomes the book thief, as she wants to learn to read and is encouraged by her adopted Papa and a young Jewish man, Max, who they are hiding in their basement. Liesel is played by Sophie Nelisse, while Geoffrey Rush plays a very kind-hearted Papa to his wife’s pragmatic and cool Mama played by Emily Watson. Ben Schnetzer plays Max.

Liesel is befriended by a young boy Rudy who is loyal to her. Yet, she has to keep the secret of their family’s hiding of Max or all of them will get in trouble. So, she cannot tell even Rudy until he surmises later what’s happening. The key to the movie is her love of books and how they are essential to keeping their humanity when all around them human decency is under brutal attack. This love of reading befriends her to even the burgermeister’s wife who helps because of her own love of reading, at a time when books are being burned. The woman observes Liesel saving a book from a smoldering fire as she looks on forelornly.

So, I would highly recommend the latter movie and advise you to stay away from the former. “The Book Thief” is also well acted, but the story has characters and a plot that have redeeming value to them.  While drawn to Sophie, I particularly liked Rush’s Papa character. If you have seen either or both movies, I would love to hear your thoughts. Also, if you read “The Book Thief” which I have not, please let me know how it stacks up to the movie and vice-versa.