The Lego Movie

February 16, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Posted in 2014 | Leave a comment
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This is the second time in a row that I feel mislead by Rotten Tomatoes, whose critics gave this film a stellar 96%. However, I found this odd blend of “The Matrix” and “The Princess Bride” to be only okay.  It certainly had its charming moments and its funny moments and its visually beautiful moments but they were all just moments in a film that could also be cloying, a visual blur and a bit dull.  The movie relied much more on rapid “Transformer”-style action sequences than it needed to. I found hard to follow and they slowed the story down.  I was much more interested when the characters were talking.  The dialogue could, at times, be very witty, with clever pop-culture references everywhere. It seems that half of Hollywood wanted to prove they were hip enough to be in this movie (some of them were willing to show up for just 1 line, presumably so that their names could show up in the credits): Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Dave Franco, Shaquille O’Neal, Elizabeth Banks (Effie in all the “Hunger Games” movies), Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”), Alison Brie (“Community”), Nick Offerman (“Parks & Recreation”), Chris Pratt (also “Parks & Rec”), Keegan-Michael Key (“Key & Peele”), Will Forte (“Nebraska” & SNL), Anthony Daniels (yes, the Anthony Daniels who was C3PO), Billy Dee Williams… It is a bit ridiculous. With all of that talent, I might have expected to enjoy myself more.  In the end, it wasn’t a bad movie and I really did laugh a few times.  It’s just really not a 96%.  That’s all I’m saying.

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Stranger by the Lake (L’inconnu du lac)

February 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Posted in 2014 | Leave a comment

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I wish I had had a more auspicious start to the films of 2014.  I had such high hopes for this French film, which has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.  However, this sexually explicit gay murder thriller did something I would not have guessed; it bored me.  Personally, I struggle with the way French films build tension.  I find that they often plod along with long silences and inexplicable scenes.  This was true here.  Despite the movies initial promise, it never really delivers any excitement or danger.  What we do get lots of is very graphic scenes of men cruising and having sex (and I do mean extremely graphic — we do actually watch an ejaculation at one point).  You might think that would be exciting, too, but it’s not.  In fact it is so passionless and is such a barrage on screen that I found myself numbed by it and, yes, bored.  I was also a bit troubled by the over-arching message of the film, which seemed to be that gay men eschew real intimacy in favor of rote, compulsive sex and have no core sense of morals when faced with evil.  Not only do I not find that to be accurate but it also robs the story of the opportunity to develop any meaningful tension and it robs the audience of anyone to relate to.  The men are beautiful, I will give you that.  And, if staring at beautiful naked men for almost the entire 100 minutes is appealing enough, then don’t let me hold you back.  For me, though, this movie reminded me of nothing so much as (with 70s mustache included) a combination of “Cruising” and “Cache.”  And that’s just not a combo that worked for me.

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