Read the best movie reviews for the latest films showing in N Hollywood movie theatres including: Regency Theatre North Hollywood, Century 8, and Laemmle NoHo 7.
What can I say about M. Night Shamaylan’s latest exercise in tedium,The Last Airbender?To begin with, I don’t think it’s a good thing when you want all those characters who are hunting the young hero (a boy with airbending powers and a reluctant, would-be Avatar to boot) to actually catch up with him and put him—and us—out of our misery.
Predators, with a chiseled Adrien Brody in action hero mode (there’s no avoiding those soulful eyes as he tries to proclaim how soulless he is), is a pretty good thrill ride for about two-thirds of the way.
Various human predators (soldiers, convicts) are dropped in a very remote area to do battle with some skillfully constructed (go special effects!), monstrous predators. In another words, it’s The Most Dangerous Game all over again, as the unwilling but skilled human prey try to evade, outwit, and overpower the beasts, while trying to figure out how to “get off the island.” Director Nimrod Antal successfully creates a feeling of dread, and the early action sequences are savage and well-staged, even if we know it’s only a matter of time before the characters cash in their chips. However, after Lawrence Fishburne’s character is introduced-as the world’s unlikeliest stealth fighter- the movie disintegrates into a series of unlikely, prolonged battles, unnecessary sacrifices, and a few jawdropping surprises. But for about 65 minutes, the movie delivers the goods—too bad it didn’t know how to finish the trip.
After all this escapism, I escaped to Jay and Mark Duplass’ intelligent, entertaining comedy of terrors, Cyrus. A very endearing John C. Reilly is John, a divorced man on a downward spiral who drunkenly meets lovely Molly (a very appealing Marisa Tomei) and proceeds to hit it off with her—so much so, that even in the light of day, these two troubled souls seem to have found each other’s salvation.
Summer’s here and it’s popcorn movie a go-go…First, the Tom Cruise we know and occasionally like is back in James Mangold’s breezy, entertaining Knight and Day, playing a possibly rogue CIA agent who entangles a first unwilling, then willing hostage Cameron Diaz in his flight from murderous operatives and some other very bad people, all in the service of preserving a longlife battery (Duracell, it ain’t).
It’s nice to see Michael Douglas back in a good vehicle with Solitary Man. In many ways, Brian Koppleman and David Levien’s film (script by Koppleman) presents a greatest-hits display of the Douglas persona: ambitious, unscrupulous entrepreneur undone by greed and supreme hubris (following a trip to the doctor—what was in that EKG?); charming, irresponsible ex-husband, lover, father, grandfather etc; unlikely mentor.
It’s summer season at the multiplexes, and this brings out the inevitable sequels of variable quality. Shrek Forever After (in 3D!) is a pleasant surprise, a vast improvement over the last installment and while it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the first Shrek, it does have generous helpings of wit and poignancy in addition to the visual wizardry.
Nothing you have seen in your life can prepare you for something as awe-inspiring as MacGruber. No movie I have seen recently (or perhaps ever) succeeds—through an overabundance of mind-numbing ineptitude masquerading as celluloid–in alienating the audience on so many levels. But where do I begin? One can start with the character of MacGruber himself.
Michael Caine is Harry Brown says the poster…and you know what, he really is. Caine’s Harry is an elderly pensioner in South London with a dying wife and a best (only?) friend who is being harassed by the young hoods who seem to have taken over the rundown area. After enduring the death of his wife and the brutal murder of his best friend, as well as the slow response of the police, the grieving Brown slowly takes up arms—did I mention he was a former marine and Northern Island vet—and exacts, if not justice, then certainly revenge.
Before telling you how much I enjoyed City Island, I should tell you that I have never been a big Andy Garcia fan. He’s always seemed to be a little uncomfortable, especially in scenes where he emoted, or should I say over-emoted. However I started liking him, believe it or not, in the Ocean’s 11-13 movies—Garcia’s appearances as the powerful casino owner exhibited menace as a well as a welcome sense of humor. Now with his role as a prison guard who dreams of being an actor, Garcia has finally turned me into a full fan.
The new ghost writer (Euan McGreggor) for the former British Prime Minister Adam Lang’s memoirs in Roman Polanski’s compelling thriller The Ghost Writer has good reason to be worried. His predecessor has died in a suspicious accident; his employer Lang (Pierce Brosnan) is facing charges that he sanctioned torture toward suspected terrorists;
Roger Greenberg, the titular character of Noah Baumbach’s new comedy Greenberg, is the type of person you would probably want to avoid if you had occasion to know him. As written by Baumbach and portrayed (in a sincerely insufferable way) by Ben Stiller, Greenberg is self-deluding, self-righteous, self-absorbed, and with no capacity for self-deprecation. At the beginning, Greenberg is recovering from a nervous breakdown while housesitting at his successful brother’s spacious Los Angeles home (complete with dog and visiting pool-users).
Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman also took its time getting to the theaters (2008, 2009?) but the results are fairly enjoyable. You know the story: Larry Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) goes back to England (in this case after his brother’s brutal death), gets bitten by a werewolf, turns into one himself (that darned full moon) and all hell breaks loose. He also falls in love with his brother’s fiancée (Emily Blunt) while trying to avoid the long arm of the law (Hugo Weaving) and the savage arms of the villagers—torches anyone?
Martin Scorsese’s new thriller Shutter Island seems to have been waiting for the same ferry that Leonardo De Caprio’s U.S. Marshal character hopes will take him off this forbidden, forgotten and foreboding island. Originally an October release, it has been pushed back to the wintry wastelands of February. Many speculated that it might have been because of a matter of quality, or lack thereof (well, maybe not many—perhaps just me). Others felt it was more economically viable to wait—and they may have been right, given the killer box office results. How you feel about the film may well be determined by how you feel about a certain revelation occurring two/thirds of the way through. (More about that—but not exactly that—later)
I enjoyed Michael Hoffman’s The Last Station when I was watching it, but as Lieutenant Columbo would say, I’ve got a problem. The basic plot concerns an aging Leo Tolstoy, his wife Countess Sofya, and the tense situation that arises when it becomes apparent that Tolstoy plans to leave his writings (and future royalties) to all of Russia–albeit in the care of Chertkov, an unctuous Tolstoy worshipper—rather than to his own privileged wife and family.
Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges is one of those late-December releases that you’ll hopefully catch up with, especially to see Bridges in an Oscar-worthy performance surrounded by a terrific supporting cast. Not that you haven’t seen variations on this plot before: the washed-up, broken-down (fill in the blank with either athlete or performer) meets a lovely young lady (as in young enough to be his daughter), while facing a potentially life-threatening condition (usually drugs or alcohol infused) on the road to possible redemption (Wait a minute–am I reviewing The Wrestler?). However, it’s rarely been done so well.