Monthly Archives: December 2008


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 5

2008-12-26T09:11:17+00:00December 26th, 2008|Reviews|

This movie was supposedly about how we learn and aging. I learned nothing, but was 140 minutes older when it ended. Or maybe it was about love – but I found Cate Blanchett cold, Brad Pitt bloodless, chemistry lacking and their relationship an unconvincing Hollywood cliché. So what I was left with was a Forrest [...]

A Christmas Tale 8

2008-12-24T11:57:15+00:00December 24th, 2008|Reviews|

Quel plaisir to spend 152 minutes with a French family, even one as dysfunctional as this. It took a while to figure out who was who, let alone why, and then part of the fun was deciding whom you liked the most and why. The men were either reprobates or ciphers, except for the short [...]

Frost/Nixon 7

2008-12-20T11:34:14+00:00December 20th, 2008|Reviews|

A nicely done theatrical piece, more than a movie – and I’m not sure how well it relates to actual history. Frank Langella’s portrayal of Tricky Dick was superb, but even with all the layers he conveyed, one felt it didn’t come close to plumbing the actual depths of Nixon’s character. What really drove the [...]

The Changeling 5

2008-12-19T11:17:33+00:00December 19th, 2008|Reviews|

I can’t think of a single scene that failed to tax my credulity, either due to the extremity of the characterization, the absurdity of the plot, or the inconsistency of the direction. So often did I hear myself thinking, this would never happen like this, that I could only conclude that this was another of [...]

Slumdog Millionaire 7.5

2008-12-19T11:16:57+00:00December 19th, 2008|Reviews|

I admit to a personal aversion to Indian poverty and I favor realism to highly improbable stories, but this movie plugged into the energy of Mumbai and swept me along until, best of all, a curtain call in which the cast sang and danced and all the sordidness, violence, corruption and depressing poverty was temporarily [...]

Synecdoche, NY 3

2008-12-19T11:14:58+00:00December 19th, 2008|Reviews|

The longest two hours I’ve had in a movie this year. For 15 minutes the film showed promise, with Charlie Kaufman-trademark quirkiness leavening Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener’s dysfunctional marriage. Then the MacArthur grant arrives and the few remaining tethers to reality are cut loose, leaving us nothing to care about. People are not [...]

Rachel Getting Married 8

2008-12-19T11:14:12+00:00December 19th, 2008|Reviews|

Anne Hathaway gives a riveting performance (Best of the Year) as the psychotic woman released from rehab to attend, but in the event almost wreck, her sister’s wedding. The other characters barely register (I kept waiting in vain for Sidney to display some evidence of a personality), and none can draw our eyes away from [...]

In the Valley of Elah 8

2008-12-19T11:13:34+00:00December 19th, 2008|Reviews|

We saw this a year later, and on TV, but my firm belief is that this is the one movie about the Iraq war, so far at least, that will stand the test of time. (We tried to watch The Deer Hunter the other night, to see if that plays a similar role for Vietnam, [...]

Anvil 4.5

2008-12-19T11:12:43+00:00December 19th, 2008|Reviews|

Unfortunately, a loser of a film about unfortunate losers in the rock’n’roll sweepstakes, the Canadian heavy-metallists, Anvil. The two leads, Lips and Robb, look so much like the stars of Spinal Tap, the film often resembles a parody of a parody, which is not a good thing. The songs, of which we get to hear [...]

Body of Lies 7.5

2008-12-19T11:11:59+00:00December 19th, 2008|Reviews|

The Mideast terrorist world seems to be the new Cold-War-spy paradigm for thrillers, and if this scenario hadn’t felt so familiar it would have rated even higher. Mark Strong was sharp as the Jordanian security chief, and all the Arabs were convincing Arabs. Brad Pitt’s Arabic accent was standard American, but otherwise he was a [...]