It’s Complicated – 7

Perfectly charming divertissement set in Santa Barbara, with Meryl Streep acting up a storm opposite two cardboard comedians, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. Not that they aren’t funny, it’s just hard to take Jane’s dilemma or predicament or situation as seriously as Meryl does, with those two not-so-real gentlemen as her choices. The best comic role, in a recognizably human form, too, belonged to John Krasinski as son-in-law-to-be Harley. Streep’s home-in-the-Valley and Martha Stewart lifestyle provided plenty of eye candy, and most of the gags, while not deep, tickled the audience of seniors, including us.

Julie and Julia – 8

A totally charmant film. I had tears of pleasure streaming down my face from the first TV impersonation of Julia Child by Meryl Streep until the end (Dan Ackroyd?). Contrary to most reviewers, I thought Amy Adams held her own, too (although her chaste persona does get to me a bit). I think having seen No Impact Man first made her role more credible. Both husbands were admirable anchors for their flighty spouses. How often do you see a film in which everyone is nice, everyone achieves their goal, and the audience just has fun all along the way?

Up in the Air – 5.5

There’s a scene where the party boat runs out of gas, the lights go off, and the guests enter the hotel, having waded ashore. It’s sort of cute, but what’s it got to do with the movie? It advances neither the plot nor the characters. A good editor would have cut it out, except that without such scenes, little would be left. Cute bits here and there, separated by much longeur, was the essence of this magic-less movie. Pleasant enough to watch, thanks to its two female stars, the film ultimately left a sour aftertaste, with George Clooney’s trademark insouciance jarring horribly with the plights of the real-world workers he was assigned to fire. The concept of outsourcing layoffs fell just as flat as Ryan Bingham’s “backpack” speech. Even the opening credits were the clunkiest I’ve seen this year.

A Single Man – 7.5

Such a stylish film, shot in sepia, except for the scenes in color and the ones in black-and-white; told exclusively through the eyes of George Falconer (Colin Firth), except for the scene of Charly (Julianne Moore) applying her makeup; with so many lingering shots of beautiful young men you felt this was a gay director’s equivalent of a Penelope Cruz vehicle, except that her favorite director is gay, too. Even without Julianne Moore, you would have known the period was 1962, so perfect were the details, all stylish, too. I’m not sure we were ever shown why George had decided this was the day to take his life, but, as in Mrs. Dalloway, that wasn’t the point, really. Tom Ford, Christopher Isherwood and Colin Firth painted an interesting portrait, on celluloid this time instead of paper or canvas, and there was so much in each of our own lives we could bring to the act of watching.

Invictus – 5.5

As a lover of movies on sports and racial equality, I expected this to be an easy winner. Instead, I found the sports incomprehensible and the race relations so clichéd that I left wondering how a movie about Nelson Mandela could be so uninspiring. Morgan Freeman was impeccable, if boring, but Matt Damon was a white hole that sucked all the energy out of his scenes. The scriptwriters felt it necessary to have government advisers explain the World Cup draw to Mandela, but no one bothered to explain any rugby rules to us, leaving us to wonder when a team gets to kick a field goal, which was the only way, and a boring way at that, that any points got scored in the “climactic” match. Clint Eastwood has made good films and bad films, as the Iwo Jima duo showed; unfortunately, this one was on a par with Gran Torino.