Belle – 6.5

It was a pleasure to luxuriate in a film where the dialogue consisted of complete sentences and the costumes, settings and actors were gorgeous. Granted, this was a pale imitation of Merchant-Ivory, and even Downton Abbey had more suspense, surprise and originality; but still it Trolloped along inoffensively and brought mist to the eye as good triumphed at the end. The Lord Chief Justice’s ruling in favor of the insurers was not exactly Amistad, but we weren’t really expecting anything important.

The Immigrant – 6

An unrelentingly dark picture of the Lower East Side in 1921 and the unrelentingly dark life facing penniless immigrants in New York. The story, which suffers from loose ends all over, depends on three skilled actors, all seemingly miscast. Jeremy Renner, so intense in The Hurt Locker, hardly seems the lightfooted magician. Joaquin Phoenix, a world-class brooder, is unconvincing as a nightclub impresario. And Marion Cotillard seemed about ten years too old. Nor did I see why both men were willing to throw away their lives for her, but that may be a matter of taste. In short, I was hoping for a European film but got a less subtle American. [smoking 1 – incidental]

Locke – 6.5

A one-person drama that is daring in conception and clever in execution; but in the end you feel it might work better as a play or a short story. We get a pretty good read on Tom Hardy’s character halfway through, and with no more surprises you wait for his car to arrive, which, metaphorically and physically, it doesn’t.

Lone Survivor – 5

It was interesting to compare this to Turn!, the AMC serial about the Revolutionary War, in which the occupying British forces are automatically the bad guys, to be slaughtered without compunction. Here, the occupiers were Americans – hence, the good guys – although it was not otherwise explained why they were in Afghanistan and we were to cheer for the local inhabitants who were killed by the dozens. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Stylistically, this was a total throwback to World War II or cowboy-Indian movies, where our heroes miraculously evade round after round while picking off the enemy with almost every shot of their own. Instead of a movie of some subtlety or plot leading up to a big shoot-out, this one jumped right to the shoot-out and achieved its length only by having each of Mark Wahlberg’s platoon mates gradually picked off, one by one, leaving alive, somewhat incredibly, only the title character. [No smoking!]