Currently browsing the "Alan Arkin" tag.

Review: Spenser Confidential (Netflix)

This Netflix title caught my eye because I was a fan of the TV series “Spenser for Hire” (starring the late Robert Urich) in the mid-1980s and was curious how a new movie version of the crime drama might play out with Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. The film is directed by Peter Berg who’s worked with Wahlberg several times in the past decade, in big-screen features like Patriots Day, Deepwater Horizon, Mile 22 and Lone Survivor. Spenser Confidential would be weak for a theatrical release, but it’s entertaining enough for Netflix streaming – for nostalgia’s sake and/or if you just like watching Wahlberg do his thing. Check, check.

Quickie Review: Dumbo

There’s a reason we don’t review too many kids’ movies, even if we happen to see them: they aren’t really for us. A few weeks ago, I saw the animated adventure film Wonder Park but didn’t get around to a formal review (other than on the Cinema Clash podcast) because it was just okay. Fine for kids, tolerable for the adults who accompany them. Dumbo has the potential to appeal to a much larger audience of family filmgoers because it’s a live-action remake of a 1941 Disney animated classic, it’s directed by twisted fairy tale auteur Tim Burton, and it’s got some high-profile cast members including Danny DeVito, Colin Ferrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green and Alan Arkin. But ultimately, much like Wonder Park, this new Dumbo is just okay and has some dark elements that could be scary for the wee ones.

Million Dollar Arm

Slumdog Millionaire meets Jerry Maguire? That’s a major-league oversimplification, but Million Dollar Arm works for a lot of the same reasons that those flicks did: good writing, good story, great casting, a lot of humor, and even more heart. Plus, it’s based on real events, which makes it even more endearing. This flick goes in the ‘win’ column for chicks and dudes alike.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone won’t blow you away any more than (or even as much as) Oz the Great and Powerful. But if you’re looking for a generally innocuous, sometimes funny, and occasionally gross cinematic outing, Wonderstone does the trick. Even more so if you grew up with one of those magic kits that came with a long multi-colored handkerchief, fake quarter, top hat, and a loaded deck of cards. That will kick the nostalgia factor – and enjoyment factor – up a notch.

Stand Up Guys

Great actors does not a great movie make. Pardon my grammar, but that’s my final answer on Stand Up Guys, a dark comedy starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and, to a (much) lesser extent, Alan Arkin. Needs more Arkin! Take these fine actors out of the mix, and you’ve got a pretty boring movie with way too many boner jokes. Maybe that’s why it’s called Stand Up Guys?! I’d rather not know. Anyway, the film looks and feels like a throwback to the gangster movies of the 1970s, only now our wiseguys are firmly in the twilight of their lives and careers. The film is part homage, part satire, and part melancholy. It opens with Walken’s character, Doc, picking up his best friend Val (Pacino) from prison, where’s he’s served 28 years. The reunion is bittersweet, however, because Doc has orders from the mob boss to kill Val – and both men know it. They decide to make those final hours count, and that means plenty of drinking, eating, pill-popping (mostly Viagra and blood pressure meds), brothel visits, and even a bit of gangstering with their old pal and wheelman Hirsch (Arkin).

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is one of those small arty films starring an impressive roster of accomplished actors who probably took the gig for the love of the material rather than box-office glory. It’s a psychological drama tinged with wry humor and melancholy. So if you like that sort of stuff, you’ll probably like this film.