And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 7

This week’s picks won boatloads of Oscars and had nominations galore. They hail from France, and Italy, and Germany, and Spain, and one has no dialogue.

When I put together the list I was just choosing a favorite film a day with no overall agenda, but this week’s turn out to be heavy on male characters, from a movie star to a boxer, a mime to a brute, an angel to a hard boiled detective. And five of them are in black and white.

The films are:

The Artist; Raging Bull; Biutiful; Les Enfants Du Paradis; Chinatown; Wings of Desire; La Strada 

 

Review: The War with Grandpa

If you’re willing to risk your family’s health to see The War with Grandpa hoping for some side-splitting comic relief amidst the pandemic, then sadly, the joke would be on you. At best, The War with Grandpa might serve as a tolerable 90-minute diversion for parents and kids really desperate for a PG-friendly Family Movie Night at the Drive-In. But there’s no way anyone should venture into a theater for this one! The War with Grandpa is a multi-generational dud, a lame paint-by-numbers dysfunctional family comedy based on an award-winning book (by Robert Kimmel Smith) that I can only assume plays better on the written page.

Review: Joker

Disturbing. That’s really the only word that comes to mind when attempting to process my thoughts on Joker. Did I like it? I don’t know. Not really. Did I not like it? No. It’s okay. Am I glad I saw it? Yes, but only because I wanted to be able to respond with first-hand knowledge to the hoopla over whether it might somehow incite violence; and, I wanted to know if Joaquin Phoenix’s performance might be deserving of awards consideration, as many have already suggested. I’ll get to that. But first, a warning of sorts about the film for anyone who might be expecting a typical action-packed DC Comics ‘super-hero’ or ‘super-villain’ movie. It’s not that. In DC Comics fashion, it does skew dark. But there are no heroes. No superpowers. No joy.

The Intern

From the opening sequence, you know you’re watching a Nancy Meyers movie. The director of many chick flick gems including The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated, and Baby Boom has a definite formula, and it works again here– to some degree. The intern is a pleasant enough movie that manages to shine a humorous and poignant light on some interesting themes, from aging to work-life balance, to friendship and loyalty. But the movie is not without its flaws. There are a couple of scenes that don’t really go anywhere, and a few character traits that don’t particularly track. And, it’s really hard not to draw comparisons to that ‘other’ Anne Hathaway star vehicle, The Devil Wears Prada, where Hathaway plays the embattled assistant to the demanding editor-in-chief of a high fashion magazine (played by legendary actress Meryl Streep). In The Intern, Hathaway is the founder and chief executive of a start-up online fashion site that employs a “senior” intern named Ben Whittaker, played by legendary actor Robert De Niro. Why become an intern at 70? He’s a lonely and bored widower seeking new challenges in his retirement years. And he’s still got a lot to offer.

The Family

The Family is fine, but ultimately fuhgeddable. Robert De Niro plays Fred Manzoni, a mafia boss with a price on his head for ratting out his friends. Fred and his quirky family – including wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and teenage kids Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo) are placed in the Witness Protection Program – but keeping them out of trouble is no easy task. Old habits die hard and all.

The Big Wedding

Ouch. This movie is getting some harsh reviews. So maybe I missed something – or am simply more forgiving – ‘cause I didn’t hate it. I actually thought it was mildly amusing, especially if you’re in the mood for a quirky, formulaic, pseudo-romantic, somewhat raunchy comedy that’s strictly for grown-ups. Sure, it’s not as good as you might expect (or hope), considering the all-star cast. But it’s not as bad as it might have been, thanks to an all-star cast. If you have 90 minutes to kill and want to say “I Do”, here’s the scoop:

Silver Linings Playbook

Lots of hype surrounds Silver Linings Playbook and I’m not sure I buy into the Best Picture scenario, but as rom-dramedies go, there are not a lot of comparable films. At the center is bipolar Pat (Bradley Cooper), just released after 8 months from the loony bin, where he made a plea bargain to go instead of jail for assaulting the man he found bonking his wife Nikki in the shower. Pat comes to stay with his parents because his (ex)wife sold their house and has a restraining order out against him, that and he has no job and he’s crazy! And yet, in his delusional state, he is certain that he is going to get back together with his wife now. And to that end he agrees to have dinner at old friend Ronnie’s, whose wife Veronica (Julia Stiles) is BFFs with Nikki, expecting that she will tell her how much better he is, and he will welcomed back with open arms. At that dinner, he meets Veronica’s sister, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who has recently lost her husband and is clearly on an equal plane of crazy.

Killer Elite

We’re late to the party on Killer Elite. But it’s certainly not a chick flick and frankly, it will probably be out of theaters faster than Jason Statham could kick your a$$. From this chick’s perspective, Statham is one of the two things this movie has going for it. The other is Clive Owen. Beyond that, it’s pretty much a mess. Supposedly it’s based on a true story. Um, okay if they say so. What that story is, I’m not sure and I didn’t really care enough to Google it and find out.

Limitless

Limitless is okay, but The Adjustment Bureau is better. So if you’re wavering between the two, stick with TAB and Matt Damon. However, if you’ve already seen TAB and are looking for something in the same bailiwick and you like Bradley Cooper (and his sparkling blue eyes) then Limitless is a serviceable sci-fi drama.

Little Fockers

Little Fockers could very well ride the Focker franchise to a modicum of box office success – despite the fact that it pretty much sucks. I was embarrassed for the likes of Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman, though Streisand and Hoffman do appear only briefly in this sequel, as the hippie parents of Stiller’s character, Greg Focker.