Movie Reviews postsMonday May 16, 2011
Movie Review of the Day: Anthony Lane on Thor
“Some Gods have all the luck. When the hero of 'Thor' plummets to Earth, from a far corner of the cosmos, in a storming thunderbolt, the first thing he sees upon waking is the face of Natalie Portman. Not a sheep, or a branch of Subway, or a rainy day in Pittsburgh but, I repeat, Natalie Portman. He must think he has died and gone straight back to Heaven ...
”Once Thor stirs, the film itself comes belatedly to life.The first twenty minutes or so have been spent in otherworlds, reachable only by intergalatic wormholes. One is Asgard, a haven of golden towers ruled by Thor's father, the one-eyed Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and closely modelled on the cover of every mid-seventies concept album you wished you'd never bought ...
“'Thor,' in fact, is the year’s most divided movie to date; everything that happens in the higher realms, vaguely derived from Nordic legend, is posturing nonsense, whereas the scenes down here are managed, for the most part, with dexterity and wit.“
Welcome to Earth.
Movie Review of the Day: Macdonald on Bridesmaids
“Watch any of the scenes between Wiig and Rudolph and you'll see something rarely shown in the movies: that giggly, affectionate way that longtime female friends talk to each other; the way they completely relax in the other's presence, over the kind of breakfast-at-a-coffee-shop or wine-at-Lillian's-apartment date they've had a hundred times before. You completely believe the friendship between these two (the way we didn't believe Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin in ”Something Borrowed“) and it lights up the movie.”
—Moira Macdonald, in her Seattle Times review, “Bridesmaids: Comedy Says 'I Do' to Female Friendship,” describing exactly how I felt about these scenes in “Bridesmaids,” the best comedy of the year.
Reader Rebuttal: Hanna (2011)
Forgive me if this email is self-indulgent, but I liked the movie Hanna more than I thought I would, and, although your review would probably be understood as positive, I wanted to defend the movie as having more to it than you seem to suggest.
First, let me agree that I think a stronger movie would have come up with an ending other than a face-off to the death between hero and villian. That said, I think Hanna is a movie that Joseph Campbell would have loved because of its mythology and its symbolism. Hanna is never simply innocent, never simply someone who doesn't know who she is. I think she is meant to represent childhood and the experience of growing up. At a certain level, at the deepest level, none of us know who we are at that age, and at that age that lack of knowledge is often felt more urgently than at any other time because the insight is new rather than familiar.
Moreover, all of us with any integrity have to confront the startling and ambiguous realization that we are abnormal because, after all, “normal” is not meaningful at the individual level. In other words, Hanna, the movie and the character, is appealing to the same experiences that makes the mutants of the X-men so identifiable. Those lost, abnormal people are us - maybe not quite all of us, but many of us. Hanna is more particularly a symbol for those from broken homes. It is almost too obvious to say that Marissa represents the wicked stepmother, but I tend to think that that representation is iconic rather than cliched, universal enough to be readily understandable rather than merely common. More particularly still, Hanna represents those from broken homes who have experienced tragedy in the shattering of that home. She is curious about, and even mesmerized by, a “normal” family in a way that is, again, readily identifiable because it is similar to the way that those from tragically broken homes simply are mesmerized by “happy” families.
Maybe all of this is too apparent to be worth mentioning or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe I'm reading too much into the movie, but all of this representation seems to work on several levels throughout the film, and, if that is right, then the screenwriters and director deserve credit for it.
For what little it may be worth, you are my favorite non-Ebert movie reviewer, and I enjoyed your review of Hanna even if it did inspire this apologetic. Good luck to you.
Movie Review of the Day: Ebert on “Atlas”
“I was primed to review 'Atlas Shrugged.' I figured it might provide a parable of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that I could discuss. For me, that philosophy reduces itself to: 'I’m on board; pull up the lifeline.' There are however people who take Ayn Rand even more seriously than comic-book fans take 'Watchmen.' I expect to receive learned and sarcastic lectures on the pathetic failings of my review.
”And now I am faced with this movie, the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it. For the rest of us, it involves a series of business meetings in luxurious retro leather-and-brass board rooms and offices, and restaurants and bedrooms that look borrowed from a hotel no doubt known as the Robber Baron Arms.
“During these meetings, everybody drinks. More wine is poured and sipped in this film than at a convention of oenophiliacs. There are conversations in English after which I sometimes found myself asking, ”What did they just say?“ The dialogue seems to have been ripped throbbing with passion from the pages of Investors’ Business Daily. Much of the excitement centers on the tensile strength of steel.”
-- Roger Ebert on “Atlas Shrugged”
Anticipating Guilty Pleasures
But it's not summer yet, you say.
But summer movies haven't been released yet, you say.
How can they know what's guilty, or a pleasure, if they haven't seen anything yet?
For the record, I thought Matt Singer's response was charming, Glenn Kenney's was funny, and Devin Faraci's incomprehensible. Who doesn't feel guilty over pleasure?
My favorite response, though, came from Jeff Wells. No, not “Super 8”—a movie that doesn't appear too guilt-inducing to me. Wells responded first on his own site, Hollywood Elsewhere, which is how I came upon the MSN piece in the first place. I love his impatience with the folks at MSN who waited 48 hours to post the piece. “I'm sorry,” he writes, “but in this era of instant worldwide expression the idea of writing something and having it gestate and cool its heels off-screen for 48 or more hours seems ridiculous to me.”
He has no idea. In the summer of 2008, I wrote a piece for MSN about a film opening that Friday. Submitted it on, I believe, a Wednesday. Was told it would be posted the following Monday. “But shouldn't we post it on Friday?” I asked. “Since fans of the movie will want to read about the movie over the weekend? Won't Monday be too late?” I was assured otherwise. I was told nothing could be done. Besides, how big could the opening weekend be?
That movie was, of course, “The Dark Knight.”
But it's not Wells' impatience with MSN that I loved. It's the summer 2011 guilty pleasure he writes about that MSN didn't post:
“My other biggie is Bad Teacher (6.24) because I've been nursing fantasies about secretly slutty, ill-mannered teachers (not to mention secretly slutty nurses and pre-vow nuns) since I was ten years old, and this looks somewhat fulfilling in that regard. Why oh why didn't a teacher try to take advantage of me when I was 14 or 15? Why do today's teenagers have all the fun?”
The response is itself a guilty pleasure.
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