Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Box Office: Red Dawn, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, The Flat, Rise of the Guardians

Here is an interesting article from reviewing some of the movies that came out over the past weekend. This follows this post about some of the movies from last week and THIS POST about some movies that have been released over the past few years that you might have missed! This all follows this post about guidelines to chosing good movies to watch yourself!

Thanksgiving Box Office: Red Dawn, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, The Flat, Rise of the Guardians

By Debbie Schlussel

No MARXES for any of the new movies at theaters today for Thanksgiving. All of them were decent, some of them good.


* “Red Dawn“: While this was better than I expected, it’s still somewhat schlocky and isn’t nearly as good as the original 1984 “Red Dawn”, which was much panned by liberal mainstream media movie critics but was actually a very good movie that stands the test of time. As you may know, this was filmed in Michigan and heavily subsidized by the Michigan Film Tax Credit. (A former trainer from my gym, Michael Knight, plays a Russian military figure.) It also sat on the shelves for about two years and wasn’t even going to be released except on video. But that changed, when its stars, particularly Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, became big stars. So, now, it’s a Thanksgiving movie, even though it doesn’t deserve that slot. And, as you’ve probably heard, this originally featured the Chinese invading America, but for international ticket sales reasons was changed to North Koreans (the movie used Detroit-based Asians of all varieties, many of whom look Chinese to me, not Korean).

The story: North Koreans invade America, particularly Spokane, Washington, the setting of this movie. Several teens (Hemsworth, Hutcherson, and several lesser knowns) form “The Wolverines,” a group of rebels who fight the North Koreans.

My reservations with this movie, as I’ve noted before on this site: our major enemies are Muslims and Chi-Coms, NOT the North Koreans, although they are bad. So the plot is absurd. It’s not even plausible that the North Koreans could afford to carry out such a major scale invasion of America. And all of the Wolverines in this movie wear keffiyehs, the Islamic scarf of death. Um, since when did the keffiyeh become the symbol of American freedom? The movie would have been far more credible had the movie been about an invasion of Muslims. But Hollywood would NEVER have the cojones to present Muslims as the invaders. Not politically correct. Plus, they have tickets to sell to Arab and Muslim moviegoers around the wrold. Back in 1984, Soviet Communism was the major threat we faced. Now, it is Islam and the Chinese. And the Chinese are doing it financially, not through a military invasion. So, this movie seems kind of comical.

It’s an entertaining movie with giant holes in it, and silliness, such as plenty of North Korean planes suddenly invading our airspace with zero response from the U.S. military. Then, there are thousands of HumVees, suddenly on the streets of America with North Korean military emblems on them. How did that suddenly happen without anyone knowing.

I liked that it shows a Marine who served in Afghanistan (Hemsworth) in a positive, patriotic light. But this movie is a cubic zirconium imitation of the original “Red Dawn.” Nothing too objectionable about it. But you should see the original, instead. There was absolutely no reason to remake it, other than that Tom Cruise’s son needed a gig, and Hollywood can’t come up with anything new.


* “Silver Linings Playbook“: This movie is strictly for adults because of language and themes. It’s rated “R” for a reason. But it’s absolutely hilarious. I laughed and laughed. And, while I found it depressing at the beginning, it turned into a very happy, entertaining–if weird–movie.

Bradley Cooper plays a crazy guy who is released from a mental hospital to freedom, after severely beating his then-wife’s lover, after he walks in on the two of them taking a shower together. Cooper is delusional and still thinks his now-ex-wife still loves him and he wants to go see her. But there’s a restraining order out on him. Cooper’s parents are Robert De Niro (who, in a novel role for him, plays an Italian bookie) and Jacki Weaver (who looks and sounds like a dead ringer for Sally Struthers in this movie). Cooper drives his parents crazy, and soon his friends try to set him up with a mysterious woman (Jennifer Lawrence) whose husband cheated on her. She wants Cooper to dance with her in a dancing competition, and she and the dance practice are getting in the way of his obsession with finding his ex-wife.

Like I said, this is very funny, after being extremely depressing at first. But there is a lot of yelling and melodrama, which I could have done without. If you want a movie that is completely relaxing, this isn’t it. But it ends with a relaxing, happy conclusion.


* “Life of Pi“: After a storm kills most of his family and other passengers on an ocean liner, an Indian teenaged boy gets marooned on a boat in the middle of the ocean. He must endure and survive nearly a year of little food, plus he must find a way to live with a hungry tiger who is also on the tiny boat.

This is a lot like “Castaway,” but set on a boat and with a tiger instead of a volleyball. It was a good adventure and definitely thrilling, but most of it takes place on the boat in the ocean. And the ending is very annoying and a silly attempt to philosophize and play with your mind (which doesn’t work too well). The movie was a little slow and long, but it was entertaining. While it’s aimed at families and also kids, I wondered if kids might be scared by some of the violent animal attacks in a few scenes. It’s not a spectacular movie, but it’s okay.


* “The Flat“: It’s difficult to review this documentary without giving away the whole thing and engaging in spoilers. So, I’m limited in what I can say about it. I thought it was a fascinating, interesting movie, which made me think. At first, it blew my mind. But after I saw it and did some research into the object of criticism in the movie, I found that things were a little different than portrayed.

An Israeli Jewish director, Arnon Goldfinger, goes with his mother and other relatives to clean out the apartment of his maternal grandmother’s apartment after she passes away. His grandparents were proud German citizens who left Germany as the Nazis came to power, but despite living in Palestine and then Israel, they still thought of themselves as Germans. But, while going through his grandmother’s things, he notices something odd and disturbing, which he looks into further. And the more he looks, the more disturbing it gets. Goldfinger finds out some disturbing things about his grandparents and their friends, having to do with the Holocaust and the Nazis. With this movie, he’s opened a hornets’ nest. And after the research I did after the movie, I’m not entirely sure that Goldfinger is entirely fair to his grandparents. Plus, they aren’t around to answer.

I believe that part of this documentary was staged because, I wondered, did Goldfinger really have the cameras rolling, just in case they found something interesting in his grandmother’s apartment . . . or did they re-enact that part, once they did find that “something interesting?” It’s something I always wonder with these documentaries in which the cameras are already rolling when something “just comes up” that becomes the basis of the documentary.

Go see this movie and let me know what you think.


* “Rise of the Guardians“: This animated movie is aimed at kids and families with kids. The animation and 3D are fabulous and amazing. Can’t say as much for the story, which was fine and not objectionable in any way. It’s just that it was dull, and I felt like I’d seen it a million times before. Also, beware that uber-liberal maniac Alec Baldwin voices the Santa character (called “North” in this movie).

The story: when the bogeyman (called “Pitch”) turns kids’ dreams into nightmares and makes them stop believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and other imaginary characters. Those characters, including Jack Frost, are the “Immortial Guardians” of children, and Jack Frost leads them to stop this and fight off Pitch.

Fine for kids and families.


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