Monday, October 6, 2014

Wknd Box Office: Gone Girl, Equalizer, Annabelle, Boxtrolls, Hector & the Search for Happiness, Skeleton Twins, Kelly & Cal

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 choosing good movies to watch yourself!

Wknd Box Office: Gone Girl, Equalizer, Annabelle, Boxtrolls, Hector & the Search for Happiness, Skeleton Twins, Kelly & Cal

By Debbie Schlussel
Because of the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShanah, I didn’t get to my movie reviews last week–my apologies–so some of the movies I’m reviewing today are from last week, including “The Equalizer” (which I wasn’t able to see until after the holiday).




* “Gone Girl“: This is based on the very popular, New York Times best-selling novel of the same name. And even though the book is primarily popular among women, don’t fool yourself into thinking this is a chick flick. It’s anything but. It’s a thriller full of twists and turns even a jaded veteran might not predict. And I credit author Gillian Flynn–who wrote both this script and the original novel–for showing that women can be just as evil and cretinous as the men that anti-male Hollywood and the chick lit cabal portray. I’m not a fan of far-left, elitist Ben Affleck, who stars as Nick, the husband accused of murdering his wife. But he is probably perfect for this role as your run-of-the-mill jerk now fighting criminal accusations.
This thriller is quite faithful to the book, but per usual, the book is far better than what nearly 2.5 hours can show on film. Also, don’t believe the hype that the ending of the movie is different from that of the book. It isn’t. If you read the book, the movie won’t be much of a surprise for you. But if you didn’t, it’s very entertaining, if a little more graphic sexually and bloodwise than I recall from the book (which I read a long while ago). There is a lot of press about Ben Affleck in brief full-frontal nudity, but thankfully I don’t recall that unwelcome image–probably another “pearl” of BS to feed the hype over this.

My biggest beef with this movie is that it’s toooooo loooooong. They could have cut a half hour out of it, as there are lulls and slow parts. The script cut several characters and scenes from the book, and it could have cut those lulls, too, and tightened it up.
The story is that of a married couple, Nick and Amy, who were once totally in love and now basically hate each other. Amy, whose parents based a whole series of kids’ books on her, goes missing on their fifth anniversary and Nick is accused of her murder. He insists he didn’t do it and is being framed. We see the story from both their points of view, and things are not what they seem . . . as with any good thriller.
The thing I most liked about the book and the movie is the way it captures our sensationalistic pop culture and news media, including a Nancy Grace-esque cable TV hostess and a showboating, media-whore defense lawyer, well played by Tyler Perry. Amy’s effeminate former boyfriend, who is still obsessed with her, is also as I pictured him in the form of Neil Patrick Harris. Amy, herself, could have been played by any attractive blonde actress (the movie’s producer Reese Witherspoon wanted the role but was turned down by her director), but here she is played in a workmanlike manner by British actress Rosamund Pike.
A wild ride worth seeing because it’s a thrilling, suspense-filled antidote to the parade of whining, feminist “women done wrong” who constantly blame men. But it’s definitely NOT for kids or for anyone who doesn’t want the explicit sexual acts, language, and a lot of blood (the blood is primarily in only one scene).

* “The Equalizer“: More like “Not the Equalizer.” Although this is supposed to be based on the original 1980s TV series starring Edward Woodward, this is nothing like that show. Not even close. There’s barely a relationship between the two. This is very violent and bloody and looks like Denzel Washington’s audition for the role of James Bond. Yes, recently Washington mentioned he wants to be considered for the role of the MI5 agent (who is really an MI6 agent). Washington acted like he was kidding, but if you see this movie, you know he wasn’t.
Instead of the TV version of the mysterious “fixer” driving around New York in his Jaguar to help people in trouble, Washington’s version is set in Boston, and he is a former CIA operative who works at a “Home Depot”-style store that ironically has almost no White employees. Washington, in this version, is an action hero who single-handedly (and impossibly) takes on and kills large gangs of armed Russian mobsters and their fellow American evil White guys. Yes, every villain in this movie is a White guy–none of ‘em Muslims, though, as the movie relies on the tired stand-in of the Russian mob. Yaaawn. And, with the exception of a White, under-aged prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz), all of the people he helps and saves are also minorities, most of ‘em Hispanic.
Other than those drawbacks, I did enjoy the movie because it is a fast-paced, action-filled tight movie, and because, as always, Washington is a great actor and likeable guy (including off-screen, where he largely stays away from politics, but is very generous and supportive of American troops). He makes it look easy and convincing. And I like his intellectual emphasis in this movie. He is reading 100 great novels, including “The Old Man and the Sea” and is a quiet guy who tries to stay away from the violence that always manages to find him. I also liked that there was stark good and evil in this film (but did all the evil guys, including corrupt cops, have to be White?). And I liked that the bad guys got theirs in the end, even if it wasn’t believable.
A good escapist, cotton-candy-calories kind of film. But “The Equalizer” it’s not.

* “Annabelle“: As horror movies go, this was one of the scarier ones I’ve seen recently . . . at least for the first half or so. Then, it got a little ridiculous. I liked the ’60s period costumes, hairstyles, cars, sets, and so on. And I liked the tie-in of a Manson-Family-style cult, though I didn’t like that this movie blames their bloody, murderous behavior on a cursed doll and the devil. This is, by the way, supposed to be based on a “true story” (as told by the real-life couple from “The Conjuring”–read my review). And it comes complete with a “magical Black friend” (a/k/a “Magical Negro,” as written about by Black writer David Ehrenstein), who helps save them from the devil, along with a Catholic priest.
The story: it’s the 1960s, and a young couple is haunted by an old doll possessed by the devil. First, a number of scary things start happening in their house. Then, their neighbors are murdered, and they are attacked by a Manson Family type of cult. Next, they move, and the doll, which they thought was in the trash is suddenly with them in their new Pasadena apartment. Evil spirits, which they don’t realize are possessing the doll, begin to haunt the wife and the new young baby. The wife is befriended by a used book store owner (Alfre Woodard), who helps her fight the evil spirits. So does a local Catholic priest.
As I noted, the movie is very scary at points, but then just gets silly. Still, overall not bad for the horror movie genre, and I liked the pro-religious aspect of it.

* “The Boxtrolls“: This is great for kids, especially boys (a number of the characters eat bugs and worms). I saw it in 3D, but I’m sure it’s fine in 2D, as it’s already quite a colorful movie. The story: a young, abandoned boy is raised by a bunch of trolls who live in the trash and wear empty boxes. But the boxtrolls are in the fight of their lives as an evil exterminator is out to murder them on behalf of the town’s rich guy, who loves and wants cheese. I didn’t like the mild, barely noticeable anti-rich guy part of the story. But otherwise, it’s very cute for kids and the adults who accompany them.

* “Hector and the Search for Happiness“: While this quirky movie starts out well–fun and entertaining–it ends up being a messy, annoying chick flick that tries too hard to be too cute and quirky by half. I enjoyed the first two-thirds of the movie, but it quickly deflates with the protagonist male crying and declaring his love for his chick. Please, make it stop.
The story: Hector (Simon Pegg), a quirky English psychiatrist, gets tired of hearing how unhappy his patients are. And he’s kind of bored with his regimented life that is the same day after day. Plus, he’s not sure he’s really in love with his beautiful girlfriend who takes care of his every need. So, he goes on a trip to search the world for the meaning of happiness. He goes to China, Africa, and Los Angeles and encounters a number of adventures and characters, including a Chinese prostitute (that he doesn’t know is one), Tibetan monks, a Spanish mobster in Africa, and Hector’s ex-girlfriend, who is now married with kids.
The movie is good until he ends up in Los Angeles. But, again, it tries too hard to be quirky and cutesy. And I generally loathe movies in which men bawl and declare their love in the process.

* “Skeleton Twins“: The feel-good gay suicide, teacher child-molestation, wife-cheating, twin movie of the year! Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig play an estranged twin adult brother and sister. Hader, a failed actor, tries to commit suicide, and Wiig comes to California to bring him home to suburban upstate New York where she lives with her husband. Wiig is a serial cheater who secretly takes birth control pills while agreeing with the hubby to try to have kids, and while cheating on him with various instructors in classes she takes. Hader, meanwhile, tries to rekindle a gay relationship he had with a teacher as a kid. It turns out Wiig reported the teacher for molesting her brother. Their mother is a neglectful New Age guru hypocrite (that was the only spot-on part of the movie). Oh, and did I mention that both the twins–brother and sister–dressed up as princesses as kids? The end.
Yup, no wonder this is getting rave reviews from mainstream movie critics. It’s utter crap. It stank, was pointless, and stole 1.5 hours of my life I’ll never get back. Um, no thank you.
Prime Gitmo cinema material. Avoid like Ebola.

* “Kelly & Cal“: Juliette Lewis, who is now 41 (I thought she was like 50 or something), plays a “young” new mother, so she is entirely unsuited and too old for the role. She is upset that her husband hasn’t had sex with her in six months since the birth of their baby, and she doesn’t feel good about herself. So, she befriends the teenaged, wheelchair-bound, high-school student boy neighbor. And she sort of falls in love with him, while he definitely falls in love with her. Her husband and his mother find out. But, even though, he’s underaged and the relationship is totally inappropriate, it all works out in the end, and the husband forgives her. The end.
Another pointless waste of my time. Thank you, Hollywood, for time-banditing my life with utterly awful crap like this.
More prime Gitmo entertainment for terrorists. Skip at all cost.

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