Monday, January 11, 2010

Brief Reviews of mediocre movies

Brief movie reviews:

From Wikipedia: August is a 2008 drama film directed by Austin Chick. The screenplay by Howard A. Rodman focuses on two brothers, ambitious dot-com entrepreneurs attempting to keep their company afloat as the stock market begins to collapse in August 2001, one month prior to the 9/11 attacks.

Josh Hartnett has to carry most of this movie. It is about the rise and fall of one entrepreneurial young man and his more conservative brother, in the heady days of the bubble. The dialogue has a lot of insider business mumbo-jumbo that is supposed to explain what was going on. It didn’t, at least for this outsider. Harnett does his best acting when he is called upon to interpret the depression, loneliness, and lack of direction that happens when one involuntarily looses a job. This saves the movie from being a total disaster.

From Wikipedia: The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is a film adaptation of Michael Chabon's best-selling novel of the same name, which was published in 1988. The screenplay was written by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who also directed. It made its world premiere in January 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival.

The cast includes:

• Jon Foster as Art Bechstein: The well-manner, intelligent son of a Jewish gangster who gets caught up in a tangled love triangle with Jane and Cleveland, as well as an affair with Phlox.

• Sienna Miller as Jane Bellwether: Cleveland's girlfriend. In the novel, Jane is a minor character but has been elevated to leading lady in Thurber's adaptation.

• Peter Sarsgaard as Cleveland Arning: Jane's rebellious bisexual boyfriend, with whom Art becomes involved. In the novel, Cleveland is an entirely heterosexual character, but in adapting the film, he became merged with the homosexual character Arthur Lecomte, one of the novel's key love interests.

• Mena Suvari as Phlox Lombardi: A strange girl who works at the book shop who becomes romantically involved with Art. In the novel, she is one of the main romantic interests along with Arthur, but her role is greatly reduced in the adaptation.

• Nick Nolte as Joe Bechstein: Art's father is a Jewish gangster who is disappointed with his son's choices, and would like him to become a stockbroker.

Plot summary

In Pittsburgh, affairs with Jane (Sienna Miller) drive both of her lovers, Cleveland and Art, into bisexuality.

This is a really bad movie, in spite of me being a fan of all things Pittsburgh. Jon Foster seems to be doing an impression of Keanu Reeves on a sedative. Sienna Miller, while attractive, generates little excitement. Sarsgaard is the best of the bunch. Read the plot summary- it describes how silly the plot really is. Foster and Sarsgaard play a gay love scene. They both appear to be laughing while doing “it.” It was totally unconvincing. No wonder the film was a box office bomb.


From Wikipedia:  De-Lovely is a 2004 American/British musical biographical film directed by Irwin Winkler. The screenplay by Jay Cocks is based on the life and career of Cole Porter, from his first meeting with Linda Lee Thomas in 1918 until moments before his death in 1964. In the final moments of Porter's life, it flashes before him in the form of a musical production staged by the archangel Gabriel in the Indiana theater where the composer first performed on stage. From the start, Linda is aware of Cole's gay feelings, but her love for and devotion to him are strong enough for her to overlook his romantic flings outside their marriage. But when he fails to show up at one of his own opening night parties and doesn't come home until the following morning, she finds it impossible to ignore his indiscretion and the continuous innuendos in his songs and goes to Paris, leaving him bereft. Not until he is injured in a horseback riding accident that seriously cripples him does she return to his side, willing to forgive but still finding it difficult to cope with his extramarital affairs. Cole is photographed in an amorous embrace with another man in the rest room of a gay nightclub, and both he and Linda are blackmailed into paying a heavy settlement to suppress publication of the pictures. Eventually she is diagnosed with lung cancer, and as she prepares herself and her husband for her impending death, she attempts to forge a relationship between him and her interior decorator so he'll have a companion following her death, which deeply affects him. The eventual amputation of his right leg adds to his deep depression, affecting his creative output. Porter becomes increasingly seclusive, as well as becoming more dependent on alcohol.

This is an ok movie. Its amazing to be reminded of how many songs Cole Porter wrote that are in the popular cultural memory. Kevin Kline, as Porter, and the beautiful Ashley Judd, as Ms. Thomas are good in their respective roles. The appliances used to age them are very believable. The period costuming is well done. There is something about the photography that just doesn’t seem to fit the movie. The colors, especially at the film’s end, are sharp and vibrant in contrast to the somber themes. Porter’s relationship with his wife was interesting. He had repeated gay encounters, but, at least as portrayed in the move, they loved each other with every fiber of their beings. They were true soul mates. The relationship harkens to that portrayed in the movie “Carrington” about the relationship between the title character and Lytton Strachey.

Many contemporary singers are used on the sound track of De-Lovely. They include:

1. "It's De-Lovely" performed by Robbie Williams

2. "Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)" performed by Alanis Morissette

3. "Begin The Beguine" performed by Sheryl Crow

4. "Let's Misbehave" performed by Elvis Costello

5. "Be a Clown" performed by Kevin Kline, Peter Polycarpou, and Chorus

6. "Night and Day" performed by John Barrowman

7. "Easy to Love" performed by Kevin Kline

8. "True Love" by Ashley Judd and Tayler Hamilton

9. "What Is This Thing Called Love?" performed by Lemar

10. "I Love You" performed by Mick Hucknall

11. "Just One of Those Things" performed by Diana Krall

12. "Anything Goes" performed by Caroline O'Connor

13. "Experiment" performed by Kevin Kline

14. "Love for Sale" performed by Vivian Green

15. "So In Love" performed by Lara Fabian and Mario Frangoulis

16. "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" performed by Natalie Cole

17. "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" performed by Jonathan Pryce, Kevin Kline, Cast, and Chorus

18. "In the Still of the Night" performed by Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd

19. "You're The Top" performed by Cole Porter

Some were terribly mismatched to the material. Listening to Sheryl Crow crow “Begin the Beguine” was a horrible experience. She has limited skills as a singer, and each limitation was highlighted by the music. Morrisette, on the other hand, was credible in “Let’s Do It.” Robbie Williams did a credible job also. By far, Natalie Cole is the best- she understands the music and has a voice that compliments it.

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