The Iron Lady: A Review Friday, Feb 3 2012 

Last night, PJ and I saw The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. We both love Streep, so we’ve been waiting for this movie to come to Athens and eagerly anticipating seeing it. Here’s the trailer:

The Iron Lady has gotten mixed reviews. The main problem, it seems to me, is the trailer, which gives the impression that the movie is about Thatcher’s years in office and gives viewers the idea that Streep’s performance is a caricature. Both are wrong.

The film is really about what it means to be old and dealing with the overwhelming loss of one’s mate. Margaret Thatcher is just the vehicle for an exploration of what it means to be near the end of one’s life and to have lost almost everything that gave that life meaning. In this case, that includes one’s husband, political power, and national visibility.


Shame: A Review Sunday, Jan 8 2012 

While we were in New York City last month, PJ and I saw Shame directed by Steve McQueen and starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. Fassbender plays Brandon, a high-functioning sex addict who’s delicately balanced world is thrown off keel when his sister, played by Mulligan, comes for an unexpected visit. Here’s the trailer:

Shame is a fascinating character study. The film’s emphasis is less on plot — Brandon drifts from one sexual liaison to the next without a whole lot of direction or purposefulness — and more on examining what’s happening to Brandon as he grapples with trying to make connections without other people. The way I saw it, sex is the only way in which he can connect, and when women — his sister and a beautiful co-worker, played by Nicole Beharie, begin to make demands on him that involve anything even remotely emotional, his world begins to fall apart.

We first saw Fassbender in Hunger, McQueen’s 2008 brilliant first feature about the 1981 Irish hunger strike. Fassbender was amazing in that role, and he’s equally great here. Both films focus on Fassbender’s body, but in very different ways. In Hunger, his character starves himself to death. Here, Brandon is obsessed with replacing the emotional with the physical. He’s a man who can’t satiate his emotional needs with sex, but he nevertheless tries and tries and tries.


The Devil’s Double: A Review Sunday, Dec 11 2011 

Last night, PJ and I watched The Devil’s Double, which tells the story of Latif Yahia, who was forced to become the body double for Uday Hussein, Sadam Hussein’s psychotic son. Based on a true story, The Devil’s Double stars Dominic Cooper as both Latif and Uday in a memorizing performance that makes this movie a must-see. Here’s the trailer:

Cooper is amazing in this role. In the past, I’ve mostly thought of him as a sexy actor. In such movies as Momma Mia!, An Education, The Duchess, and The History Boys, he stands out as a handsome, attractive man rather than as an accomplished actor. The Devil’s Double certainly makes the most of his physical attractiveness. Early in the movie, for example, we see him in various states of undress, such as with his shirt unbuttoned:

In a speedo:


The Future: A Quick Review Wednesday, Dec 7 2011 

Miranda July‘s You and Me and Everyone We Know is one of my favorite movies, so PJ and I were looking forward to seeing her new movie, The Future, which is about a 30-something couple, played by July and Hamish Linklater, who lead rather aimless lives until they decide to adopt a cat, Paw-Paw, who happens to be severely ill and who they think will only live a short time. In essence, they’re going to adopt it just so it can have a home to die in.

When they go to pick up the cat, they learn that they will have to wait 30 days before it can come home with them and that it might live for a few years if they nurse it properly. This isn’t at all what they had planned for, and it throws their lives into disarray. Jason, played by Linklater, quits his job as a computer tech guy and volunteers to help save the environment, and Sophie, played by July, quits her job as a children’s dance teacher and starts an affair with an older man with a young daughter. As their relationship falls apart, Paw-Paw, who also narrates the film, waits in the shelter hoping they will come to rescue him/her.

Here’s the trailer:

I won’t give away any more of the plot than that, but I have to say that this is one of the most affecting movies I’ve seen in a long time. Just thinking about it recalls the emotions I felt while watching it. I’m not sure I understand it, and I’m not even sure I enjoyed it, but I nevertheless think it is an interesting, smart, complex, and powerful movie that has stayed with me.

The Muppets: A Quick Review Tuesday, Dec 6 2011 

PJ and I recently saw the new Muppets movie starring Jason Segel, Amy Adams, and the Muppets. Here’s the trailer:

The plot of the movie is pretty simple: it’s been years since the Muppets were hot, so they have each gone their separate ways to have careers of their own. Some are barely making it — like Fozzie Bear, who stars in a knock-off group, The Moopets — while others are wildly successful in their new careers — like Gonzo, who runs a plumber supply shop. When Walter, a new character, and his fellow Muppet fans Gary and Mary (Segel and Adams) arrive in Hollywood to tour the Muppet Studios only to discover that evil oil baron Chris Cooper is planning to demolish the Muppet Theater and drill for oil, they reunite the Muppets for a big televised benefit to safe the theater.

Overall, The Muppets is fun and enjoyable. I thought the early plot points took a little too long to unfold — I would have liked more of the telethon scenes — but the songs are good, and it’s simply fun to see the Muppets on-screen again. I wish they would return to TV. Disney should restart The Muppet Show! People my age would love it!


Weekend: A Review Saturday, Nov 12 2011 

Last night PJ and I went to see Weekend, a new gay independent film about two men, Russell and Glen, who meet on a one-night stand and end up spending a weekend together. Here’s the trailer:

This movie has gotten great reviews, and we assumed we would have to wait until our trip to New York next month to see it, so we were really excited when our local art theater, The Athena, announced that it was showing here. It’s not a perfect movie, but I really enjoyed it — it’s far and away better than the average gay independent movie!

Tom Cullen plays Russell, a not quite fully out gay man in search of connection after spending the evening drinking and smoking pot with his best straight friends. Chris New plays Glen, an artist who politicizes his gayness by talking loudly about gay S&M while hanging out in straight bars and then arguing with the other patrons about it, for example.

As the two men spend the weekend talking, arguing, fucking, and partying, they begin to open up to one another as they’ve never opened up to anyone before. The most appealing aspect of the film is the emotional honesty that these characters have. You feel like you’re eavesdropping on real conversations. For example, Glen and Russell talk about their coming out stories. Both of their stories feel real and honest. These moments seem incredibly wise and insightful but not out of character — Glen and Russell are never wiser than men like them would be. I tend to like talky pictures; that’s definitely what I like best about Weekend.


Eating Out: Drama Camp: A Review Saturday, Oct 29 2011 

Last night PJ and I watched Eating Out: Drama Camp, the latest in the farcical series of gay movies that specialize in the sexual hi-jinks of young gay men and their lady friends.

In this fourth installment of the franchise, Zack and Casey, the leading men introduced in the third movie, Eating Out: All You Can Eat, are still together but having some problems in the bedroom: Zack, played by Chris Salvatore, no longer seems interested in Casey, played by Daniel Skelton. These problems are compounded by their heading off to a drama camp, where temptations to stray abound.

Eating Out: Drama Camp is hilariously sexy and loads of fun! This is queer, bawdy humor at its best.

The third installment of this franchise seemingly sent the series in a new, much more interesting direction: the main characters were all played by gay men, the plot revolved around Casey’s efforts to seduce Zack, another gay guy, and it all added up to a lot of heart. While maybe it shouldn’t matter whether the actors are gay, I really liked that Skelton and Salvatore were out during their promotion of the movie. I was tired of some of he earlier movies’ stars efforts to distance themselves from the plots’ gay content. Likewise, I liked that All You Can Eat was about one gay guy chasing another openly gay guy. The is-he-or-isn’t he plot of the second movie wore thin for me. And I liked the combination of sexual humor, romance, and sentiment in the third movie. It all added up to a queer comedy made for and by queers, something I both admire and enjoyed.


Bridesmaids: A Review Monday, Oct 24 2011 

Over the weekend, PJ and I finally watched Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. We’ve been looking forward to seeing this movie since we missed it at the theater.

Wiig plays Annie, a down-on-her-luck woman who’s dating a jerk and recently lost her bakery due to the bad economy. When her best friend Lillian, played by Rudolph, announces her engagement, Annie accepts her role as maid of honor with mixed feelings: while happy for her friend, she’s also jealous of how everything in her life is so perfect. As Annie copes with these feelings and ineptly takes up her wedding duties, she also has to tangle with Helen, played by Rose Byrne, who seems wedding planning as a competitive sport.

Surprisingly, I didn’t really care much for this movie. Everyone has talked up its gross out humor, with the big twist being that its women being gross this time rather than men. But I didn’t think the movie was all that funny. I love Wiig and Rudolph, and I was ready to laugh and enjoy the jokes, but Bridesmaids just doesn’t add up to much. It’s entirely predictable, and I don’t think it really has much to say today’s woman, weddings, relationships, or anything else.


Never Let Me Go: A Quick Review Tuesday, Sep 13 2011 

Over the weekend, PJ insisted that I watch one of his favorite movies from last year, Never Let Me Go, starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield. The movie tells an alternate history narrative: a cure was discovered for all major illnesses, extending life expectancies to 100 years or more. The “cure” is creating human clones whose organs are harvested and used for “real” humans. Here’s the trailer:

Just about everyone I know loves this movie, and I skimmed the novel earlier this year just to see what they were all raving about. I have to say up front that this isn’t the kind of movie I generally like. I don’t films in which we’re made to sympathize with a character only to watch him or her inevitably move toward tragedy. It’s just not my cup of tea.


The Help: A Quick Review Monday, Sep 12 2011 

PJ and I recently saw The Help, starring Viola Davis and Emma Stone as a black maid in the 1960s South and the white woman who helps her tell her story of racial prejudice and outrage. Here’s the trailer:

I really enjoyed this movie a lot. It’s definitely a crowd-pleaser, and I thought it was much more sophisticated than some of the stories I’d read about it seemed to suggest. In particular, this movie is not about a woman who saves the helpless black people. Not to give too much away, but a) she doesn’t save anyone — they save her, and b) the maids are definitely not saved at the end of the tale.


« Previous PageNext Page »