June 18, 2011

In a Word: Movie Reviews in One Word

THE TOP TIER

ARN: THE KNIGHT TEMPLAR (2007) *****
Based on Jan Guillou's Crusades trilogy about Swedish Knight Templar Arn Magnusson (Joakim Nätterqvist), this adventure saga follows the son of nobility from his monastic education to his return to the family to help fight for the crown of Sweden. That mission is interrupted, however, when Arn impregnates his lover and is sent to the Holy Land, where as penance he must become a warrior for Christ in the battles of the Crusades.
IN A WORD: GRIPPING


THE GRADUATE (1967) ****

Dustin Hoffman (in his first major film role) turns in a landmark performance as a naïve college graduate who is seduced by a middle-aged neighbor (Anne Bancroft) but ends up falling in love with her beautiful, young daughter (Katharine Ross). Mike Nichols won a Best Director Oscar for this 1960s classic, which boasts an immortal score from Simon and Garfunkel that includes the iconic "Mrs. Robinson."
IN A WORD: MEMORABLE

ANIMAL FARM (1999) ****

Only somewhat faithful to George Orwell's allegorical novel, this made-for-TV adaptation uses real animals as well as Jim Henson's puppets to tell the story of a band of farm animals who stage a revolt against their human owner (Pete Postlethwaite) in a bid for freedom. Several notable names provide the voices of the animals, including Kelsey Grammer as Snowball, Patrick Stewart as Napoleon and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Mollie.

IN A WORD: MOVING



DEAD CALM (1989) ****

The Ingrams -- John (Sam Neill) and Rae (Nicole Kidman) -- set off for an extended sailing trip after their young son dies tragically in a car crash. When they come across another seafarer (Billy Zane) feverishly paddling away from a sinking schooner, they bring him aboard -- and quickly realize he's a murderous sociopath. Masterfully directed by Phillip Noyce, this violent, psychological thriller helped launch Kidman's film career.

IN A WORD: SUSPENSEFUL


SALT (2010) ****

After she's accused of being a Russian sleeper spy, rogue CIA agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) goes on the run, using every tactic, accent and disguise she knows to elude her pursuers, clear her name and protect her husband. Her supervisor, Winter (Liev Schreiber), buys her story, while counterintelligence officer Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) decidedly does not and will do anything to stop her in this fast-paced, intrigue-filled spy adventure.

IN A WORD: TWIST


DIRTY PRETTY THINGS (2002) ****

Undocumented immigrants Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Senay (Audrey Tautou) work at a posh London hotel and live in constant fear of deportation. One night, Okwe stumbles across evidence of a bizarre murder, setting off a series of events that could lead to disaster -- or freedom. This gritty, complex thriller from director Stephen Frears received an Oscar nod for its screenplay.

IN A WORD: AUDREY (I love her!)


MARIA FULL OF GRACE (2004) ****

Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno) is a smart, independent 17-year-old girl from Colombia who agrees to smuggle a half-kilo of heroin into the United States for a shot at a normal existence in "El Norte" -- where she imagines the city streets are paved with gold. Sandino Moreno's sensitive portrayal of an atypical drug-running "mule" earned her an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead.

IN A WORD: BRILLIANT


FOLLOW THE PROPHET (2009) ****

In a secluded corner of Utah, fresh-faced Avery Colden (Annie Burgstede) learns on her 15th birthday that she's been selected as the new bride of prophet Brother John (Tom Noonan). Determined to have a say in her destiny, the teenager summons the courage to run. With the aid of Col. Jude Marks (Robert Chimento) and sympathetic sheriff Red (Diane Verona), Avery then undertakes a mission to save not just herself but all those she left behind.

IN A WORD: FASCINATING


THE SECRET OF KELLS (2009) ***

When Vikings attack an Irish abbey, the monks must stop work on the legendary Book of Kells and protect their home. So Brendan (voiced by Evan McGuire), the 12-year-old nephew of Abbott Cellach (Brendan Gleeson), is tasked with completing the magnificent work. Now, he must confront his most intense fears as he uses his illumination skills and braves the enchanted forest outside the abbey walls in this exhilarating, Oscar-nominated animated tale.

IN A WORD: ENTERTAINING


LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (2010) ***

Pharmaceutical representative Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) becomes a player in the big game of male-performance-enhancement-drug sales and, along the way, finds unexpected romance with a woman (Anne Hathaway) suffering from Parkinson's disease. Based on the real-life Jamie Reidy's memoir, Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, this satirical look inside the culture of Big Pharm is directed by Edward Zwick.

IN A WORD: PEDESTRIAN


THE UNDERWHELMERS

THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010) **

Director David Fincher's biographical drama chronicles the meteoric rise of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) from Harvard sophomore to Internet superstar, examining his relationships with co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake). Winning Golden Globes for Best Picture and Best Director, the film also racked up Oscar nods in the same categories and for lead actor Eisenberg.

IN A WORD: BORING

CLOSER (2004) **

Oscar-winning director Mike Nichols exposes the ugly core hiding behind the slick veneer of four beautiful people and their tangled personal relationships in this drama based on the hit Broadway play. A photographer (Julia Roberts) seems content with her boyfriend (Clive Owen), and a romantic (Jude Law) adores his quirky beloved (Oscar nominee Natalie Portman). But when two of them embark on an illicit affair, a cascade of betrayal ensues.

IN A WORD: ISSUES (As in these people have a lot of them.)

4 comments:

  1. I remember when The Graduate first came out - it was considered shocking. Sorry to see you found The Social Network boring - I enjoyed it.

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  2. I saw The Graduate a few years ago. It was okay.

    Not terribly surprised Love & Other Drugs is pedestrian. :)

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  3. Love & Other Drugs was the biggest con. The trailer had nothing to do with what the movie was about. I actually nearly walked out of the cinema. It's like the movie couldnt work out what it wanted to me.

    Social Network I actually enjoyed but I went into it knowing nothing really and not really wanted to watch it.

    Salt was a good fun movie I loved it.

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  4. Of those that I've seen, I'd have to say I agree about all of them except The Social Network. Given that I agree with you so much, I think I'd better pick up some of the others!

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