Jimi: All Is By My Side-2014

Jimi: All Is By My Side-2014

Director-John Ridley

Starring-Andre Benjamin

Scott’s Review #487


Reviewed September 30, 2016

Grade: A-

Jimi: All Is By My Side was not quite the film that I was expecting it to be-it was better!

I was not expecting drivel certainly, the film did receive a Best Male Lead Independent Spirit Award nomination for Andre Benjamin in the title role, after all. But I expected an overview of the rise and fall of famed rocker Jimi Hendrix. Instead, I was treated to a more introspective piece than I imagined.

The film is a British production.

Interestingly, the film was denied use of any Jimi Hendrix songs familiar to audiences, but only songs were written in 1966 and 1967.

This surprisingly turns out to be positive to the film.

The awesome achievement of this film is its non-conformity and being an independent film, lots of freedoms were undoubtedly given.

This is a good thing.

Had this film been targeted for a run at the local multiplex, it may have been a run-of-the-mill affair, focusing on the star and the star only. It is also shot in a less than glossy way, giving it an almost grainy, gritty look that I found added something.

Impressively, the supporting characters, specifically three females that Hendrix has relationships with throughout his initial rise to fame, are prominently featured, and the story shifts at times to their perspectives and feelings, not just on Hendrix’s. The film does not focus on Hendrix’s untimely death.

We meet Hendrix (compellingly played by Benjamin) performing guitar in a sparsely attended bar in New York City. He is discovered by Linda, girlfriend of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, as she becomes both smitten with Hendrix and also recognizes his immense talents. Slowly, he is discovered (mainly in London) and rises to fame.

However, the film is not solely focused on his success, but rather his personal life.

Besides Linda, Hendrix becomes involved with volatile groupie and fixture among the 1960’s London music scene, Kathy, and cultured American Ida. Instead of the female characters being written as one-dimensional and dizzy, all three are quite intelligent and layered.

While each has feelings for the star, they are forced to be reckoned with in their own right, and we grow to care about their characters as individuals.

A scene involving Jimi violently beating girlfriend Kathy with a telephone during an argument has been refuted by friends as being fictitious- Hendrix was known as a gentle, peaceful man.

A controversy has emerged as to the accuracy of this film in general, but I thought it quite introspective and fascinating.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best Male Lead-Andre 3000

Belle De Jour-1967

Belle De Jour-1967

Director-Luis Bunuel

Starring-Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel

Scott’s Review #486


Reviewed September 29, 2016

Grade: A

Belle De Jour, the title translated to “lady of the day”, a French pun for “lady of the night”, a kind phrase for prostitution, is a fantastic art film. Stylish, sophisticated, and open to interpretation (at least in my opinion), Belle De Jour is a late 1960’s journey into eroticism, social norms, and sexual freedom. Gorgeous star Catherine Deneuve has never looked better and calmly does mental conflict. The film is directed by Luis Bunuel.

Severine is a wealthy young newlywed, seemingly who has it all. She is showered with love and affection, not to mention material items, by her handsome hubby, Pierre, played by dashing Jean Sorel. She wants for nothing as her husband is a doctor of great wealth. Yet she is unhappy and refuses to have physical relations with Pierre.

She begins a secret life as a prostitute in a posh home, only working in the afternoons, to avoid being found out. She has no regrets but is apprehensive about the clients she meets. Throughout the film, Severine has secret fantasies about being kept in bondage and enduring various other sexual humiliations. All the while, the question asked is “Is this all Severine’s fantasy or reality”?  Or perhaps merely a portion is. The audience wonders.

Do we feel sorry for the character of Severine? Absolutely not. In fact, one could make the argument she is spoiled and selfish, but she is not evil, but rather confused. She is quite polite, and Deneuve fills her with kindness and even an angelic spirit.

One cannot despise her even though on the surface one might be tempted to. What right does this woman have to rebuff her husband in place of sleazy clients? One particularly volatile client becomes obsessed with Severine and stalks her, going so far as exacting violence against her husband. But wait, is this Severine’s fantasy or reality? Is she imagining everything and merely obediently waiting at home for her husband to return each day or is she living this life?

Many shots of gorgeous Paris are used by Bunuel, including the famed Arc de Triomphe and many other interesting streets and sights, which is a treat for fans of culture. The use of these exteriors goes a long way to ensure that the film is clearly “French” from a visual perspective.

Certainly, in 1967, the sexual revolution was in full swing and Belle De Jour epitomized the revolution of the times. Yet, it does not feel dated or reduced to a film “of its time”. I find it more a character study than a genre film as Severine is an interesting study.

Belle De Jour challenges the viewer with an intense yet subtle story of a woman conflicted with sexual desire and repression- a film open to much interpretation and discussion. It does what an art film is supposed to do- makes us think and ponder.



Director-David O. Russell

Starring- Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro

Scott’s Review #485


Reviewed September 24, 2016

Grade: B-

Joy is a safe, mainstream, female-centered 2015 film, a biopic written for current star Jennifer Lawrence. She was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for her role and she carries the film.

Still, despite her very good performance, the film is nothing special and is written in a ho-hum manner.

It is simply not very compelling and the supporting characters are not utilized as they could have been. Despite being based on a true story, the writing is lazy and the plot far-fetched. I expected more.

The film is another collaboration between director, David O. Russell, and big stars of the time- Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert DeNiro- all used in previous Russell films.

Lawrence plays Joy- a struggling Long Island mother of two- divorced from her husband (who still lives in the basement of her house), with multiple family members living with her, forming a support unit.  The sense is that Joy is the breadwinner of the family.

The story is narrated by Joy’s grandmother, who she calls Mimi (Diane Ladd). Mimi always had a feeling Joy would be a success and we see a few scenes of Joy as a child, surviving her dysfunctional family and her parent’s disputes.

DeNiro plays her womanizing father, divorced from her mother (Virginia Madsen), who lies around in bed all day watching soap operas. Cooper plays opportunist, QVC executive, Neil Walker, who takes a liking to Joy and helps her achieve her dream as a successful businesswoman after she patents an idea for a new, high-powered mop.

Enjoyable to me was the authenticity of the time- circa 1989- and through the 1990’s- as we see Joy working for Eastern Airlines, a company that would fold several years later. Also authentic were the automobiles of the time as well as the dress and hairstyles.

These points the film does very well. And how cute was it to see famous daytime television stars such as Susan Lucci, portraying soap opera stars, as Joy’s mother lives her life vicariously through their tangled and bizarre soap lives?

Several scenes occur on the television set as we get glimpses of the soap stories.

The film as a whole, though, feels too neat.

Predictably, Joy faces obstacles on her way to success.  Already struggling financially, she takes out a second mortgage on her house. At first, she cannot give away mops, let alone sell them. On the brink of giving up, she finagles a meeting with execs who laugh at her product, but Walker is there to give her a break because she has a pretty face.

Predictably, things do not go well at first, and there is a rather dull subplot about a company in Texas trying to steal Joy’s idea. When she goes and threatens them they immediately back down and obediently give in to her every whim. This is both unrealistic and uninteresting.

I much rather would have seen a messy back and forth and/or some court scenes, but the Texas company is portrayed as nothing but the villain.

The writing has either plot holes or contains missed opportunities altogether and many questions abound. Despite many scenes of Joy’s past we end up knowing little.

Her entire family lives with her in a suburban Long Island house- why does Joy own the house and not her mother or grandmother? Why does Joy have a rivalry with her half-sister, Peggy? Why does Joy’s father own an auto garage and still need to stay with Joy, presumably always broke? Why is Joy’s mother mostly in bed?

Madsen as the mother is rather cartoonish and unnecessary to the plot as is Ladd- a dynamic actress given little of substance.  I did not buy DeNiro as a cad nor as in love with his wealthy new girlfriend Trudy (though great seeing Isabella Rossellini in the part), conveniently there to be Joy’s financer.

Despite an enormously talented cast, which is fantastic to see, most of the supporting parts could have been played by any actors, as the roles are not all that challenging, and the film itself is for certain a vehicle to showcase Jennifer Lawrence, David O. Russell’s current “it” girl.

This is not a slight towards Jennifer Lawrence as she is the best part of the film.  She successfully portrays Joy as a sympathetic, strong-willed, fair, decent human being, with enormous struggles, and a blue-collar sensibility.

Great performance, but I wish the writing and the other talents involved in the film were given better material.

Oscar Nominations: Best Actress-Jennifer Lawrence

A View to a Kill-1985

A View to a Kill-1985

Director-John Glen

Starring-Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Grace Jones

Scott’s Review #484


Reviewed September 21, 2016

Grade: A

Not exactly deemed a masterpiece, or even a treasured favorite, among the masses of James Bond lovers, A View to a Kill holds a soft spot for me personally. It is one of the first Bond films that I was fortunate enough to see in the movie theater and it has continued to enamor me all these decades later.

Yes, it has flaws (to be mentioned later), but it is a classic, fun, exciting, mid-1980’s Bond offering. It contains Roger Moore- in his final Bond appearance, the exotic Grace Jones, a great villain, and on-location treats such as Paris and Iceland- who could ask for anything more?

We are re-introduced to MI-6 agent James Bond on the snowy slopes of Siberia as he discovers the body of 003, along with a Soviet microchip believed to belong to the wealthy Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). Bond attends a horse sale hosted by Zorin and discovers he is drugging the horses to make them perform better.

It is also revealed that he intends to destroy Silicon Valley to rule the microchip industry. In Zorin’s camp is a mysterious woman named May Day and an odd Nazi scientist named Dr. Carl Mortner. Events conclude in San Francisco as the action-packed finale takes place in a mine and overlooking (via blimp) the historic Golden Gate bridge.

I completely get the criticisms hurled at this film- both Roger Moore and, as a secondary character, Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny, had gotten quite long in the tooth by this point in the franchise (1985), which is a shame because both are favorites of mine.

Most glaring in the “bad” department is Tanya Roberts as the main Bond girl, Stacy Sutten- almost rivaling Halle Berry (Die Another Day) as screamingly awful. Not appearing as a major character until quite late in the film, Stacey is a wealthy heir, to who Zorin is attempting to pay five million dollars to relinquish her shares in Silicon Valley (she refuses).

Robert’s acting is quite poor if I am being honest- she has no chemistry with Moore, and comes across as a bit of a dimwit, despite being written as a doctor or scientist of some sort. Regardless, she does not work as a Bond girl. Yes, the cartoon-like chase around San Francisco with the brooding police chief is unintentionally funny- another negative to the film.

But here are some strengths- Fantastic is Walken as the main villain role of Zorin. Psychotic, loony tunes, and such a pleasure to watch. With his bleached blonde hair and grimacing sneer, a particularly controversial, and favorite scene of mine is when Zorin, machine gun in hand, sprays bullets from left to right, undoubtedly killing dozens, as he gleefully laughs.

This was unprecedented in Bond films up to this point as most villains contained a safer personality- Zorin is positively monstrous and to be feared.

Also worth mentioning is Jones as May Day, simply mesmerizing in the role- although sadly her character is weakened toward the end- did she really believe Zorin was capable of love?? Countering with the anemic chemistry between Bond and Roberts, the chemistry between Jones and Moore sizzles.

Interesting to note is that this is not the first time Bond has explored an interracial (white and black) romance- far from it. Live and Let Die- circa 1973 takes this honor. I would have enjoyed much more exploration on an emotional level between Bond and May Day instead of the animalistic physical attraction.

One may wonder with all the recognizable flaws with the film, why the A-rating? Because simply put this film is fun and contains all the elements a Bond film ought to. The action is plentiful- who can forget the nail-biting Eifel tower chase or the Paris car chase- sans car roof?

Certainly, not high art, but a grand favorite of mine, A View to a Kill is entertainment personified. The pop title-theme song, performed by Duran Duran, which became a #1 hit in the summer of 1985, is a wonderful aspect of the film and immediately takes me back to a different time- I suppose the film does as well and that is a great part of my fondness for it.

The Witches-1990

The Witches-1990

Director-Nicolas Roeg

Starring-Angelica Huston

Scott’s Review #483


Reviewed September 20, 2016

Grade: B-

The Witches is a G-rated family film with a slightly dark tone that is done softly as the film is really targeted at children. However, it is a film that adults may love too. I found the film to be entertaining, with impressive special effects, and a dazzling comedic performance by Angelica Huston, but ultimately The Witches has a silly quality, though admittedly not trite, that does not completely make it a success in my book.

The film is based on a Roald Dahl children’s book – with predictably a child as the central character- similar to other Dahl novels that became films like James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I cannot help but wonder if my mediocre rating of The Witches has to do with the fact that I have not read the novel, as I have the other aforementioned novels in his collection.

Our hero in the story is Luke- a  kindly, innocent young boy living in Norway with his parents and grandmother- Helga. When his folks are tragically killed, his grandmother takes him to London to begin a new life for themselves.

When Helga falls ill, they stay at a seaside resort where they stumble upon a convention of witches disguised as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Luke and his plump friend Bruno become victims of the witch’s plot to turn children into mice. The witch group is led by the Grand High Witch (Huston), who the other witches fawn over with grandiose praise.

Huston is fantastic as she overacts the part she plays- this is not a bad thing, but makes the role quite fun and energetic. When she transforms from a glamorous woman to a shriveled monster, the transformation is interesting to watch and an impressive part of the film. Furthermore, the way that Luke and Bruno interact when they are mice is also cute and a positive to the film.

I enjoyed the aspect that, if watched closely, can be seen involving the reveal that numerous witches are really men with female wigs on. This successfully gives the witches a grotesque, obviously mannish quality and emits a chuckle of pleasure at the same time.

Still, there is something slightly childish or juvenile about the offering- while the film appears dark on the surface. The subject is rather played for laughs instead of going full steam ahead as a dark film. Undoubtedly this is due to the target audience that the film is going for. For instance, the hotel manager and his affair with a hotel maid seem slightly unnecessary.

The Witches is a decent offering due to respect for the creative aspects that it elicits- I just felt the story might have been done a bit more seriously. Additionally, the ending feels slightly forced and abrupt- a Hollywood intended ending perhaps?

Vampire Academy-2014

Vampire Academy-2014

Director-Mark Waters

Starring-Zoey Deutch

Scott’s Review #482


Reviewed September 18, 2016

Grade: C

Vampire Academy is a teenage intended mixture of Harry Potter meets Heathers meets Twilight. It is escapist fare and is quite light, but rather fun in an amateurish way.

I am certain the target audience is of the teenage, female persuasion, but when traveling one can be limited in film options.

Hence, on a chilly night in Norway, this film kept me occupied.

The story features a half human-half vampire named Rose, a teenage girl, who aspires to be a guardian, who is called back to a boarding school to uncover a hierarchical web of secrets, lies, and plots. She is accompanied by her best friend Lissa.

Predictably, there is a romantic angle to the story as Rose has feelings for Dimitri, a fellow guardian.

The film itself is fine- it knows the demographic it is going for and young adults are sure to enjoy the compelling drama, likable leads, and attractive cast.

From a film critique standpoint, there is nothing wrong with the film, but it is a bit generic and slightly predictable- from the romantic perspective, though impressively the ending is a bit of a surprise it is a whodunit of sorts.

Impressive also is Sarah Hyland (Modern Family), as nerdy classmate Natalie, who seems to be the brains and the keeper of gossip throughout the academy. The role is against type for the young actress and she does very well.

It is tough not to compare this film to the Harry Potter series of films since many aspects of Vampire Academy mirror Harry Potter- only with a female in the driver’s seat. The mysterious teachers and characters are also reminiscent of the fantastical Harry elements.

Unfortunately, a planned sequel was scrapped due to lack of interest, which surprised me. I would anticipate a film like this to be a hit and perhaps introduce a franchise, but not to be.

An adequate young adult film that borrows from other films and also harkens back to the days of former teen-minded genres of the past, specifically the 1980’s.

Date Night-2010

Date Night-2010

Director-Shawn Levy

Starring-Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg

Scott’s Review #481


Reviewed September 17, 2016

Grade: D+

Date Night is a perfect example of mediocrity in modern filmmaking. We have two current comedic actors here- Steve Carrell and Tina Fey- circa 2010- at the top of their game.

The filmmaker’s idea is to pair these two and make an appealing romantic comedy appealing to the masses.

The main issue with this film is that the result is generic and quite an average offering.

And the entire film is incredibly plot-driven with no character development to speak of. If I am being too harsh, admittedly there is rather nice chemistry between the two leads, but it is wasted because of sloppy writing.

A couple from the New Jersey burbs, Carrell and Fey portray husband and wife, Phil and Claire Foster. Saddled with two kids and their romance reaching dullsville, Phil decides to take Claire to a ritzy Manhattan restaurant.

When they arrive, they cannot get a table but pretend to be another couple (the Tripplehorn’s) to obtain their table after the other couple’s no-shows. This leads to a tale of mistaken identity as the Tripplehorns possess a flash drive that a mobster (Ray Liotta) wants.

This leads to a chase throughout Manhattan to outrun and outwit their pursuers. Wahlberg plays a hunky client of Claire’s, always shirtless, who is meant to threaten Phil and Claire’s marriage. Yawn.

Several other of the current Hollywood elite- Kristen Wiig, James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Mark Ruffalo, make small and somewhat pointless appearances. Specifically, Franco and Kunis as a stoner-type bickering couple are really silly and unnecessary to the story.

Carrell and Fey are actually quite funny as individuals and as a duo- Date Night, though, does not capitalize nor showcase their respective talents. The film tries too hard to come up with scenario after scenario of the two on the run and encountering one problematic situation after another.

As the plot of Date Night wears on, I found myself noticing that each situation that occurs is a measure of convenience.

Conveniently, Claire has a client in town (Wahlberg), who is a security expert. They go to him for help and, predictably, his hunkiness bothers Phil and piques Claire’s interest- though of course, we know full well Phil and Claire will end up together- that is how these mainstream films go.

In another scene. Phil and Claire can break into an office building unnoticed, trigger the alarms, conveniently find a needed file, and escape, miraculously all before the police arrive minutes later.

Very plot-driven.

The lead actors in Date Night are appealing and even charming together, but the silly, inane plot makes it unappealing to watch and the slew of stars that somebody decided would be a great addition to a lukewarm film is odd.

The roles are written had little bearing on the central plot so it was apparent why they were added. Date Night is a film we have seen time and time again with other actors in similar roles.



Directed-Joon-Ho Bong

Starring-Hye-Ja Kim

Scott’s Review #480


Reviewed September 11, 2016

Grade: A

Mother is brilliant! I loved it and implore people to give the film a chance.

It is a Korean film- made in 2009 that almost nobody has heard of-let alone seen, but it is fantastic. It’s a shame that it did not get more notice, but sadly, some of the best films do not.

The plot revolves around a mysterious murder that occurs in a small South Korean village and a poor village woman’s mission to exonerate her mentally challenged son, who is convicted of the crime in a botched case. The plot twists and turns and is compelling beyond belief. The real crux of the film is what lengths a mother will take to protect her son, a question many viewers can ask themselves.

Why Hye-Ja Kim, who plays the title character was not nominated for an Oscar for this role is beyond me and quite a shame. She is a goldmine and gives a terrific, memorable performance.

The movie is stylistic and has moments that resemble Hitchcock and David Lynch combined. One does not know what will transpire from scene to scene and that is the beauty of the film- besides the wonderful acting. Once the film ends viewers will feel compelled to discuss, which is an accomplished feat.

I highly recommend it.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best Foreign Film



Director-Paul Morrissey

Starring-Joe Dallesandro, Sylvia Miles

Scott’s Review #479


Reviewed September 11, 2016

Grade: A-

Heat is a Paul Morrissey/Andy Warhol collaboration in 1970s sexploitation films. The film is somewhat of a spoof of the classic film from 1950, Sunset Boulevard, and stars 1970s cult star, Joe Dallesandro.

He plays a hunky struggling actor, and former child star, who begins a relationship with a has-been actress (Sylvia Miles) and her lesbian daughter as they co-habitat in a seedy Los Angeles hotel run by plump landlady (Pat Ast).  He pays the landlady a reduced rent in exchange for sex.

Heat stars two of my favorite cult film actresses (Miles and Ast). It is a fun, over-the-top, independent style sex romp. A pleasing experience for those in the mood for something left of center.

Easy A-2010

Easy A-2010

Director-Will Gluck

Starring-Emma Stone

Scott’s Review #478


Reviewed September 10, 2016

Grade: B-

Easy A is an example of a film where some parts are good, other parts dumb. However, at the end of the day it is forgettable and who will remember a film like this in ten years?

The film is a teen comedy about a girl who makes up a rumor about herself to gain attention from her peers.

Emma Stone is great in this movie and shows the enormous potential of her budding film career. She reminds me a bit of Lindsay Lohan. She is likable and great at comedy and presents a fun persona. Also deserving of credit is Lisa Kudrow who appears in the movie.

At times, the dialogue is intelligent and witty, other times it turns into a typical dumb comedy and that is sad because based on the star power involved, Easy A might have been a better film than it was.

Red Riding Hood-2011

Red Riding Hood-2011

Director-Catherine Hardwicke

Starring-Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Julie Christie

Scott’s Review #477


Reviewed September 10, 2016

Grade: B-

I was hesitant to see Red Riding Hood in the theater because it seemed like more of a rental to me. While it is far from high art, it is an above mediocre thriller riding the current popularity of the vampire-lite genre.

It tells the tale of a teenage girl living in a medieval village that is being attacked by a mysterious wolf. The wolf, however, is human at times. The fact that it stars young actors known in current American cinema, it is unsurprising that a love story is written.

I thought the movie is decent, but not great. The whodunit is good as we wonder who the wolf in disguise is- and the cinematography excellent- I bought the time period’s authenticity. Being treated to Julie Christie in a current film is always a treat, but at times the movie is quite sappy and Twilight-ish. (it is directed by the same director). Overall not bad.



Director-Steven Spielberg

Starring-Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones

Scott’s Review #476


Reviewed September 10, 2016

Grade: A

Lincoln is a 2012 film, which received a slew of Academy Award nominations. There appear to be differing opinions about the film itself, however, Lincoln has audiences divided over whether it’s a brilliant film or a snore-fest. My opinion leans decisively toward the former.

I recognize that (especially the first half) the film is slow-moving, but I found it engrossing and well made. Even the subtle aspects (costumes, art direction, lighting) are masterfully done. I found Daniel Day Lewis’s (Abraham Lincoln) lengthy stories intriguing, not dull, and found it to be a wonderful history lesson.

Steven Spielberg does what he does best- he creates a clearly Hollywood film done well. He does do controversial, shocking, or experimental, but the mainstream fare is his forte.

Apparently, this film is not for everyone, but if you can find the patience it will be an enlightening experience- if nothing else, a thing or two may be learned.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director-Steven Spielberg, Best Actor-Daniel Day-Lewis (won), Best Supporting Actor-Tommy Lee Jones, Best Supporting Actress-Sally Field, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design (won), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing



Director-Chris Noonan

Starring-James Cromwell

Scott’s Review #475


Reviewed September 9, 2016

Grade: B

Babe is a cute, charming family film about a pig who becomes a hero while living on a farm with a family of other animals and a farmer and his wife. It is not a risky film from a story perspective- any doubts about a happy ending?- though here’s props for some visual creativity. And let’s face it- the film is sweet and heartwarming with not a mean bone in its body.

The film is an inspirational one, nice for kids no doubt, and the visual effects, i.e. how they edited the animal movements with voices successfully are well done and not tacky.

The film is certainly predictable and harmless and I’m not sure I agree with the Best Picture or Best Supporting Actor (for James Cromwell) nominations it garnered, but it was enjoyable and fun all the same.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director-Chris Noonan, Best Supporting Actor-James Cromwell, Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects (won)

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?-1969

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? -1969

Director-Sydney Pollack

Starring-Jane Fonda

Scott’s Review #474


Reviewed September 6, 2016

Grade: A-

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is a tragic, riveting film, set in the Depression-era 1930s centering on a group of contestants entering a Dance-athon for an enormous cash prize. Most of the film is set in and around the dance floor itself. Contestants bring themselves to the brink of exhaustion to win the coveted money and the desperation of the characters is horrific.

Jane Fonda leads the pack as a depressed, sarcastic, aspiring actress, who desperately needs the cash prize. The dark nature of the film is mesmerizing, though it is a difficult film to watch. I found the periodic parts of the film that seemed to drag, effective, as the contestants grew wearier as each hour drags on. It also felt like a precursor to the reality television craze that has swept the nation since the 1990s.

A tragedy, yes, but an effective and worthwhile film about the depression and the struggle to survive. And a sad reminder of brutality as a form of entertainment.

Oscar Nominations: Best Director-Sydney Pollack, Best Actress-Jane Fonda, Best Supporting Actor-Gig Young (won), Best Supporting Actress-Susannah York, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Score of a Musical Picture-Original or Adaptation, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing

This Is 40-2012

This Is 40-2012

Director-Judd Apatow

Starring-Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann

Scott’s Review #473


Reviewed September 6, 2016

Grade: B

I must admit, I was not looking forward to seeing this movie, and my initial thought was “typical dumb comedy” that has been seen a million times before. While the film does contain those elements and is clearly marketed toward a certain target audience, this movie is, surprisingly, smartly written and intelligent…overall.

I have not viewed Knocked Up, but I understand it’s a somewhat follow-up to that film, as the two central characters appear- now married and traversing through a different time in their lives-adulthood.

I enjoyed Paul Rudd’s, Melissa McCarthy’s, and whoever played the oldest daughter’s, performances the most, though Rudd has become the latest actor to play the same role over and over again. I enjoyed the rock n roll elements and the confrontation scenes as these were very cleverly written and nicely acted.

Sadly, at times the film relies on the standard bathroom humor done thousands of times before- a clear attempt at a laugh, and Jason Segal’s and Megan Fox’s characters are unnecessary to the main plot. This Is 40 is a film that, at its heart, shows the trials and tribulations of generations of families, humorously, and done rather well.