Is it worth $10? Yes
Reality, the book, the play, and the film--where does one end and the other begin? Director/co-writer Roman Polanski has almost endless fun with this concept in his "Venus In Fur." The good news is that you'll enjoy it nearly as much as the famous (and infamous) filmmaker obviously did.An actress, Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner [2013's "In The House”]), is aggressive in her pursuit of the lead role in a play titled "Venus In Fur," while Thomas, the playwright/director, is jaded, fed up with the immature actresses he's auditioned thus far. It's late at night, and Thomas (Mathieu Amalric, previously paired with Seigner in 2007's tour-de-force "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly") is headed out the door of the theater. (Not coincidentally, Amalric looks a lot like Polanski in his forties.) Bit by bit, Vanda begins to break down his considerable defenses and, soon, the after-hours audition is on.
Is it worth $10? Yes
In spite of its tired, formulaic story, stereotypical characters and overall “blah” execution, “And So It Goes” is tolerable thanks to Michael Douglas’ sharp wit and his chemistry with Diane Keaton. What is indisputably awful is this: the title. Just hearing it makes me think of old people preaching their way through old-timey stories.Douglas is widower Oren Little, a realtor looking to sell his former home for $8.6 million so he can retire and move to Vermont (Really? Vermont? During the summer, sure. But when it’s two degrees in the midst of a whiteout blizzard in January, no thanks.).
Is it Worth $10? No
“Lucy” is the latest Euro-thriller from Luc Besson, who might as well have his own genre of films. Each one of them seems to be a cookie-cutter copy of the previous, just with different decorations on it. Need proof of this? Check out how I started my review to his last offering, 3 Days to Kill:
“Luc Beeson certainly has the European action-thriller on lock. In his latest effort… all of the elements that typically occur in his more recent films are present. A highly trained American kills a whole lot of Europeans.”
This time, the American, Lucy, isn’t exactly highly trained, but does leave many dead in her wake. And if there is any doubt that it is a Besson movie, check out the poster in Times Square late in the film; it’s for “The Family.”
Is it worth $10? Yes
During the first few minutes of director Anton Corbijn's ("The American" ) "A Most Wanted Man," you can't tell if Philip Seymour Hoffman's Günther Bachmann is an accomplice in a planned terrorist attack, a government agent, or both. Later, it's clear that Bachmann's small, specialized anti-terrorism task force exists to protect Germany (and the rest of the free world) from the most dangerous malefactors. Ideally, the next Mohammed Atta — who was involved in planning the 9/11 attacks — would be neutralized and captured on German soil.
There's lots to celebrate in this swanky production which showcases Corbijn’s stylistic visual sensibilities. While the story itself isn't spectacular, the screenplay by Andrew Bovell ("Lantana" ) is smart and sharp. Hoffman is on his game, as usual, in this, his final lead role. Plus, you're treated to Rachel McAdams in a non-romantic role, refreshingly showing subtle, not-often-seen facets of her talent.
Is it worth $10? Yes
“Boyhood” was shot in 39 days, which is modest by Hollywood standards. What isn’t modest is the fact that those 39 days were over the course of 12 years, which allows writer/director Richard Linklater (“Before Sunrise”) to show the growth of a six year-old into an 18 year-old college freshman in the span of 166 minutes. It’s a remarkable piece of filmmaking.
When we first meet Mason (Ellar Coltrane) he’s a sweet six-year old who often fights with his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, Richard’s daughter). Their parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) are divorced, and mom is essentially raising them on her own with their father only around for an occasional weekend. Nothing particularly interesting here.
In “Sabotage,” Arnold Schwarzenegger plays John “Breacher” Wharton, a rough and tumble, no-nonsense leader of an elite squad of DEA agents who specialize in raiding the homes of drug cartel kingpins and busting each other’s chops with what I am sure they think is witty banter. The film opens with them stealing some cash from a mansion they’re raiding. The plan is to come back later for the loot and split it up. One problem: When they go back, it’s gone. And since this squad is the only one who know the loot was there, one of them had to take it. But who—and who can and cannot be trusted?Clever premise, and in spite of some awful dialogue—the kind of tough talk written by someone who has no idea what tough talk really sounds like—it is well executed. As Breacher’s crew gets knocked off one by one, and in some extremely gruesome ways, a homicide inspector named Caroline (Olivia Williams) partners with Breacher to catch the killer. It all leads to a pretty exciting showdown involving big cars and bigger guns, with a satisfying payoff. In addition to the dialogue, the chemistry between the characters could have been better, but in a movie like “Sabotage” I can forgive the lack of chemistry since all of the supporting players are a means to an end. That is, they’re there to get bumped off and ratchet up the suspense of who will be next until all is revealed in the climactic showdown. “Sabotage” may not be deep in portraying its band of brothers, but on a more superficial level it offers gore, guts, and good times. Nothing wrong with that, just take it for what it is and Rent It.
This past season “Modern Family,” one of TV’s most progressive and popular sitcoms, hosted an extravagant wedding in its two part season finale. The fact that the wedding was between two men did not detract from the sweetness and hilarity as everything went wrong and all their best laid plans fell apart. The thing about that wedding was the audience was rooting for these characters. They have rough moments but accept each other for who they are and, even more relevant, their families learn to accept them too.
ABC also used the finale as a platform to support gay marriage for real couples as well; they offered to pay for same sex couples to get married in New York City in the weeks leading up to the finale episodes. It was a somewhat surprising move but one that garnered a lot of good will and, oddly, not a lot of backlash. While “Modern Family” is certainly not the first sitcom to feature a same sex marriage – “Roseanne” featured one of the first gay weddings to be aired on a broadcast network – other sitcom series that have tried to focus on same sex couples have not gone so well (“Partners,” “The New Normal,” etc.). Regardless of how well the shows have done at respectfully examining the dynamics of the couples, they never really connected with the audience and didn’t make it past their first season.
Is it worth $10? No
Cameron Diaz is gorgeous, and in “Sex Tape” that’s a bad thing.
As appealing as the notion of a naked Diaz having frequent sex in a raunchy comedy may be, the reality of “Sex Tape” is this: It’s incredibly unsexy. Why? Because it’s hard to believe a sultry sexpot like Diaz would settle for an average Joe like Jason Segel, so we never buy them as a couple. Worse, the sex scenes aren’t sexy – they feel mechanical and choreographed when they should be wild and uninhibited.The movie is also not funny and lacks energy, it features the worst parenting decision of the year, and Diaz and Segel have zero chemistry. We’re supposed to believe their characters met in college and couldn’t stop having sex. Instead we notice how uncomfortable they look together and don’t laugh at the jokes because none of it seems genuine.