Sunday, June 15, 2014
Stars: Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, Amy Brenneman, Valerie Tian
Director: Fred Schepisi
Genre: Romantic Drama
Opposites attract. That's been the theme of many a romantic comedy since time immemorial. In Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) and Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche) we have two sharply delineated characters as different as words and pictures.
Marcus is a poet of some note who teaches at an elite New England prep school. He's passionate about trying to instill an appreciation for literature in his students, many of whom are only familiar with the printed word in the form of text messages (smart phones in a dumbed-down America).
Delsanto is the aloof art teacher who snubs Jack's playful advances at every turn, but she is just as passionate in the classroom about trying to light a fire under the butts of her students.
Will the passion that flames in their hearts for words and pictures eventually translate into the burning hots for each other? You wouldn't think so. Jack is a raging alcoholic. Plus he's clumsy when he's staggering around. Just when Delsanto is beginning to let her guard down, he crashes into her precious work-in-progress and ruins it. Talk about being on somebody's shit list! Even more annoying to a woman, I would think, is that the guy never takes his glasses off--even in bed!
Can such obstacles be overcome? Will Obama and Putin ever get chummy again? Getting there is half the fun. In Words And Pictures it's most of the fun, as their on-again off-again romance plays out against the backdrop of a spirited and often poignant competition between their students to prove which is more relevant--art or literature?
Grade: B +
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Rated : R
Stars: Seth Macfarlane, Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman
Director: Seth MacFarlane
If the image of Neil Patrick Harris developing sudden gastrointestinal problems, grabbing a stranger's hat and taking a dump in it right in the middle of the street doesn't tickle your funny bone, then you probably are not cut out for this rootin' tootin' tale of the west that comes from the flipped-out imagination of Seth MacFarlane, creator of South Park, Family Guy, and the movie Ted.
It's like watching an episode of Family Guy in an old west setting with a potpourri (poopourri?) of similarly outlandish sight gags and politically incorrect stuff that wouldn't fly on TV, but it's all brilliantly done--and whether or not this type of effrontery to the let's pretend "sensitivity" of modern times is your cup of tea, you have to admire the creativity and the pure adolescent joy with which MacFarlane and company have gone about their business in A Million Ways To Die In The West.
There is so much to like about this movie. From the opening theme, which evokes a Bonanza kind of nostalgia for the old westerns, to a really trippy mushroom induced CGI sequence, to the surprising sweetness of a boy-girl romance that's interwoven between all the gags.
With a big name ensemble cast, who were all good sports to have signed onto such a project, undoubtedly knowing that A Million Ways To Die In The West was going to take a lot of hits from sourpuss reviewers.