December 22, 2006, - 2:22 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
There is a long list of movies released today for the big holiday weekend. Ironically, the sixth installment of “Rocky”–”Rocky Balboa” (my reviews here, here, and here), released Wednesday–bests them all. This weekend’s offerings include two movies with the words, “The Good,” in the title. It’s false advertising, since neither is actually good. Then, there are two movies that are deceptively marketed as men’s genres, football and a spy flick, both of which are really overdramatic Lifetime-style “Movies of the Week” on the silver screen. The choices:
* “The Good Shepherd“: This is being promoted as a spy movie. It is hardly that, but here’s what it is: miserable, 3-hours long, boring, and pointless.
It’s a chick flick pretending to be something else. Supposedly about the founding of the CIA, it’s more about cockamamie, drawn out spy machinations that make little sense and aren’t exciting. Lifetime does the spy biz. It features a lot of arguing and fighting between cold, unemotional, fictional CIA operative Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) and his wife (Palestinian terrorism-supporter Angelina Jolie), and the empty, distant relationship Wilson has with her and their son (who, thanks to the “magic”? of Hollywood, looks the same age as them once he is in college).
The spy theatrics are mostly overwrought, convoluted nothings having very little to do with the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, Soviet communists and before that, Nazis. Big in the movie is the famed “Skull & Bones” fraternity of Yale, and the men who came out of it to form the OSS and then the CIA. Boooooooring. Is there a plot in this movie? No.
Seemingly out of place, but generating a laugh from me, was Joe Pesci in a novel role for him: mobster. Robert De Niro should stick to acting, because–if this movie is any indication–he’s a terrible director. The movie is snooty for no due reason. Also in this insufferable cinematic marathon: Alec Baldwin, who still hasn’t moved from America as promised.
My friend, Detroit film critic Tom Long, said it best:
Painfully overlong, weighed down by its own self-conscious seriousness and filled with non-surprises, “The Good Shepherd” will appeal only to those who like dreary tales filled with unlikable characters.
Skip this. You’ll thank me.
* “Dreamgirls“: Well-acted and sung, this movie is a chick-flick made out of a hit Broadway musical of the same name. Entertaining, light, and starring Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy, and Jamie Foxx, the real star of this one is former “American Idol” contestant, Jennifer Hudson.
Loosely based on the story of the Supremes, Motown, and Berry Gordy, Jr., a trio of black female pop singers helps usher in the Motown sound on their way to superstardom, but the best singer of the pack, Effie (Hudson) is pushed out. Worth seeing.
* “The Good German“: Oy! George Clooney stars in this pretentious, wanna-be, “Casablanca”-lite film in black-and-white. War correspondent Jacob Geismer (Clooney) returns to post-WWII Germany to cover a conference at Potsdam on the future of Germany. But he’s really there to find his former love, Lena Brandt (Cate Blanchett), a German woman who has turned to prostitution. Her husband, a Nazi SS man, is wanted for his knowledge of V2 missiles at Dora Concentration Camp. Is he alive? All sides want him, and they want her, too.
Goes in a million different twists and turns. The beautiful clothing and non-color film are high on style, but low on substance and plot. Too convoluted to be taken seriously. And kind of disturbing. Not a great portrayal of America in post-War Germany–another reason to hate this film. Slow, long, and boring. Little redeeming in this film.
* “Letters From Iwo Jima“: Read my initial review. Told from the point of view of Japanese soldiers who fought in the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, against America. They are honorable, whereas the brief scenes of American soldiers show them to be creepy murderers who kill Japanese soldiers in cold blood after they’ve already surrendered. This is Director Clint Eastwood’s gift to the America that his given him so much–a huge slap in the face, after the first slap he already gave American Iwo Jima veterans with his specious, “Flags of Our Fathers,” earlier this fall.
2.5 hours long, this was very boring, completely in Japanese (with English subtitles), and confusing. Not worth the time and effort to try to stay awake, which is surely a losing battle. Major skipworthiness. Again, read my initial review.
* “We Are Marshall“: Read my initial reaction. Lifetime does football. This way-too-long, way-too-tearful movie creates fictional characters in the real-life story of the rebuilding of West Virginia’s Marshall University, after most of its coaches and players died in a 1970 plane crash.
Less about football, and more about men repeatedly crying and having emotional attacks. Not pretty, just painful. Ditto for the bad fashions, haircuts, and sideburns for men in the ’70s. Matthew McConaughey, who plays the new coach Lengyel, seems like a cartoon character, clown, and parody rolled into one.
Male crybabies feeling guilty is not enough to make an interesting movie. Again, read my initial reaction: “We Are Marshall” = “We Are Girlie-Men.”
Tags: Alec Baldwin, America, American Idol, Angelina Jolie, Bay of Pigs, Berry Gordy, Beyonce Knowles, Casablanca, Cate Blanchett, Central Intelligence Agency, Clint Eastwood, coach, correspondent, Cuba, Debbie Schlussel There, Detroit, director, Dora Concentration Camp, Dreamgirls, Eddie Murphy, Edward Wilson, false advertising, film critic, Flags of Our Fathers, football, George Clooney, Germany, Jacob Geismer (Clooney), Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, Joe Pesci, Jr., Lena Brandt, Lengyel, Marshall University, Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, Motown, Movies of the Week, operative, Robert De Niro, singer, Skull & Bones, spy, terrible director, The Good, The Good German, The Good Shepherd, Tom Long, We Are Marshall, West Virginia, Yale