November 16, 2007, - 12:43 pm
Weekend Box Office: Cool “Beowulf,” Worthy Coen/Tommy Lee Jones Flick, Dull Wonka Wannabe, Horrid Oprah Book Club Selection
By Debbie Schlussel
A slew of new selections today and Wednesday (will post those Tuesday Night) at the movies. Also don’t forget that the GREAT “Blade Runner: The Final Cut” (Read my review and preview) rolls out in the rest of theaters nationwide this weekend and next. The new releases:
* “Beowulf“: Cool 3-D CGI version of the epic poem. Far more exciting than what they made you read in high school and far less serious. Kinda silly, but very entertaining. “300” on steroids, as played out by WWE types who parody themselves. Read my complete review.
* “No Country for Old Men“: The Coen Brothers put the Cormac McCarthy novel onscreen. This bloody, violent movie set in South Texas stars Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones. It’s very entertaining and exciting until about 3/4ths of the way through. It lost me there. Yes, no clean ending. The movie just kinda stops at the 3/4 mark and slowly dissolves.
Brolin is Llewelyn Moss, working class man who lives in a trailer with his wife. While hunting in the desert, he finds a bunch of dead Mexican drugrunners in their trucks. Then he discovers a briefcase with over $2 million in it, which he takes. But he makes a mistake, being the man of compassion that he is. He returns to bring one of the dying men water. Instead, he’s falled into a trap. And he knows it.
Psychotic criminal killer Antoine Chigurh (Javier Bardem) now knows who he is, since Moss runs and leaves his truck–traceable license plates and all–behind. Moss is now on the run, desperate to hold on to the $2 mill . . . and his life. As he tells his wife, at what point does someone stop looking for their $2 million? (ie. never)Clever Chigurh is chasing him and killing many men in his wake, with his air-compresser-turned-deadly-weapon. But Moss is almost as clever as Chigurh. Sheriff Tommy Lee Jones who tries to protect him is too late to the scene, but has a lot of good lines. The best one:
He died of natural causes. . . natural to his profession.
This action-packed movie is kind of like an old Western, only it’s set in the Wild South of 1980 near the Texas-Mexican border with all of its drug-smuggling and associated killing. And it’s more exciting. Very entertaining, a great movie, and definitely not for kids. Again, it’s very violent and bloody. And we even see the psychotic murderer Chigurh performing self-surgery.
* “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium“: Hmmm . . . An eccentric man who dresses in sartorial splendor and heads a business in a kid-centric industry decides it’s time to go, so he decides to turn it all over to someone younger who embodies the qualities that he thinks are best. No, it’s not “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” It’s a far inferior rip-off with far superior special effects and a very dull storyline.
Instead of Wonka (Gene Wilder) and a candy factory, in this one we get Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) and his Wonder Emporium–kind of like the FAO Schwartz toy store, only with magical toys and mobiles featuring real, live fish. And books that come to life. Where Wonka was smart and enigmatic, Magorium has a lisp and is just not as scintillating. Instead of dwarf Oompa Loompas, Magorium has Bellini, the giant, muscular, bald bookmaker, who lives in the basement.
Where “Wonka” showed us many different kinds of kids who embodied various sins and gluttony, this one only has one kid–a good kid with no friends and a great collection of hats. But he’s the same kid as Wonka’s Charlie Bucket. Both are fatherless and both are decent kids, awestruck by the wonderment around them. And unlike Charlie, he doesn’t inherit the toy store. Instead, it goes to Mr. Magorium’s assistant and store manager, Molly Mahony, a frustrated classical pianist. She doesn’t want Magorium to go, but he says it’s time. He’s helped in his quest to leave, by hiring an accountant (Jason Bateman).
Does the magic reside with Mr. Magorium, or in all of us? Instead of “Wonka’s” morals of honesty and integrity, that’s the amorphous question/message in this film.
Good for kids and fascinating special effects. But like I said, it’s a cheap copy of “Wonka” with more expensive special effects, and not nearly as good. Rent that for your kids.
* “Love in the Time of Cholera“: More like, “I’d Love to Die of Cholera Instead of Wasting Time Seeing This Movie.” It’s hardly surprising this extremely awful movie is being touted by Oprah as a recent Oprah book club selection. It’s simplly awful. And way too long and boring.
The cliched story: A poor, illegitimate poet (Javier Barden) falls in love with a rich girl who is then married off to someone else, while he pines for her. You’ve seen it onscreen so many times, but never quite and horridly done as in this one.
The difference: This one features the main male character crying repeatedly over a woman who dumped him, has a female-on-male rape scene, and consists such scintillating and touching dialogue as this, uttered by a woman during a sex scene:
I’ve never been able to understand how your thing works. . . . Besides, I think it has too many bits,
My heart has more room than a whorehouse,
I’ll be damned. You screw just like your father,
uttered by the uncle of the main character when he walks in on his nephew en flagrante delicto.
The setting is late 1800s and early 1900s Colombia, and even though his love is married off to someone else, he pledges eternal fidelity to her. But, one day, he is raped by a woman on a boat and starts sleeping with hundreds of women (almost as many as the NBA star who died) and writing about them. Sorry, though, guys. This really isn’t your kind of movie, it’s bad Lifetime Network fare, mixed with a lot of toplessness and semi-porn, done Oprah style.
It’s got histrionics and overwrought melodrama ad nauseam, non-stop talking by women in sex scenes with the man’s mother (who resembles the school headmaster, Mrs. Garrett, from “The Facts of Life”) listening through the walls, a sex scene complete with a fart or snort (I couldn’t tell which or care less). Oh, and there’s that scene when the poet finally gets the girl–and they are in their seventies. We get to see, saggy naked old people (including a topless woman) having sex. Eeuuww. Please, make it stop.
Only good thing about this movie–besides that it ended–is one line:
I am not rich. I am a poor man with money, which is not the same thing.
Again, don’t forget: this is an Oprah book club selection. Figures. It stinks. Watching this is torture.
Tags: 3-D, accountant, Antoine Chigurh, assistant and store manager, Bellini, Beowulf, Blade Runner, CGI, Charlie Bucket, Chocolate Factory, Cholera, Colombia, Debbie Schlussel, Dustin Hoffman, FAO Schwartz toy store, frustrated classical pianist, Gene Wilder, illegitimate poet, Jason Bateman, Javier Bardem, Javier Barden, Josh Brolin, Love in the Time of Cholera, Magorium, Molly Mahony, Mr. Magorium's assistant and store manager, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, National Basketball Association, No Country for Old Men, poet, poor, school headmaster, sheriff, surgery, Texas, Texas-Mexican border, Tommy Lee Jones, Tommy Lee Jones Flick, USD, Wonder Emporium