June 15, 2013, - 11:12 pm
Wknd Box Office: Man of Steel, This is the End, The East, Before Midnight, Fill the Void [LeMale et Ha'Halal], Love is All You Need
There were so many new movies at the box office, this weekend, on which I had to write reviews, that I did not get it done before the Jewish Sabbath began. So here’s my complete set of reviews:
* “This is the End“: The good news about this movie is that half of Hollywood dies toward the very beginning. The bad news is that that part isn’t true in real life. Otherwise, this is yet another raunchy, disgusting, rarely funny offering aimed at teen and twenty-something slacker guys. If your idea of showing a guy urinating all over a toilet seat up close is funny, then this is for you. Ditto if you enjoy dumb, unfunny jokes about a guy ejaculating all over an old Playboy magazine or a scene of another guy getting oral sex. Classy. The movie also looks like a bunch of 30-something Hollywood stars wanted to make a quick buck and hang out at the same time, so they made it into a movie.
The story: a bunch of celebrities play themselves and attend a party at James Franco’s new, garish modern home in the Hollywood Hills. The story initially focuses on Jay Baruchel who came to Los Angeles to visit and stay with his fellow Canadian actor, Seth Rogen. But Baruchel is kind of a misanthrope. He hates hanging out with people, especially Hollywood people, hates L.A., and is suspicious of the motives of actors who claim to like him, such as Jonah Hill. But, despite his objections, Rogen drags him to Franco’s party, which is chock full of stars, including Rihanna, Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, and others. Soon, however, there are mysterious attacks on Hollywood earth, and it appears aliens have struck or that there is a giant earthquake. Baruchel and Rogen are the first to discover this because they went on a run to a convenience store. When they return to the party, no one believes them, until the ground starts caving in, in front of Franco’s house. Many of the celebrities and other guests at the party fall to their deaths in a giant black hole. The few remaining stars hole up in Franco’s house, including Rogen, Baruchel, Hill, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson, trying to survive what eventually turns out to be the apocalypse, while they fight amongst themselves.
A few–very few–parts of this are funny. Mostly it isn’t. Even among raunchy, disgusting movies featuring big and semi-big stars, this was the least funny I can remember in some time. And, like I said, it was mostly just gross. It’s definitely not boring, but that’s the best I can say for it. It’s filthy crap. I liked the idea of the apocalypse and how childish and idiotic Hollywood stars act when it comes. But the movie collapses under unnecessary raunch, idiocy, and a flat-out mess.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “The East“: I had mixed feelings about this movie. On the one hand, it’s a terrific thriller, very interesting, and not anything you’ve ever seen before. And, even though it’s fiction, it has great insight into the far left, the Occupy Wall Street crowd, and the world of anti-business terrorists. It gets them down pat, down to the fact that many are the spoiled rotten, privileged kids of the wealthy. On the other hand, I felt it put too many ideas into the heads of those who want to attack businesses and perpetrate acts of terrorism upon them. And, worst of all, this movie seems to ultimately–at least in part–take the terrorists’ side, by showing the targets of the terrorist attacks to be evil corporate villains who poison and pollute America. Yes, the typical far-left view of business. But I think the movie also shows that the terrorists go too far, and, in the end, the protagonist of the movie–while for a time becoming sympathetic to them–doesn’t like what they do and realizes that they actually do real harm and are dangerous.
The storyline: a devout Christian (Brit Marling) former FBI agent is hired by a company that does counter-espionage against terrorists who attack large corporations. She is sent out into the field to infiltrate a terrorist group, “The East,” which poisons CEOs and does other terrorist attacks on corporations and their executives. Some of the group are scions of wealthy families and corporate CEOs. They get jobs as waiters at parties for top drug company execs and poison their drinks with deadly medicine produced by the company. They kidnap a Corporate CEO and one of his top execs and make them strip and go into polluted water. They are monsters and far worse than any of the allegedly wrongful business execs they attack. They are also “Freegans,” eating out of dumpsters, while they live in a boarded up home on the land of their leader, Alexander Skarsgard. As I said, the movie has these leftist freaks down pat, down to their various indoctrination techniques and cultish commune style living, complete with free love, community baths in a lake, in which they wash each other nude, and so on. It’s weird, but that’s how they are. Heck, that’s how they are in their tents in New York at their Occupy crap.
The movie is co-written by its star, a fantastic actress, Marling, whose praises I’ve sung before on this site. All of her movie projects are interesting and new, and several of them are great. And she writes and stars in most of them, always with keen, nuanced performances.
While I didn’t like all the messages, it’s an interesting and entertaining movie, if you know that these terrorists are the enemy, and I think everyone reading this site and this review knows that.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Before Midnight“: This is the third installment in a series, beginning with 1995’s “Before Sunrise,” then following up with 2004’s “Before Sunset.” You don’t necessarily need to see the other two to figure out this movie, but it’s a good idea.
The first movie is the story of an American guy, Jesse (Ethan Hawke), and a French chick, Celine (Julie Delpy), both in their 20s, who meet and fall in love on a train running through Europe. They promise to meet again in ten years, but when that doesn’t happen, you get to the story of the second movie, in which he is a successful author who has written about the experience in his novel and she shows up to his book signing in France. He’s married, and they sleep together, with him missing his return back to America. This third (and, supposedly AND hopefully, final) installment finds Jesse and Celine married with very cute, young twin daughters. They are on summer vacation in Greece, where they are staying at a famous author’s home, while Jesse writes his next book.
I mostly hated this movie because it’s the story of every unhappy far-left wife who thinks she’s the Joan of Arc of feminism, and is “enslaved” by her evil husband who wants to work. Except the reality in this marriage, that Celine doesn’t get is that she’s the man in the relationship, and is lucky that henpecked, unappreciated Jesse remains. He wants to move the family back to his native Chicago, so that he can be with his son from his first marriage and be in his life as he becomes a teen and comes of age. But Celine wants to take a left-wing activist job in France, where they live. There is a ton of arguing and fighting, and who needs to go to the movies to see that. On the other hand, her feminist shrieking and ranting come off as absurd (because they are), and Jesse’s responses in their arguing are hilarious and I laughed repeatedly. You feel for this guy who gave up his American life for this annoying, far-left shrew. At least I did, though I don’t think it’s what the filmmakers intended.
I could have done without this movie and stuck with the far more charming first two installments. This was like the nightmare of reality. And who needs reality when you go to the movies? You want escapism. Instead, you have the constantly whining Delpy, who is now somewhat overweight, not that attractive, and spends half the movie in an ill-fitting dress that is too tight on her. Then, in one of the fighting scenes, she is topless with her droopy mosquito bite breasts. Yuck. Didn’t need to see them . . . or to see Hawke kissing them. No thank you.
Ditto for the movie, which is filled with New Age psychobabble of liberal Europeans.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Fill the Void [LeMale et Ha'Halal]“: I’m not sure what the point of this Israeli film was . . . other than to creep people out about Orthodox Jews of the Chassidic variety and make their lives seem totally unhappy and weird. That’s what I got from this boring, awkward, pointless movie. And if I did not know and have Chassidim in my family (my cousin, Yermiah, is the leader of the Belzer Chassidic choir in Jerusalem), this propaganda might be effective, as it has been to so many movie critics who’ve seen it and, unfortunately, decried this life in a way they would never ever decry Muslim life. Most of the Chassidic Jews I know are actually very happy, joyous, and contented people, more so than most other segments of society. But you wouldn’t know it in this cold, sad movie. And if you didn’t get that in spades, the movie adds in a creepy character with no arms who has to have others hold her drinks while she drinks through a straw. Not sure what the armless have to do with Chassidic Judaism (as handicaps such as this afflict all walks of life no matter the religion or ethnicity), but they put it in, anyway. You can always count on secular Israelis to make the most anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel films imaginable. No wonder this won awards at so many Western film festivals, including Sundance.
In Hebrew with English subtitles, the movie is the story of a Tel Aviv-area Chassidic girl (strike one!–most Israeli Chassidic Jews live in Jerusalem), Shira, who desperately wants to get married and is in the process of meeting men for an arranged marriage. Soon, her pregnant sister dies in childbirth, and Shira and her mother take care of the baby. But the father wants to get re-married, and the grandmother is afraid she will lose contact with her grandchild if he marries and moves away, adding to her sorrow from losing her daughter. So, she pressures her daughter, Shira, to marry the man who was her brother-in-law. Through a series of silly machinations and arguments, the wedding eventually happens. The end.
Oh, and did I mention that, aside from being self-hating propaganda, this movie is slow and boring as hell?
FOUR MARXES PLUS FOUR BIN LADENS
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Love is All You Need“: This movie was not bad, but I could have done without all the fighting and melodrama. The suave and debonaire Pierce Brosnan plays a cantankerous, wealthy fruit magnate and widower who is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. (The movie is half in English and half in Danish with English subtitles.) His son is marrying the daughter of Ida (the charming Trine Dyrholm), a Danish hairdresser, who has just survived breast cancer and lost all of her hair. She catches her loutish slob of a husband cheating on her, just before she flies to the coast of Italy for the wedding at Brosnan’s seaside estate. At the airport, Ida has a car accident with Brosnan in the parking lot, and they discover they are soon to become in-laws. Eventually, they fall in love, amidst much turmoil and drama at the Italian estate. It’s definitely an entertaining, relaxing movie, but for the drama and weird, side gay tangent. I didn’t need to see two guys making out. Otherwise, I enjoyed it. It’s a cute love story, and the acting of the main players is pretty good, as is the chemistry between the romantic leads. The scenery is beautiful, too.
This is a chick flick, but it’s a decent one.
Watch the trailer . . .
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