June 21, 2013, - 6:20 pm
Weekend Box Office: The Bling Ring, World War Z (Which Has Israeli Soldier Hero), Much Ado About Nothing
I liked all the new movies at the box office this weekend. Two were decent. One was absolutely fabulous. (I did not see Monsters University. Sorry.)
* “The Bling Ring“: I expected to hate this movie, based on the real-life story of a group of Los Angeles-area teens who rob the homes of their favorite celebrities. But I really liked it, as an excellent portrait of today’s fame-obsessed, airheaded, Valley Girl-esque youth, who feel they are entitled to the good life without working for it, that they can just steal it. It was also a great insight into the clueless, vapid parents littered all over America. The movie was funny, entertaining, fast-paced, and didn’t leave you bored for a second. It’s also a great statement on today’s celebrities, who didn’t actually do anything substantive to earn their fame, for the most part. Paris Hilton, whose real-life, gaudy brothel-esque home was used in the filming of this movie, makes a cameo, and she’s Exhibit A (she’s famous for making a porno tape and little else).
A fashion conscious glamor girl from Calabasas, California befriends the new guy at high school, and they start breaking into homes of rich kids they know are out of town, stealing glamorous fashion items and jewelry (bling) from the homes. Soon, the two and the rest of their friends are breaking into various celebrities’ homes when they learn online that the celebs are out of town. They steal the celebrities’ expensive designer clothes, shoes, purses, and other items (including a gun), and they’re brazen about it, including on social media. (The celebrities include Hilton, Rachel Bilson, Lindsay Lohan, and others of that age group.)
It’s based on a Vanity Fair article of the same name, and much of the dialogue comes word-for-word from the real-life statements of the actual kids involved in the Bling Ring. Although I support those who choose to home school their kids, incredibly hilarious in this movie is the absurd “home schooling” by one of the moms, who belongs to the “Church” of “The Secret” (yes, the self-help book) and “teaches” her kids a “curriculum” based on “The Secret” during a school day that lasts about two minutes using an aspirational poster board featuring various pictures of Angelina Jolie. Yup, that’s the ticket!
There are two holes in the movie: 1) none of these celebrities seemed to have alarms that worked very well or very fast; and 2) some of them lived in gated communities (I believe Hilton does), and they didn’t show how the “Bling Ring” got around that, (perhaps they didn’t show that for real-life security reasons).
This isn’t a classic movie that you’d want to see over and over again. But it’s fun, very entertaining, and just an excellent insight and observation on America’s future, er . . . future decline. Sofia Coppola really does a great job directing. I loved the way the movie was shot, liked the soundtrack–which was very appropriate to the mindless idiots who populate the movie, etc. Except for Emma Watson (of “Harry Potter” fame), the actors in this movie are all unknowns, but that will probably change. They’re all very good.
In addition to being great social commentary, it’s part comedy, part true crime thriller. There’s something in it for everyone. And at 90 minutes, it’s short and sweet. If you’re wondering why it’s rated “R,” it probably has to do with the fact that there are a lot of scenes of these kids doing heavy drugs–snorting cocaine, etc.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “World War Z“: Some critics are panning this, but in my book it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t even great as zombie movies go, or even original. But it was entertaining and enjoyable, fast-paced and workmanlike. And an Israeli (female) soldier (Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz) is one of the heroes of the movie, something you’ll almost never see from Hollywood circa 2013.
Unfortunately, a United Nations employee (Brad Pitt) is the main hero of the movie, as if that would ever happen in real life. I saw this movie with a friend who was a guard at Gitmo, and as he said about the UN being the savior, “Well, there’s a first time for everything.” Yup, and with the U.N. that first–and last–time is strictly in the movies.
If there was anything else objectionable, it’s a plot line in which the Israelis discover that zombies are about to take over the world, and they don’t tell anyone, building instead a wall around Israel to keep them out. Was this supposed to be symbolic of the fence to keep out the Islamic terrorist Palestinians? Was it some sort of reminder of false and poisonous Muslim world rumors that continue to circulate, alleging that Jews and Israel knew about 9/11 ahead of time . . . and may have been behind it? Another thing: the Israelis do allow Palestinian Muslims galore into the country to evade the zombies because “every person we save is one less we have to shoot.” Was this some sort of message? And, finally, the Israelis ultimately can’t keep the zombies out because they only have one helicopter monitoring the wall. As if the Israelis would be that inept. Um, that’s American border “security,” not Israeli border security, which is far more vigilant and well-staffed/equipped.
The story: a plague of zombies breaks out as Brad Pitt and family are trapped on the streets of Philadelphia. They escape, using Pitt’s skills as a former secret agent/investigator type for the U.N. And they’re saved by the Deputy Secretary General of the U.N. to live on an aircraft carrier, so long as Pitt agrees to go into the field and find out how the zombie virus started and how to fix it. He flies to a U.S. military base in South Korea, where some great U.S. soldiers save him and teach him a lot about what makes the zombies tick and how to evade them. He also meets a shady CIA operative prisoner, who tells him to go to Israel. That’s the next trip. There Pitt notices something unusual about those whom the zombies avoid. And he meets a heroic female Israeli soldier, who saves his life more than once. Then, it’s off to a World Health Organization base in Wales. Throughout all this, there are scary, harrowing close calls with rabid zombies, and it’s kind of repetitive.
I’m no Brad Pitt fan, but I didn’t hold that against this movie. Overall, the movie was fine. But it’s nothing you haven’t seen before, and nothing that spectacular. Like I said, it was fast paced, full of action, and definitely entertaining throughout.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Much Ado About Nothing“: This is director Joss Whedon’s version of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” and was shot over 12 days at Whedon’s house. It’s billed as a “modern re-telling,” but that’s misleading because the only things modern here are the clothing, time period, and accoutrements. It’s entirely black and white and features the original Shakespearean English dialogue. And that makes it slightly difficult to follow, especially at first because it’s hard to tell who is who. But you eventually figure out what’s going on, and it’s an interesting take on a classic play.
Watch the trailer . . .
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