January 25, 2014, - 9:01 pm
I’ve been sick the last two weeks and am finally getting over it, so forgive me for my tardiness in this week’s movie reviews. You didn’t miss much. “I, Frankenstein” was not screened for critics, usually a distinct sign that the movie stinks. There is one movie I liked out of the two new movies in theaters, this weekend:
* “Gimme Shelter: No, this has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones song of the same name. In fact, the song is nowhere in the movie. Instead it’s a feature film that’s really more like a Lifetime TV movie. Vanessa Hudgens, still trying to break from her Disney/”High School Musical” fame, plays a pregnant teen in a gritty lower class life, and it’s not worth ten dollars-plus and two hours of yours. (She made a better choice with this movie than she did with her turn in a menage-a-trois-with-a-drug-dealer sex scene in the absolutely awful “Spring Breakers”–read my review.) It was a better movie than I expected, and the acting was good. But it’s not a movie I could recommend or that you’d want to go see for enjoyment or entertainment. The movie is supposed to be based on a “true story.”
While you might say the movie is a pro-life movie, and it is touching at moments, I felt it was maudlin and manipulative. And it’s filled with stock villains closely hewed to the typical Hollywood narrative: evil, rich, White parents who want the half Black kid to abort her baby, and so on. And, frankly, I wasn’t quite sure the movie was pro-life as much as it glamorizes teen pregnancy. No, it doesn’t totally glamorize it. But, in the end, it does. If I had a teen daughter, I would not want her to see this. And while it does show what happens to kids when they don’t have a father in their lives, in this movie, the rich White dad is a typical antagonist for Hollywood, which is interesting, since the majority of absentee “fathers” who are just sperm donors in America are Black, not White.
Hudgens plays Apple Bailey, a 16-year-old, the daughter of a skanky, violent, drug addicted single mother (a very manly-looking Rosario Dawson). The mother’s teeth are so hideously yellow, it doesn’t look real (someone in hair and make-up overdid it a little). She decides to run away from her mother and what looks like some kind of low-rent motel where they are living. She runs away to a McMansion in New Jersey in which her birth father (a paunchy, aging Brendan Frasier), a successful Wall Street financial guy, lives with his pretty, petite wife and his cute two kids in a comfortable life. It strains credulity that this well-bred guy would ever be with the skank who gave birth to Apple.
Apple is also a typical, stock, one-dimensional character–a perpetually angry punk with a nasty look, including neck tattoos and face hardware a/k/a “jewelry.” No matter how nice her father tries to be, she gets angry. When it becomes clear that she is pregnant, her father’s wife insists she get an abortion and takes her to an abortion clinic, but Apple runs away and ends up in a hospital after a car accident. A priest, played by the always excellent James Earl Jones (who is the best actor in this movie, by far), convinces Apple not to abort the kid and to move into a home for pregnant single women, run by a Catholic woman (Ann Dowd, who is always terrific), who provides the women–most of them minorities and/or former drug users and criminals–with shelter, education, and childcare. At first, Apple hates it, but soon grows close to the women. It seems to be a big issue to the women whether or not Apple’s baby will be Black (answer: yes).
In the end, Apple and her baby are embraced by her father and stepmother, who invite her to live with them. But, instead of taking advantage of that opportunity and getting a better life for her new baby, she selfishly decides to stay at the shelter. They are her “family” the movie shows us. I almost felt like I was watching a Hillary Clinton campaign commercial with the “it takes a village” BS.
Like I said, the movie–while better than I expected and certainly not boring–was more suited to a TV movie on a chick channel and not a feature film.
I am pro-life, but I prefer movies that encourage teen girls not to have sex and not to get pregnant over those that encourage them to have babies and become teen moms. America would be much better off without teen mothers.
ZERO REAGANS OR MARXES – A WASH
Watch the trailer . . .
* “The Best Offer“: While I enjoyed this caper/thriller/mystery very much, I’m not sure I liked the indefinite, unresolved ending, even though it’s closer to reality than those in neatly resolved movies. If you like thrillers, mysteries, or capers and you also like antiques or watching “Antiques Roadshow,” this movie combines both. It was very cool in that way.
The always fabulous Geoffrey Rush plays Virgil Oldman, a misanthropic, arrogant antiques appraiser and auctioneer. He is very wealthy and at the top of his game. But he’s also very “dainty,” wearing gloves every day to avoid touching the dirty, getting germs, and so on. At the same time, he has a scam going, as he enlists one of his friends (Donald Sutherland) to bid on the best items featuring women’s faces that are up at auction. He convinces the estates of the wealthy that some of these items not worth much when he knows they are worth millions and his friend buys them for him at auction. He has a giant secret room, the walls of which are filled top to bottom with valuable portraits of various women.
One day, Oldman is contacted by a young woman (Sylvia Hoeks) who says her parents have passed on, and she insists he personally come to the mansion to appraise their antiques and so on. But, while the mansion is filled with fabulous stuff, the woman never shows up to their appointments. Soon, he learns that she is a recluse, who lives in a room hidden behind a wall in the mansion and doesn’t veer outside until the home is empty of visitors. Eventually, he glimpses her, falls in love, and manages to get her to come outside. And they are in a romantic relationship. Oldman has received tips in romancing “Claire” from the younger man (Jim Sturgess) who fixes and repairs antiques for him. Oldman has been finding various bits and pieces of what he believes is a famous antique robot in the home, and he gives it to the repairman to assemble.
But would a young beautiful woman like that really fall for an older crotchety guy like that? I smelled a rot and thought something might be up. Yes, they are both misanthropes of sorts and have something in common that way, but I’ve seen too many movies not to wonder if something is up. I can’t tell you more because it would give away the movie.
But let’s just say that my instincts usually prove correct. By the way, this is one of those rare movies that is more exciting and entertaining than its trailer. Usually, it’s the other way around.
Watch the trailer . . .
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