Capsule reviews

We’ve been watching movies pretty regularly on the weekends again, and I’ve gotten behind! I sort of wanted to write a full review of a couple of these, but brief seemed the way to go.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Much like any play-turned-film, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a towering monument of serious Acting. From the very first line to the very last, it just doesn’t let up, and the result is awesome. Tennessee Williams’ story of the dysfunctional Pollitt family actually translates pretty well to the screen, and is more creatively staged than a lot of similar projects. Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman remind us all that they are definitely more than just pretty faces (and boy, what faces), and I had no idea that Burl Ives was a serious actor, but he is absolutely phenomenal as Big Daddy. I promised my husband that this would be better than A Streetcar Named Desire, and it definitely delivered. Fans of the stage play may be a little put off by a certain amount of “Hollywoodization” (less ambiguity, slightly happier ending), but this is still a classic worth watching. If nothing else, you can just sit there and marvel at the absolute gorgeousness of Taylor and Newman. They are at the top of their game here.

The Player (1992)
Oh, Robert Altman. Sometimes you’re just so weird. The extremely meta nature of The Player seems to me to indicate vintage Altman. Tim Robbins plays a Hollywood executive who’s being stalked by a disgruntled writer whose story idea he rejected. Suddenly, he finds himself in the midst of a murder investigation, some power struggles and turnovers within his company, and a budding romance with the murder victim’s girlfriend. Hilarity ensues? There are definitely plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but most of the laughter is of the “no wait, seriously?” variety. The fun part is that everyone is in this movie. Half of them are “playing themselves,” since this is a satiric look at the industry, but that’s ok. The late 80s/early 90s fashions are also fun to look at. I didn’t love the sub-plot involving Whoopie Goldberg and Lyle Lovett (it tried to be funny and was mostly just bizarre), but beyond that, this is a pretty solid, if weird, movie.

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
This “rom-com for grown-ups” boasts a really strong cast, and a mostly enjoyable (if rather unrealistic at points) storyline. Cal (Steve Carell)’s wife Emily (Julianne Moore) admits to an affair and asks him for a divorce, and so he turns into a sad-sack haunting the local bar until ladies’ man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) decides to teach him how to get his manhood back. In the meantime, Cal’s son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is in love with the baby sitter (Analeigh Tipton) who’s got her own crush, and Jacob himself is intrigued by the fiery redhead (Emma Stone, natch) who doesn’t fall for his lines. All of these different strands get tangled together in some interesting and mostly hilarious ways, and maybe the best thing about the movie is that it doesn’t neatly tie them all off at the end. Life and love are uncertain, and Crazy, Stupid, Love keeps that in mind. Julianne Moore and Emma Stone spot-on here, as always, and Steve Carell generally manages to be charming when he’s not trying so hard to be “funny.” Ryan Gosling and Jonah Bobo are both excellent; probably the best characters in the movie, in my opinion. Great supporting turns by Kevin Bacon as Cal’s competition and Marisa Tomei as a slightly crazy lady he takes home from the bar really add to the solid acting chops of the whole ensemble. The story gets a little bogged down toward the end, but is ultimately redeemed by the fact that all of the characters are fleshed-out individuals that you feel sympathetic toward, so in the end, it’s a really fun movie.

Up next: Rear Window and Calamity Jane. My mind is slightly boggled by the combination of Doris Day and Howard Keel. What’ve you been watching?


3 responses to “Capsule reviews

  1. I liked The Player quite a bit. I agree with your comment on Goldberg and Lovett. I also loved the long single shot at the opening of the movie…while characters discuss the long single shot that opens Touch of Evil.

    I liked Crazy Stupid Love, but agree that it felt like it was shifting too much one way then too much the other. My biggest problem is that I didn’t like his wife and didn’t understand why he’d want to get back with her. I loved the “big meeting” scene and feel the movie would have been sllightly better if they had actually ended it there.

    Rear Window is fantastic and Calamity Jane is fun.

  2. Oh this is interesting timing Sam, I was just considering to go see ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ play this weekend. I haven’t seen the movie but I definitely will rent that soon. I wasn’t all that interested in seeing Crazy, Stupid Love even though I like Carrell a lot, I might rent it on a slow night. Well I’m still watching a lot of Gregory movies, watched half of The Yearling last night. He really makes ANY movie enjoyable even though I probably won’t be interested in that one had he not been in it.

  3. Oh, very cool. I personally found the stage play to be much more affecting (although I admit my brother was starring in it), so you should definitely check it out! It packs a punch either way.

    I am enjoying your GP obsession … you’re being very thorough! 🙂

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