Military atomic testing in the Arctic unleashes an ancient dinosaur from hibernation. A physicist (Paul Hubschmid), the only witness to the monster, can’t get anyone to believe him that it exists. Soon enough, the beast emerges on the East Coast and proceeds to devour a few fishing vessels before stomping most of Manhattan flat to the ground. The physicist partners with an anthropologist (or archaeologist or dinosaurist–I can’t remember) to stop the carnage.
Archive for December, 2011
A lukewarm movie about success and failure in the fashion world, grounded by an absolutely diabolical performance by Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly, the dominatrix editor of fictional Runway magazine.
Anne Hathaway is Andy Sachs, a too-cool-for-school journalist who thinks a job as Priestly’s “second assistant” will catapult her into the glamorous world of magazine editorial. Sachs learns things the hard way, as her frozen-hearted boss makes one unattainable demand after another, the least of which is that her Starbucks coffee be hot, hot, hot.
Hathaway infuses her character with all the whininess she can muster, which becomes tiresome before she, gratefully, stiffens up and tries to beat the editor at her own game. Stanley Tucci, as Runway’s artistic director, brings a delicious whip-crack timing to his dialogue, particularly when he persists in the notion that Sachs is a “size six” (or in fashion parlance, the new eight). And Emily Blunt has an Oscar-worthy supporting role as Miranda’s “first assistant,” a caustic sycophant who sees Andy Sachs as the worst kind of threat: an intelligent one.
[Sorry, but I got behind in my reviews. Here are two quick, unedited, and not entirely well-written commentaries.]
I grew up on the original Clash of the Titans (1981), that great Hollywood epic of bowdlerized mythology, and what fun it was to revisit it after quite a few years. Sure, the effects might not stand up to the times, and Harry Hamlin might have made for a mite-too-handsome Perseus; but the film is full of wonder and excitement, as Perseus races from one end of the planet to the other in an attempt to save the life of Princess Andromeda, who’s set to be sacrificed to the Kraken. Terrific stop-motion effects by the master Ray Harryhausen. Fun cameos by the Stygian Witches, with their single eye between the three of them; Pegasus; and the precious robot owl, Bubo. The battle scene in Medusa’s lair is moderately suspenseful, although I think a bit too scary for younger children. A classic today.
Frustrating film by Mexican director Carlos Reygadas, about a Mennonite farmer who bears the burden of falling in love with another woman, despite the fact that everyone around him–including his wife and father–knows what’s going on.
What could have been a sluggish melodrama becomes a quiet meditation on the guilt of knowing that true love doesn’t always come when expected, or at the most opportune times. Instead of outright hate and resentment, the farmer finds himself surround by people suffering their own silent torment. This is a stunning film to watch, as Reygadas fills his frames with bright, natural light to illuminate the internal struggles of his characters. The cinematography, capturing the harsh desolation of the Mexican landscape, is some of the best I’ve seen. And you’ll find it impossible not to marvel at the five minute opening shot of a sunrise (mimicked in reverse at the end).
George Clooney is very good here as Ryan Bingham, an employee termination specialist, whose solitary life of airplanes and hotel rooms is about to undergo intense scrutiny. A young upstart (a powerful Anna Kendrick) comes along with an idea to save Bingham’s company money: Severance by wi-fi. In danger of being grounded, he takes his protege on the road to show her the “diginity” of face-to-face layoffs. Vera Farmiga gives another strong performance as Bingham’s female alter-ego, a woman as turned on by business suits, hotel bars, and rewards points as he is, and with whom he carries on a cross-country affair.
“Of course she hung up on you! You sounded as though you’ve been smoking your underpants!”
That line comes late in Tommy Wirkola’s schizoid splatter opus, Dead Snow, after a character tries to tell a 911 operator that he and his friends are under siege by a legion of SS walking dead–and in the process of escaping, accidentally set fire to their cabin.
Vegard and his friends–including a girl with dirty dreadlocks and a fat guy with an impossibly hot girlfriend–hole up in a snowbound cabin for a weekend of fun. One night, a drifter conveniently shows up and tells a story about a troop of German soldiers that pilfered gold and silver from villagers in the area during WWII. The loot went missing, and now, the undead soldiers roam the area looking for it. (This, of course, begs the question how someone could own a remote cabin for years and never once come across conspicuous nazi zombies, but never mind that detail.) The drifter is ominous in his warning: Don’t get bitten. For God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t get bitten. No sooner does the drifter leave, than the soldiers appear, popping up from the snow and out of the woods, and chow down on every bit of flesh they can get their mangled hands on.