Movie Reviews (2011)

The Descendants Rated R. Fox Searchlight Pictures. Nov. 23
This Alexander Payne film (he also directed Sideways, About Schmidt, and Election) is the only film that I have seen, and thus far it rates my vote for Best Picture. George Clooney plays a land baron in Hawaii, head of a large group of descendants of a Hawaiian princess and a Caucasian. While coping with the alienation of his two daughters and his comatose wife in the hospital, he must decide whether to sell the family legacy of the pristine land. coveted by developers. Warm and tender, with Clooney turning in a truly Oscar-worthy performance of a conflicted man of principle.

The Muppets Rated PG. Walt Disney Studios Nov 23
It will be fun to see the reunion of Jim Henson’s old gang. I loved the original film with its road theme, during which Kermit and Fozzie Bear, hearing loud music blaring forth from a church, looked inside and saw Dr. Teeth’s band with Floyd, Janice, and drummer Animal” playing wildly. Fozzie says, “They don’t look like Presbyterians to me.” When the Muppets Theater is threatened with destruction because an oil baron wants to obtain the oil beneath it, 3 fans (two played by Amy Adams and Jason Seigel—the latter wrote the script) set out to round up the Muppets to raise the funds via a telethon to save the place.

Hugo Rated PG Sony Pictures Nov 23
Martin Scorcese, best known for such adult fare as Taxi Driver, directs this film based on Brian Selznick’s juvenile book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, so it will be interesting to see how he fares with a new (for him) genre. Set in Paris of the 1930s, it involves a 12 year-old orphaned boy who lives in the walls of a train station.

The Iron Lady Rated PG.
Meryl Streep makes even a mediocre movie into an enjoyable experience, so I would look forward to this film even were it not about one of the most extraordinary women of recent British history, Margaret Thatcher. Regardless of what we might think about her politics, “The Iron Lady,” as she became to be known as, rose to the top of the British political system, no doubt bucking the old boys club all the way. The film’s added attraction is the always-watchable Jim Broadbent as Denis, Prime Minister Thatcher’s husband.

My Week With Marilyn Rated PG. The Weinstein Company. Nov. 23
The storyline for this film is: Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier’s, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl. The big interest will be how well Michelle Williams plays this icon of sexuality. Judging by the trailer, she does quite well—and has the great support of Emma Watson, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branaugh and Julia Ormond, the latter two as Sir Lawrence Olivia and Vivian Leigh. Wow!

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Rated R. Focus Features Dec. 9
Forget the silly James Bond fantasies! When it comes to authentic spy thrillers it is the likes of John le Carré’s who deliver the real goods. The buzz is that Gary Oldman’s portrayal of the unheroic agent George Smiley is sure to lead to a nomination for Oscar’s Best Actor award. When things go terribly wrong for Control, Smiley is brought out of retirement to track down a Soviet mole in M16, the British intelligance agency. Interestingly Oldman had a supporting part in the 1979 BBC series, in which Alec Guiness played George Smiley.

The Adventures of Tintin Rated PG. Columbia Pictures. Dec. 21
Just seeing the name Steven Spielberg listed as director makes me eager to see the film—and there is also Peter Jackson. Based on a Belgian comic book, of which Spielberg was a fan, this is a fantasy involving a boy, a model ship, and a voyage to North Africa where 300 years earlier a sea captain had hidden a treasure cargo.

In The Land of Blood and Honey Rated R Film District. Dec, 23
I am rooting for this film because of my admiration for the social activism of Oscar winning actress Angelina Jolie, who debuts as a feature film director. Also author of the script, her story is about Serbian soldier Danijel and Ajla, a woman he had once been attracted to, but because she is Bosnian is a captive in the prison camp that he oversees. Sounds like an interesting take on the old Romeo and Juliet plot.

War Horse PG-13 DreamWorks. Dec. 25
Wow, a second Stephen Spielberg film, this time based on a children’s book and play of the same name. A father impulsively buys a horse unsuited for work on his farm, but his son falls in love with it. When it has to be sold the boy vows to reunite with it, despite the horse becoming a part of a British Army cavalry unite sent to the battlefields of France during WW 1. Judging by the trailer, this will be an exciting adventure filled with warm moments.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Rated PG. Warner Bros. Dec. 25
Although the cast includes Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, enough in itself to recommend this film, the young actor Thomas Horn is the center of this mystery/adventure involving a 9 year-old inventor. Also included in the cast are John Goodman, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, James Gandolfini, and Jeffrey Wright. And if that is not enough to make this a must see film, there is Stephen Daldry, who also directed The Hours, The Reader, and Billy Elliot