June 24, 2015

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
This movie is a Lifetime made-for-TV mini-series, but, it is available now on DVD, and it is well worth a watch. The movie follows the life and career of Marilyn Monroe, the most important sex-symbol of the 20th century. From her harrowing childhood, being shuttled from one foster home to the next, the movie looks at her various marriages, her fights with studio bosses, and her determination to be taken seriously as an actress. However, the central focus of the movie is an examination of Marilyn’s insecurities. Her struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, and, her fear of the insanity that was hereditary in her family. Having been made for television, the movie plods along at television’s snail-like pace, but, the reconstructions of the period, and, the recreations of some famous scenes from Marilyn’s more popular movies, are all terrific. Kelli Garner plays Marilyn, and her performance is just fantastic. There are several moments when you would swear that you were watching the real Marilyn, or, a version of a Marilyn that we would all like her to be.

5 flights up
Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton star in this delightful situation-comedy. Morgan and Diane play a happily married couple, who have lived in the same Brooklyn apartment, 5 flights up, for 40 years. Still, with their ‘golden years’ approaching, they decide to put their apartment on the market and try to find something more convenient, possibly with an elevator. The movie is an entertaining look at the pitfalls of buying and selling real-estate in New York. Director Richard Loncraine infuses his comedy with a lot of charm.

Return to Sender
After a nurse is raped, she sets about gaining revenge in a most peculiar way. What is intriguing about this movie is the way in which director Fouad Mikati has created it. A lot of attention has been paid to camera framing and composition. Set decoration is meticulous. Lighting and sound is sumptuous. In fact, the movie is highly glamorous and glossy. This goes completely against the grain of the very gritty subject-matter, and creates a strange but compelling atmosphere. Rosamund Pike also gives a complex performance, as she slowly reveals the real psychopath hidden within her nurse character.

The Living
When a woman is savagely beaten up by her husband, her brother sets out to find a contract-killer to murder his brother-in-law. The man he finds is pretty weird, but, he guarantees that he will do the job. That’s about it for the plot. But, Jack Bryan makes a very cold and calculating movie which makes for fascinating viewing. There is a realism about the movie which is disturbing.

The Age of Adaline
In the 1920s, after an accident involving a motorcar, a river, and a bolt of lightning, an American woman remains forever young and lovely. To avoid becoming a medical curiosity, every ten years or so the woman changes her identity and moves on. Just when she is about to make another move, the woman meets an appealing millionaire. She allows herself to fall in love. Their romance is to bring all sorts of complications into her life. This story is a bit hard to take seriously, and, the movie is over-sentimental and sugary. Blake Lively shows a lot of poise but I wouldn’t call her a ravishing beauty.

Big Game*
As the President of the United States, Samuel L. Jackson stars in what must be the biggest mainstream ‘flop’ of the year. An insane Arabian prince is a big game hunter, and, he wants to bag the biggest game of them all – the President of the United States. The prince arranges for Air Force One to be brought down by a missile, leaving the president lost in a Finland forest. The prince then proceeds to hunt the president down. Meanwhile, a Finnish lad, who is going through some sort of coming-of-age Finnish hunting ritual, comes to the president’s aid. The movie is really ridiculous. Obviously, the producers thought so too. The movie has been cut to its bare essentials, and doesn’t hang together all that well. The abrupt ‘surprise’ ending leaves a lot to be desired, and, you are left wondering what in the hell it was all about!

Laugh Killer Laugh
A hit-man, who works for a New York mobster, decides to take a course in creative-writing. As his subject-matter, he writes about his own underworld exploits. Naturally enough, the mobster becomes a little bit disturbed when he learns about the literary efforts. A contract is put out on the hit-man, who has to kill the mobster before he himself is killed. I am not sure if this movie is meant to be a drama or a comedy. Its intentions are not clear. A lot of it is funny, in a ‘sick’ kind of way, but, I am pretty certain that was unintentional.

Okay, to begin with: Al Pacino directs and stars in a the production of Oscar Wilde’s little stage masterpiece ‘Salome’. Pacino’s production and performance is stilted and boring beyond belief. To make matters worse, he then makes a movie documentary which, if possible, is even more atrocious. The documentary is filmed with a fixed-camera, aimed at the stage, which then occasionally zooms in for a close-up. The movie is very bad. Al Pacino does an injustice to Oscar Wilde’s decadent piece of Victorian debauchery.

* Also available on Blu Ray.
# Also available in 3D.

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