Alert: these "oranges' instead of being beneficial are a detriment to one's health. Skip this supercilious, embarrassing diatribe about a failed marriage, doomed affair; worst flaw: painfully uninteresting people; barely a nutrient worth imbibing, a calorie- less, bland, boring one hour and thirty two minutes!
Hugh Laurie, the paradigm of brilliant, caustic wit in the seven- year -role of Doctor "House" is totally unremarkable as a man whose marriage is in hospice; commences a relationship with his best friend's (Oliver Platt) brainless, unaccountable daughter (Leighton Meester); the plot yawningly sinks into a morass of lackluster, lamentable drudgery. I will take the limping, scruffy, curmudgeon "House" in a nanosecond over this clean-shaven, cane- less, vanilla "David".
The movie is saved from zero stars by Alia Shawkat. As "Vanessa" the smart, primarily ignored daughter of (Laurie and Catherine Keener); her succinct, crisp observations of this dysfunctional family, gift her a level of integrity, far superior to her vapid, empty counterparts.
"Oranges" does zilch for tourism in New Jersey; these characters are ubiquitous, sprinkled in cities, towns, villages throughout the universe; totally unworthy of "screen time".
ONE & 1/2 STARS! (OUT OF 5)
Viola Davis. Robbed of last year's Academy Award for best actress, is reason enough to see this highly manipulative film about two women who fight the entrenched bureaucracy of the teachers union in Baltimore. The film is fraught with fallacies, and living in a city where the teachers went on strike for a week and a half this past September, the wounds, no longer oozing, have yet to scar. Nevertheless, it was entertaining, heartwarming predictability.
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays "Jamie Fitzpatrick" a beleaguered, single mother, working two minimal-wage jobs to support her eight-year-old dyslexic daughter "Malia" (Emily Alyn Lind); the school is an abomination, failing on every level; heartless, uncaring teachers, whose dreams were slaughtered on the pyre of tenure and unworthy pupils. The exception being "Nona Alberts" (Davis) who is still harboring a dim vision of improving, inspiring the intransigent uninspired, motivationally bereft student.
Jamie and Nona join forces, command a blitzkrieg of a revolt; fighting to take over the doomed "Adams" (named for John Adams the second President of the United States) elementary school; felling one vicissitude after another, refusing to "back down", they infuse their roles with enough legitimacy, rallying the audience to tear and cheer their failures and conquests. Davis is luminously stunning; Gyllenhall, a masterful second.
"Won't Back Down" whether intentional or not, is reminiscent of real-life Gloria Romero (b.1955) a former California State Senator and Democratic majority leader; the first woman to hold that position; she stepped down to become chair of the Education Committee, championing, after heated debates, the "parent trigger law" which allows a majority of parents, in a failing school, to vote on a method to restructure the school. Defining, once again the "power of one" to supersede the many.
"Won't Back Down" is melodramatic, at times erroneous, sensational, pushing the gamut of emotional buttons; in this instance, buttons that did mind the pressure.
What is it about time travel that is so hypnotic, magnetic, romantic? The possibility of rectifying past errors? Reclaiming the "one who got away"? Or just the supernatural, infallible power of "knowing", and possibly "altering" destiny?
Time travel has been a pervasive genre, informing contemporary film and literature: "Time After Time", "Terminator", "Donnie Darko", "Groundhog Day" (crippling, anesthetizing redundancy), "Back to the Future"; Audrey Niffenegger's "The Time Traveler's Wife" (also a movie) and most recently Robert Koppel's "The Next Step: A Gobsmacking Odyssey of Reinvention", tempting, teasing versions of mind and body tackling and overcoming matter.
Many owe a debt to Chris Marker (1921-2012) an iconic French writer and filmmaker, forerunner in imagining the unimaginable; "La Jette" (The Pier, 1962) is a 28 minute black and white film, comprised of stills, ending with the protagonist visioning his demise; this brilliant film inspired Terry Gilliam's 1995, "12 Monkeys" and was a monumental influence on Rian Johnson's "Loopers".
"Loopers" should appeal to a wide audience, even those who are not science-fiction aficionados; erudite, fascinating, riveting, a mind-bending, enthralling experience. "Joe" played simultaneously by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis ("Old Joe"). The year is 2044 and the world is controlled by organized crime; time travel is invented in 2074; those who the "Boss" (Jeff Daniels, gives a creepy, malevolent performance as "Abe") wants eliminated, are sent back from the future to be slaughtered and incinerated by "loopers". Young Joe must complete his loop by killing his older self.
"Loopers" soars with scintillating performances by Gordon-Levitt and Willis. Because of the dazzling craftsmanship of the makeup artists, Gordon-Levitt is miraculously transformed into a young Bruce Willis; his superb capturing of every nuance, grimace, strut, erases any question that the young and older man are one in the same. Bruce Willis chisels another notch on his scale of memorable movie moments.
Emily Blunt gives a solid depiction of a tough, savvy, farm girl, "Sara", the mother of "Cid" (an assiduously astounding performance by five-year-old Pierce Gagnon)!
"Loopers" will trigger a myriad of "movie conversations", but more than anything it bounces from the past to present with roller-coaster, exhilarating ease, culminating in an intriguing, questioning conclusion. "Loopers" has cemented a firm position in the rarefied, archival echelons of time travel flicks.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are partners, patrolling the crime-infested neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Terrific acting combined with the intimacy of the hand-held camera lends pivotal and realistic credence to a world that exists, but one we shun and pray never graces our doorstep. For those with sensitivities the "F" word replaces "Like" as part of the vernacular.
Whether an expert or a neophyte, lover or neutral on the sport of baseball "Trouble with the Curve" has no trouble pleasing all audiences. Clint Eastwood, the constant curmudgeon, once again hits it out of the ball park.
Eastwood's "Gus" is an ageing, almost sightless scout for the Atlanta Braves; unlike his vision his instincts for the trade are 20/20; but he is competing with the "Moneyball" generation and refuses to cave to technology and accept obsolescence; he has to witness, listen, and go with his finely tuned, archival "gut", in the scouting process; no man or machine can best him.
His boss and friend "Pete"(a seasoned, sensitive performance by John Goodman) recognizes his vicissitudes and enlists the aid of Gus's daughter "Mickey" (terrific, feisty depiction by Amy Adams) nurtured by the game, shunned by her father after her mother's death; a lawyer on the fast-track but knows and loves baseball and matches her father in fiery grit; the movie sizzles with their raunchy repartee; she surprises him in Ashville, N.C. on a scouting excursion, resulting in a volatile, heart-warming, heart-breaking, illuminating experience for both.
Justin Timberlake is "Jonny" an ex-baseball phenom now a scout for the Red Sox; a favorite of Gus's who is instantly attracted to "Mickey" the wiz kid of sports trivia; shades of "Diner" but the roles are reserved; she is the master/ mistress of the game.
In the twenty-first century computers, statistics, are intrinsic, an ingredient in the contemporary world, regardless of the field; but nothing can replace the personal, visual, hands on, face-to-face encounter; how else to determine the manner a player clutches the bat? Traditionalists will be pleased to see a film where the digital succumbs to man's judgment. Forecasting a marriage of both forces; maybe not equal but beneficial to all parties and more importantly, the game.
Yes, "Trouble with the Curve" is predictable; but predictability can be comforting, like turkey on Thanksgiving, that warm, stuffed highly anticipated elation, coming once a year; in an era of unpredictability, nothing is as satisfying, soothing as a prime, predictable film.