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Warning you about crappy movies since 2008.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

I went with two seven-year-olds (my nephew, Will, and his friend, Carter) to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid and asked them to serve as guest bloggers.* Let's cut right to the chase with the important stuff. Both boys liked the movie and recommend it. Will calls it "funny," while Carter warns, "It's gross at the end."

Carter further cautions: "It's way different from the book."

As for character development, both Will and Carter give the filmmaker and actors thumbs-up. Carter especially liked the older brother, Roderick, because, "He has 'Loded Diper' [the name of his high school band] painted on his van.'" The little brother is not as likable, according to Carter, because "he's not potty-trained."

Will's favorite parts of the movie involved a cartoon about an acid puddle and another with the punch line, "Zooie, mama!"

Any lessons to be learned? "Don't mess with teenagers," said Carter.

"Never eat a piece of cheese on a basketball court outside," said Will.

"Don't play 'Gladiator' in middle school," said Carter.

Both fellas say: See it.

* The opinions presented here are not necessarily those of The Chronic Critic.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ghost Writer

Having your wife and unborn child murdered by the Manson family could make anyone go a little loco. But, drugging and raping a 13-year-old is more than a little loco. It's illegal. And, if you can't do the time, well then ... you shouldn't do the crime. Unless, of course, you can live out your days in Switzerland.

If you can forget that Roman Polanski is a fugitive from justice, you just may find yourself thinking that Ghost Writer is the first Oscar-caliber movie of 2010. It's as moody and atmospheric as the best Hitchcock thrillers, but the themes at play here have been ripped straight from today's headlines.

Pierce Brosnan plays Adam Lang, a Tony Blairesque ex-prime minister of Great Britain. Like Blair, Lang has a brilliant, well-educated wife, Ruth (Olivia Williams) who is an important behind-the-scenes player in national and international affairs. Lang has been collaborating on his memoirs with a ghost writer who turns up dead on a beach near the PM's secluded Martha's Vineyard home. (Was his drowning accidental? Suicide? Or, something more sinister?)

Ewan McGregor is perfect as the writer hired to finish the dead guy's manuscript. He soon realizes he's in over his head. And, while he's not interested in politics nor is he an investigative reporter, he quickly develops a sense for both.

The austere house is the stateside home to Lang and his wife as well as the former and current ghostwriters. But, it's anything but cozy. The house, straight out of Architectural Digest, becomes almost a character itself. There's tight security, an efficient staff (someone is constantly sweeping the back deck, which, on windswept Martha's Vineyard, is completely futile) and big picture windows from which a menacing sky is always visible.

Those gathering clouds do more than portend a storm. Lang is facing a political storm of his own and perhaps of his own making. He's recently been accused of being a war criminal. The allegations charge that he aided in shuttling suspected terrorists to countries where they could be tortured. They (and the PM) are flown by Hatherton aircraft. (Remind you of Halliburton? It's supposed to.)

Lang's efficient personal assistant (and mistress?) Amelia (Kim Cattrall) does all she can to protect him from the media. Her ice princess act here is so good, you forget that she's best-known for her work in the sub-par Sex and the City.

Everything about Ghost Writer is good. Polanski may be a criminal, but his artistic genius is undeniable.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oscar Eve!

In a perfect world, The Hangover would be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper would be vying for Best Actor honors, director Todd Phillips would be a shoo-in for Best Director and screenwriters Phillips, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore and Jeremy Garelick would get a Lifetime Achievement Award for penning an instant classic.

Alas, it is not a perfect world (and don't even get me started on what all is currently wrong with it), and The Hangover has been inexplicably shut out.

But, those golden statues are going to be handed out tomorrow night, and if I were in charge, here's who the envelope would go to:

Best Picture: An Education, a coming-of-age story where the bookish ingenue learns tough lessons in life and love.
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, who is better as a hard-drinking, has-been musician than the material in Crazy Heart deserves.
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, who came out of nowhere to nail the role of an innocent schoolgirl who falls for a debonair older man in 1960s London in An Education.
Best Supporting Actor: The Messenger's Woody Harrelson for his work as hardened military officer assigned the grim duty of telling the next-of-kin when a family member has been killed in the line of duty.
Best Supporting Actress: It will be a disgrace if Mo'Nique doesn't win for her explosive turn as an abusive welfare mother in Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire.
Best Director: Hhmmmm. A tough one, since I'm not a big fan of any of the work nominated. I'll go with Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker because it would be nice to see a woman go home with Best Director honors for the first time ever.

Almost as nice as it would be to see The Hangover honored by the Academy.