About Me

Warning you about crappy movies since 2008.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Animal Kingdom

Pity the teenage "J," who goes to live with his grandmum and uncles after his mum dies of a heroine overdose.

Grandma Smurf is not your archetypal grandma. She's a tart who's a big player in an Australian crime syndicate, and she controls every move -- hardly any of them legal -- her adult sons make. Jacki Weaver is criminally good in her role as matriarch/criminal mastermind. And, J may as well be another foot soldier in her gun-toting, drug-dealing army.

The only actor better than Weaver is James Frecheville, the lad who plays J. He goes from naive to dumbstruck to bewildered to enraged and is never less than 100 percent believable, although he's in an unbelievable predicament.

The audience finds out, at the same time J does, just how sociopathic most of this family is. Yet, they're the only family he's got. His choices become more and more limited as the film progresses -- and as more and more of his seeming allies get bumped off.

It's good to see Guy Pearce on screen again, although his role as a benevolent police officer is small. J must struggle to figure out if he should remain loyal to his trigger-happy family or trust this policeman who offers him safety. With his family's connections, is safety even possible?

Gripping, twisted and compelling from start to finish. See it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fanny, Annie & Danny

You've heard of families who put the "fun" in "dysfunctional."

That's not this family.

These people are downright hateful. There's a bitter, controlling mother (one of the most memorable performances I've seen this year!) who has a clear favorite among her three children and doesn't hesitate to let everyone know it. Her favorite is her son, Danny, who has no interest in his doting mother -- since he's too busy looking out for himself. One daughter, Annie, has built up a lifetime of resentment because she's had to look out for her developmentally disabled older sister, Fanny. There's a father around, too, but he's just trying his best to stay out of everyone's way.

When this fragile, wounded clan gets together for Christmas, there are sure to be awkward moments, tears and yelling, guilt trips, hurt feelings and plenty of drama. It's cynical, darkly comical, weird, angst-filled, quirky and a complete original. A wondrous discovery. See it!

Charlotteans: It's here for one night only, courtesy of the Charlotte Film Festival: Saturday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. at Park Terrace. I urge you to see it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The American

Think you can't get enough of George Clooney? I challenge you to sit through The American, a new movie that bills itself as a thriller and stars George and no one you've ever heard of, and see if you get your fill.

I agree with the rest of the population in thinking George is a perfect specimen of extreme good looks, charisma, humor and talent with a giant dose of humanitarianism tossed in. But, let me tell you: There is a chink in his armor, and it's called The American.

With its beautiful, but dangerous, women; varied European locales; secret agent-y, "Who can you trust?" aura; and copious amounts of gunfire, it could, at first blush, remind you of a James Bond movie. Except, there is a total lack of snappy dialogue. In fact, there's almost no dialogue at all. And, the European locales are all washed-out. The landscape matches the storyline and the acting. It's all ho-hum.

See George do push-ups and pull-ups. See George fashion a new weapon out of spare parts. See George have clandestine meetings in bland coffee shops. See George stare off into the middle-distance.

We never learn anything about George's background. Hell, we don't even know if his character's name is Jack or Edward. (He's known by both.) Who's he working for? Who's he out to get, and why? What's his mission? If you're looking for answers, you won't find them here.

Killing-for-hire, prostitution and Italy and Denmark have never looked duller.

George Clooney has joked in past interviews about his work in the sitcom Facts of Life. I think he'll one day joke about this lame effort, too. Skip it.