The ones to see:
None this week.
The ones to avoid:
Miracle at St. Anna
More detailed reviews after the break…
If you blindly love George W. Bush, you’ll probably find this movie mean-spirited. If you despise George W. Bush, you’ll probably find this movie too sympathetic. Why? Because this movie portrays George W. Bush for what he is – an imperfect human being. This is the one reason this movie isn’t in the "Ones to avoid" section. Now, the major players in his presidency are pretty villainous here, but even if you don’t agree with all of the things he does in this movie (and most won’t), Bush comes across as a real person, and not an over-simplified joke. That was very refreshing, especially with so many morons running around denouncing him as pure evil or a complete idiot. My biggest gripe, though, is where the movie chose to spend its time. A surprising amount of the movie features Bush in his presidential years, as it cuts between planning the Iraq war and his back story. I would have much rather seen the movie’s length shortened, because there was far too much time spent in the present for my taste. I wanted to really watch George grow up and become who he is now, and I wanted to see his relationship with Laura – though, what IS there between them is very well done… I just wanted it to be more. Also, while most of the portrayals were performed well and subtle, for some reason Thandie Newton’s performance as Condoleezza Rice drove me nuts – it felt extremely over the top and cartoonish, though I’ll fault Oliver Stone for letting that be. So, while Oliver Stone obviously has his own agenda, it was nice to see that he gave Bush a pretty fair shot in this movie. Besides, Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush) is still as great looking as always, even playing this less attractive character… so there’s always that 😉
(PS.. today just happens to be her birthday)
Miracle at St. Anna
Oh great scott… this movie was horrible. It plays out a bit like Citizen Kane, starting with a mystery and unraveling the answer as we watch the past play out. This movie, though, is just no good. The story was ok, nothing amazing, but that’s not really my complaint. The plot was very shattered and aimless. The editing was so horrible in places (jump cuts, repeated actions) that I almost had to believe it was done on purpose. Our "main" characters disappear from the storyline quite often, and they are far from the most interesting part. There is a side narrative about an Italian rebel that played out much more interestingly. Not all of our main cast survive, but as they were getting shot up on-screen, I didn’t care at all. Isn’t that a bad thing? Though the overall story makes sense, the entire picture is disjointed in its presentation from beginning to end. Oh… and, amongst all of the other bad story choices (and confusing conversations), there was a very strong female lead – who ends up betraying all of that and having sex with a completely sleazy character. It wasn’t a case of portraying a flawed person, it was an excuse to get this woman naked – and to reduce her character to that of a ditzy tramp… and I’m not even a feminist, yikes. This is the first movie I’ve seen by Spike Lee – and, just… wow. I have never been less impressed by such a praised director.
If you see either of these movies, let me know – even if it’s just to disagree with me 🙂