Day By Day

Sunday, March 27, 2011

At the Movies

"She Who Must Not Be Named" occasionally goes on a movie kick. This week, for instance, at her insistence we have seen three movies. The first was "The Lincoln Lawyer" starring Matthew McConaughey. It's a silly little trifle in which Matt plays a street smart lawyer who operates out of the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car [hence the title] who is challenged by a rich pretty-boy, played by Ryan Philippe, who likes to assault women. It is pitched at about the level of a weekly TV drama and never aspires to anything higher. Readers might be interested to know that Matt keeps his streak intact -- he takes his shirt off, just as he has done in every other of his films. Instantly forgettable, LL is a waste of both time and money.

The second film was truly atrocious. It was "Limitless" starring Bradley Cooper. It's about a non-productive writer who takes a pill that boosts his intelligence and makes him into a super-genius. Eventually things begin to go wrong and he starts to have problems..., big problems. At first I thought this might be an updated version of the Faust legend, but it soon became apparent that it was much less profound than that. Then I hoped that it might have some of the clout of Cliff Robertson's 1968 SF classic, "Charly", but by the end it had morphed into Charlie Sheen's fantasy world where appropriately administered medication can turn you into a "winner" rather than a corpse. Again, it is not worth your time or money. Skip it.

The third flick was a real winner. "Battle: Los Angeles" stars Aaron Eckhart and state of the art CGI in a SF tale pitting evil aliens against doughty American marines. On a technical level -- the use of sound, CGI, shakeycam, etc. it is as contemporary as you can get, but in terms of theme, characterization, and plotting it is a throwback to the military dramas of half a century ago. I loved it! The queasycam was a bit too much -- it always is -- and the sound effects were a bit annoying, but the story [essentially a love letter to the USMC] was a lot of fun. You had a small, ethnically mixed, squad of marines, led by a vet on the brink of retirement, who face danger and overcome their fears and limitations to [and I'm not spoiling anything here] fight on to victory. There's not much characterization and every cliche of the old battle stories is prominently and unapologetically portrayed. It was a relief to see a film that didn't wink at or parody the old conventions and for me the whole thing worked beautifully. It's my recommendation for this week -- check it out!

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