Sunday, July 22, 2012

To Rome with Love

Today I saw To Rome with Love, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin.

This film was just what I needed. Woody Allen directs and stars in this delightful dance around Rome. Using his signature themes of adultery and infatuation, he shows us four stories of life and love—all entertaining and pleasant to follow.

First, there's Jack (Eisenberg), an aspiring American architect living in Rome with his girlfriend, getting to know an architectural legend, John (Baldwin) whom he met on the street. John comes for coffee and then materializes magically (hilariously) for days thereafter to offer advice. Monica (Ellen Page) is the seductress that John is advising Jack against.

Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni) is an everyday business man until he wakes up famous for no reason. The paparazzi hound him, he enjoys the pleasures of popularity and exhibits behavior associated with those who gain fame too fast.

Antonio (Alessandro Tiberian) and Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) are newlyweds who have come to the city to introduce Milly to Antonio's family. She feels frumpy and sets out to find a beauty salon and gets lost. By days' end, both sides of this happy couple will be sexually tempted by strangers.

Hillary (Allison Pill) falls in love and becomes engaged to Michaelangelo (Flavio Parenti) and wants her parents Jerry (Woody Allen) and Phyllis (Judy Davis) to meet him. When they arrive in Rome, they learn of Michaelangelo's father who is an undertaker with a gift for song. Jerry, a former music man, wants to jump start his career, but needs to come up with a creative way for him to overcome stage fright.

Each story is told with heart and humor, and every path leads to at least one character to root for. This film isn't a masterpiece like Match Point or Midnight in Paris, but it is very satisfying. I only wish Woody would continue this trend of basing his films in European cities.

I can only imagine what he'd do with Dublin.


Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Tonight I saw The Dark Knight Rises, starring Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway. It will be the topic of our August Cinebanter show, so tune in next month for our review.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Magic Mike

Tonight I saw Magic Mike, starring Channing Tatum and Cody Horn.

Let's be real—none of us were going for the plot anyway.

Magic Mike is the stripper name of Mike (Tatum), who has a lot of 'career' irons in the fire. He's a construction worker, auto detailer and maker of high-concept furniture, but his bread and butter comes from stripping.

Adam (Alex Pettyfer) is a 19-year-old 'kid' who Mike meets on a construction job. Down on his luck, Adam needs work, so Mike recruits him to be a prop guy at the club...which soon leads to him also becoming a stripper. And a drug dealer. And a punk.

Amidst all the chaos is a budding romance between Mike and Adam's sister Brooke (Horn). Brooke is the physical opposite of all the ladies that frequent the club: low-maintenance, sans makeup, real breasts. He's immediately smitten, of course.

As Mike attempts (quite unsuccessfully) to keep Adam on the straight and narrow, Brooke acts as his judgmental conscience, all the while falling equally in love (or lust) with him.

If the characters weren't so devoid of intelligence, it would have borderline sweet.

But Mike thinks he can get an SBA loan with a stack of ones he collected from his underwear, and Adam thinks he can 'lose' a backpack full of ecstasy and not repay his debts to the drug lords.


Yeah, it's not so good.

But the werewolf from True Blood (Joe Manganiello) does do some dancing, and Channing is undeniably convincing as the 'lead' stripper, so there are moments of pleasure here and there (I was personally partial to the 'military' sequence).

And Matthew McConaughey? Well, he's almost too convincing as the slimy club owner.

All in all, for a stripper movie billed as the ingredients for a quintessential ladies' night, I could have done with much less talking and a lot more action.


Hard Times: Lost on Long Island Premieres Monday, July 9

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Today I saw Ted, starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis. It will the be the topic of our July episode of Cinebanter, so tune in later this month for our review.