S. Martin Shelton

Retired U.S.Navy Captain, Novelist

Archive for the tag “Movie Review”

Movie Review, The Intern,

Production Company.  Waverly Films

Writer/Director.  Nancy Meyers

Actors

  • Anne Hathaway does a yeoman performance as Jules Ostin as the “not-all-together,” overworked, and on the edge CEO of her startup Internet sales company.
  • Robert DeNiro is outstanding as Ben Whittaker—Seventy-year old, widower, and retired executive from a defunct company. Now he’s a Muse and sage to Jules.
  • What’s compelling about this drama is the slowly budding, aseptic chemistry between Ben and Jules.

The Intern is a delightful woman’s film—written and directed by a talented woman.  It’s the classic story of the young meets the old, the old ever so cleverly engenders insight into the young, and all the young’s problems are solved.  That’s the nut of the story—clearly I could detail more, but no need. See the film or read a synopsis on the web.

I have four major negatives with this film.

  1. The ambiance of this film, at times, is frippery.
  2. At 121 minutes this film is far too long for the attendant narrative.
  3. Far too many screen minutes are devoted to two talking heads (Ben and Jules) exchanging detrop comments.
      • One such scene plays in Jules’ spacious office.
      • Another plays in Jules’ hotel room in San Francisco.
  1. The scene where Ben and his hi-tech gang raid Jules’ mother’s home to retrieve an aberrant email from Jules is so much blatherskite. Editing out this irrelevant scene would save precious screen minutes and keep the audience’s empathy on track with the unfolding primary story.  Also, with the scene missing, the audience would not conclude that Jules can be a dingbat and always is in control.

The ending has a twist that I did not expect. View the film.  Enjoy.  It’s another hit for Nancy Meyers.

Film Review: The Woman in Gold

the woman in goldDetails. Released April 2015. Orion Pictures. Actors: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Donald Bruke, Kate Holmes, Mana Altman. Director, Simon Curtis. Writers: Alexi Kaye Campbell.

Background. During the Anschluss of 1938, Nazi Germany overthrew the government of Austria. Following, the Austrian and German Nazis looted Jewish possessions: art, jewelry, furs, and silver, anything of value.

Synopsis. This film is liberally based on actuality. Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), an elderly Jewish refugee from Nazi Austria, attempts to recover four valuable paintings by the now world-famous artist Gustav Klimt that Nazi thugs looted from her family. In particular she wants the painting titled “The Woman in Gold,” a portrait of, Adele Bloch-Baurer I, her aunt. After the War, the paintings were on display in the Austrian State Gallery. Over the ensuing years, “The Woman in Gold” became Austria’s equivalent of France’s “Mona Lisa.”

In 1999 Altmann, the now American citizen, employs the attorney E. Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) to plead her case against the implacable Austrian Government. Her motivation is to publicize the Nazi’s unmitigated genocide and illicit art theft and to seek some matter of justice and restitution. Eventually, Schoenberg, through extended, legal machinations, wins his case through an arbitration panel that declares that the paintings the property of Altmann. She returns the four paintings to the United States and they are now on display at the Neue Galerie in New York City.

Critique. On the whole, I enjoyed this film. On a scale of one to five, I place it at four. It engendered intense empathy in me as it stimulated my recalled these events from World War II. Helen Mirren is exceptional as Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann. Ryan Reynolds does a yeoman job as E. Randol Schoenberg—thought he’s bit stoic at times. The miss en scène is skillfully portrayed with excellent cinematography, background locations, costumes, props, etc. Directing, and editing are first-rate. And, as noted art direction is superb.

Several plot points piqued my interest.

  1. During the Austrian Nazi government regime, Maria Altmann and her husband board an aeroplane in Vienna bound for Cologne—in the heart of Nazi Germany. Next, she is in the United States without her husband. There is a large hole in this scenario. What happened to her husband? And how did they (she) escape from Nazi Germany?
  2. The transitions from present day to 1938 are exceptionally well executed. However, after a time they became timeworn.
  3. I must admit that I was somewhat annoyed that the Schӧnebrunn Palace was shown several times as some other building and not always the same building. I reckon that’s artistic prerogative.

Captain America Movie Review

Marvel Productions. Kevin Feige, Producer;  Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, Directors.

Staring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson.

136 minutes.

A special effects extravaganza with a plot as thin as a wet tissue, best describes this “moving picture.”  (I hesitate to use the term.)  And move it does—all the time, all over the screen, and all over what svelte plot there is.

In essence, this film is a remake of the classic 1957 film  Shootout at the OK Corral.  Today’s film mise en scene in current day and instead of six-shooters we see futuristic weapons that could wipe out mankind/womankind/etc..  There is the good guy and his sidekick (naturally), the good/bad/good female, the hard-as-nails. know-it-all top gun; and, of course the eeevil big-time manager who plans to rule the world.  Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!.

Here’s this fellows scheme: his cadre has pinpointed millions of people to be terminated because they are miscreants, old, sick, stupid, nonproductive, etc.  As a result, the remaining folks will live in a utopian society under his control. Does this sound familiar circa, 1933-1945?

At times, the dialogue is so trite and spoken so ineptly that I slid down in my seat; embarrassed for the patrons in the theater with me who had to listen and see this tripe.  There is not one character in this charade of a film that engenders empathy—no one with whom we can identify, no situation or location that renders true.  It’s impossible to willing suspension disbelief in this film—the audience’s keystone to a successful moving-picture.

This film is nonsense, idiotic, stupid, and a waste of time.  Save you money.  Stay home.

 

Amelia, 2009 Film Review

ImageFox Sunlight Pictures.  Mira Nair, director.  Hilary Swank and Richard Gere lead actors.  Ron Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan screen-play writers.  111 minutes.   2009.

So I’m tardy with this review.  Not so.  I published it in In Sync magazine in its January 2010 issue—shortly after I viewed this film.  Now that my new social media is functioning, I’m publishing it again.  It synchronizes with my upcoming short story book Aviators, Adventurers, and Assassins which contains a flagship documentary-style novella that reveals the skullduggery extant on Earhart’s last flight, entitled Amelia.   (See sheltoncomm.com)

I’m an ol’ codger.  Amelia Earhart was an icon in my youth.  As an eight-year old nipper, I remember clearly where I was and what I was doing when I heard on the radio broadcast that Amelia Earhart was missing somewhere near Howland Island in the Central Pacific.  Yes, I’m that young.  With the massive search conducted by the US Navy, I was confident that they’d find her.  To no avail, unfortunately.    Accordingly, I have a vested interest in Amelia Earhart.

To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, Amelia is an awful film.  It’s a great film.

Let’s explore “awful” first.   Amelia is a mishmash of miscellaneous scenes that lack coherence and purpose.  This film stumbles along some path I cannot discern.  If the viewer does not know the details of Amelia’s life, they may well wonder, when the lights come on, What was this film about?  

Infrequently does Amelia engender empathy.  Without empathy, there is no involvement, entertainment, or communication.  On the whole, directing and acting are pedestrian—save Swank, from time-to-time.  Gere is wooden—not the robust hustler that was George Putnam.

I cringed that far, far too many close-ups show the actors staring into space looking at something off screen, or infernally smiling about something we cannot fathom or see.  Amelia is more of a romantic film than an autobiographical film of the dynamic aviatrix.  Perhaps, I expected too much.

Technical errors are myriad.  No need to discuss here; there’re posted on IMDb.   However, I’ll discuss a few that particularly vex me.   This film overlooks the fact that Amelia Earhart was a mediocre pilot, at best.  That’s what killed her.  She was over confident, stubborn, and had a narcissistic ego.  She believed Putnam’s publicity.  She failed to listen to her mentor, Paul Mantz, about learning Morse code and using the long-range antenna to transmit its signals.  She was palpably ignorant about radio procedures and its technical factors.  Her refusal to practice radio protocols with her guide ship, the USCGC Itasca is particularly troubling and is the direct reason of her death.

The last scene is a disaster—a collage of technical nonsense.  Earhart is lost.  She cannot find Howland.  She is low on petrol.  And she cannot communicate with the Itasca with congruity.  Again prior knowledge of these few critical minutes is essential to understanding this scene and her fate.

If I were directing this last scene, we’d see the Electra from a high-angle, rear shot flying over the ocean and receding in size until it disappears.  On the soundtrack, we hear the twin-engines on the Electra purring loudly.  As the Electra decreases in size, the volume of the engines reduces in synchronization with the visuals. Mixed with the engine sounds, we faintly hear the jumbled voice radio-communications between Amelia and the Itasca. This voice also fades in volume.  Shortly we hear the engines supper, cough, and quit, one by one.  Then silence as the Electra disappears from view.

It’s a great film.  I was disappointed that Art Direction did not get a nomination for an Academy Award.  Airplanes, props, costumes, and automobiles set an authentic 1930s ambiance.  Swank is Amelia—outstanding look-alike with makeup, hairstyle, and clothes.  Most of the flying scenes of the ol’-time airplanes are spectacular—even the computer generated.  The blending of newsreel footage into the narrative is excellent.  Lastly, the Richard Rogers and Lorentz Hart tune Blue Moon sung by a pretend Billie Holiday stirs the soul.

 

 

 

 

 

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