Mirror, Mirror is a strange movie.
It's not as funny as the previews made it out to be. The sets are surreal and obviously fake. There are plot holes regarding Julia Roberts Wicked Stepmother character. And there was a Bollywood musical number during the closing credits!
It's one of those movies in which the concept was great but the actual movie doesn't work very well, not to mention that the story moves kind of slow.
Actually, the sets were what I liked the best! The scenes in the snow-covered forest made me imagine what Camelot or Dr. Zhivago must have looked like on the big screen. The snow also really set off the outlandish costumes.
I know Mirror, Mirror has done only moderately well at the theaters. It looks like it was meant to be a Christmas release movie but for some reason was delayed. The film might have done better had it been released in December.
John Cusack's "The Raven" has done poorly at the theaters, both in Europe and in the United States. It has an unusual premise: What happened to Edgar Allen Poe in the last five days of his life, and what caused his death?
It's entirely fiction: Poe's helping the police chase a serial killer who has kidnapped his fiance. The film is beautifully shot, but a little slow-moving. It has an R rating, for one very violent gory scene of one of the first murders. Other than that, it's pretty much PG-13.
The occasional anachronisms don't help: the use of the word "OK," the term "I'm you're biggest fan" and most notably, the rock song during the closing credits don't help.
(Yes, I realize that "OK" originated in the early 1800s, but I'm not sure how widespread its use was until the mid-20th century.)
My latest comments are about yet another "religious" movie. It's called October Baby from 2011. The film is about a college student with numerous health problems. Her parents don't tell her until she's 19 that she was adopted, and that her chronic conditions are the result of a premature birth due to an attempt to abort her. The girl then goes on a trip to find her birth mother.
The film isn't overtly religious, although the closing credits listed a number of conservative Christian groups that helped sponsor its making.
As for the movie itself, I really enjoyed it, and it was unusual story filmed in Mobile, Alabama, along the Gulf Coast, a place we don't normally see in movies. The only two actors I recognized were John Schneider, who plays the girl's father, and Jasmine Guy, who played a nurse she meets. Guy was awesome in this movie; in an alternate universe she could have been nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Her character was reminiscent of the one that Mariah Carey played in "Precious."
Why do I keep going to see conservative Christian movies? Not for the reasons many people assume. I love going to movies and have seen hundreds of films on all ends of the spectrums of religion, politics or economics. It's not the political message I'm interested in--I see movies because the plot interests me or I like some of the actors!
The other reason is much more mundane. There is a third-run, inexpensive theater literally one block down the street from me. The owner, although he shows the blockbusters, specializes in showing these little-known low-budget family movies, and I commend him for that.
I've loved Judi Dench since I discovered her old British TV series "As Time Goes By" on PBS. She is the star of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
A group of retirees from England makes plans to stay in a long-term hotel in India. Of course, the inn's website exaggerated, and the place has just been reopened and is very run-down. The owner cannot afford to refund their money and they all decide to stay.
In typical movie fashion, each of the characters goes through a healing process because of their time in India and at the hotel. (Truth is, they all just probably needed to get away from home for a spell!)
This extended vacation exposes the difficulties that two of the characters have, and their time there ends badly. The others live (somewhat) happily ever after.
If David Lean, Sergio Leone and Francis Ford Coppola got together to make a movie, it would look like "For Greater Glory."
Why these three? Because the movie has:
Peter O'Toole, passenger trains, some that were blown up (Lean).
A lone gunfighter in the desert, wearing Spanish-style clothing and a bandolier of bullets, killing a troop of soldiers (Leone).
Stylized gun battles (Coppola).
"Glory" is a Mexican epic set in the 1920s. During that decade, the new Mexican president outlawed public religious displays and eventually most of church worship, to the point of killing many religious. Catholic priests and their parishioners rebelled and formed an army to fight the government troops.
The movie is R-rated because of its extreme violence, including the torture and murder of a young boy. There is no cursing, no nudity, no sex. But it was very well-done, and I learned a lot of Mexican history.
I've mentioned the small privately-owned movie theater down the street from me before. The owner, Ed Miller, shows a lot of mass market G, PG and PG-13 movies but also a number of Catholic or conservative Christian movies. He doesn't show R movies, but the priest at the local Catholic church mentioned "Glory" during one of his sermons a few weeks ago, which I think was one of the reasons Ed decided to show this one.
I saw it on a Saturday night, the 9 p.m. show. The film is almost 2 1/2 hours long. The theater was packed, and there were many families with young children there. The kids were all very quiet during the film, and nobody left early. I hope the violence didn't frighten them too much--it sure bothered me! I realize that many video games are very violent, and the youngsters have probably watched R-rated movies on TV or video, but I wondered if this was the first R movie many of them might have seen on the big screen.
I THOUGHT Moonrise Kingdom was going to be a sweet adventure story set in 1965 about a boy and a girl, both age 12, who run away to another island, unaware that a hurricane is coming.
Well, that is the plot, but "sweet" it ain't. Moonrise Kingdom is a rather bizarre movie, even creepy at times. Bruce Willis and Bill Murray both look kind of embarrassed to be in it. It's supposed to be a comedy, but I laughed only a few times. Moonrise simply wasn't to my taste.
Although you won't need really need tissues as you watch Disney's latest, "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," you'll quickly guess at the beginning of the film that the ending isn't going to be happy.
It's the story of a couple unable to have children who imagine what the perfect child would be like, and that night he appears in their house. Timothy's story will remind you both of "Pinocchio," obviously, and also of the various wood nymphs of Shakespeare and Greek mythology, because of the leaves on his legs.
The best character isn't any of the Green family. Rather, it is the snotty elderly lady who runs the local museum, played by Dianne Wiest, who is both funny and intimidating.
The title of "Hope Springs" is a pun--it's the name of the town where it takes place, and of course, there is the phrase "Hope springs eternal."
Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play a middle-aged couple who go to a marriage counselor, played by Steve Carell. The film is uncomfortably frank about the couple's lack of a sex life and how far they have drifted apart.
"Hope" is being promoted as a comedy, and it has its funny moments, but it is definitely a drama. Because there are so few people in it, and most of it takes place in the same rooms, it might work better as an adult play.
As for the audience, there was a large crowd, but I saw only one woman there under the age of 40, and she came with her parents. Although the film isn't as great as it could have been, it is good that there is a movie being marketed for the over-35 audience.
I wanted so badly to like "Beasts of the Southern Wild," the story of a forgotten, desperately poor community along the Gulf Coast when a hurricane comes through.
But the film is somewhat slow and can actually be a bit nauseating to watch.
The squalor in which the protagonists live is hard to sit through. And yet the people are unusually optimistic, not too concerned about starting over yet again after another devastating storm. They are also very healthy, probably because they've grown or caught everything they eat.
"The Words" is a story within a story within a story. Got all that?
It's about an author, Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid), who has written a novel about so-so writer Rory Janson (Bradley Cooper) who discovers a long-lost manuscript by another writer, whose name we never do learn (Jeremy Irons). Rory publishes the story as his own, and it is highly acclaimed and a big seller. Then the person who wrote the original manuscript, now an old man (Irons' character), introduces himself to Rory.
The plot jumps back and forth across the three storylines, and it takes a bit of time to figure out who is in which plot and what each plot is. The one major plot hole was this: Rory doesn't know the old writer's name; all that he knows is that the man now lives in upstate New York and that he had served in France in World War II. Yet Rory immediately tracks him down to apologize and offer him part of the books' earnings.
I wanted so badly to love this movie, but was disappointed in how convoluted it was.