Holiday Movie Reviews



            I didn’t know Gwyneth Paltrow was in this film!  I was surprised by that.  Though this is a superhero movie, it’s a smart and funny one.  Robert Downey Jr. is older (and more buff) than you’ve seen him in the past.  RDJ plays Tony Stark, a weapons inventor/millionaire/playboy, who creates an iron suit to escape from a group of terrorists in Afghanistan.  This experience changes him, and he decides to upgrade the suit (in secret).  


Jeff Bridges (looking good, even with a shaved head and graying goatee) is his partner/nemesis.  Tony’s true friends are Navy weapons inspector (Terence Howard) and Gwyneth, his loyal PA/potential love interest.  RDJ is a naturalistic actor, so he brings gravity to his character (like Christian Bale did with Batman).  He gets some serious moments and some REALLY funny lines, too.  Not to mention- RDJ has great eyes!               




Slumdog Millionaire


I saw this (new) film w/ the fam this past weekend in the Indy suburbs.  (My mom knew many folks who’d seen it already at the local uni.)  It was only playing at 3 theaters in the Indy area, so the place was packed!  I was a little surprised, but many people are visiting during the holidays.  And this particular theater (inside a new high-end mall) is very nice.  The previews were interesting; I learned re: Two Lovers, an upcoming drama/romance starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joaquin Phoenix.  It was shot in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn and Manhattan.  Here is more info from IMDB:


Two Lovers is a romantic drama set in New York City. It tells the story of Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix), an attractive but depressed young man who moves back in with his parents following a recent heartbreak. An aspiring photographer, Leonard works part-time at his father’s dry-cleaners. His concerned parents try to set him up with Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the sweet and caring daughter of a close family friend. A big family dinner serves as their introduction and Leonard arranges to see her again. Then late one night Leonard looks out his bedroom window and notices a ravishing young woman he’s never seen before. Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow) recently moved into an apartment in his family’s building – an apartment paid for by the wealthy married man she’s seeing.


            Unlike Bolly flicks, or even most indie films, Slumdog gives a wider view of modern India (particularly Mumbai).  There are many heavy moments, but some light ones as well.  You see slums, poverty, violence, and all the things that Bollywood NEVER shows.  (This film is a collaboration btwn folks from the UK as well as India.)  It’ll remind you of the world of Charles Dickens, b/c orphans are: begging on the streets, scavenging for food, and dealing with (very shady) elements of society. The child and teen actors in Slumdog are cute and very easy to relate to, BUT they are not actor-y or cutesy in ANY way.  


The central character, Selim Malik, is played by 3 actors, including Brit desi (Dev Patel).  One of Bollywood’s biggest names (Anil Kapoor) is the smarmy host of the game show 18 y.o. Selim is on- an Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?  Respected indie film actor (Irfan Khan) is the no-nonsense police inspector who interrogates young Selim.  The show’s host and the cops think that Selim, a wide-eyed tea boy for a call center, is cheating on the show.  They take him away after the 1st night of competition.  How can someone like him (called a “slumdog”) have SO much general knowledge?  But the events of his (very difficult/painful) young life have been leading to his big moment.  Selim doesn’t care for the money (20 million rupees = $4 million); he wants to be on TV to reconnect with his one friend/true love, Latika.  Check it out for yourself- it’s an unpredictable, action-packed film!  



3:10 to Yuma (1957)


            Even though this is a classic Western film, it comes off as VERY contemporary!  At the center of the story are two different men: Dan (Van Heflin) is a serious, quiet rancher, husband, and father; Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) is a cool, smooth-talking career criminal.  Dan needs the money ($200), so he joins up with the men who will escort Ben to another town, then eventually to Yuma (where he’ll be jailed).  Earlier, Ben and his gang robbed a stagecoach and killed its driver.  As they wait for the train, Ben tries various tricks to unsettle Dan.  The characters are slowly developed, and there is NOT a lot of dialogue at times.  The acting is mostly done with the eyes and slight facial expressions.  Check this film out ASAP!  (I can’t wait to see the newer version of this with Christian Bale and Russell Crow.)               




You Can’t Take It With You (1938)


            This is a quirky comedy film (dir by Frank Capra) re: 2 VERY different families in NYC.  James Stewart (a young man from a wealthy banking dynasty) and Jean Arthur (his secretary) are the romantic pair; these actors also teamed up later for Mr. Smith Goes to WashingtonThere is a scene in a courtroom that’ll remind you of the ending of It’s a Wonderful Life.  Jimmy Stewart has some GREAT reactions to the (very wacky) events surrounding “his girl’s” family and friends.  On the down side, this film is a little too long.  The characters seem nutty (at first), but they all have good hearts.     




His Girl Friday (1940)


            It’s one of the earliest romantic comedies.  The stars are wily newspaper editor (Cary Grant) and his stressed-out reporter/ex-wife (Rosalind Russell).  He wants her to report on/write about a BIG story; she wants to get married and “have a normal life.”  The dialogue is fast and snappy!  If you haven’t seen this slapstick film, check it out sometime. 






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