Tag Archive: judi dench

Dir. Sam Mendes
(2012, PG-13, 143 minutes)

I’m far from a James Bond aficionado. Skyfall is only the fourth film in the franchise I’ve seen, following two Pierce Brosnan entries (The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day) and Daniel Craig‘s first, Casino Royale, so I approach it less as part of a long-running tradition and more as a spy thriller on its own terms. By that standard it’s very good: kinetic but not overly choppy, driven by a simple, straight-ahead story and interesting characters.

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Dir. John Madden
(2012, PG-13, 122 min)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a pleasant film that evaporates as soon as the credits roll. It exists somewhere on the cultural highway between Slumdog Millionaire and Eat Pray Love – a gentle, genteel, unchallenging trifle about experiencing a foreign culture and along the way learning the kinds of life lessons we’ve already learned in dozens of other movies. It seems to have been designed, whatever its charms, to leave little impression at all.

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Dir. Simon Curtis
(2011, R, 101 min)

According to the production notes, My Week with Marilyn is about “the brief, charged connection [Marilyn Monroe] forged with a young man who came to understand her better than anyone.” The film’s biggest problem is that it believes that. I can’t comment on the actual week young, wide-eyed Colin Clark spent with Monroe while she filmed The Prince and the Showgirl, but the character in the film, played by Eddie Redmayne, doesn’t seem to understand her very well at all. That the film idealizes their relationship misses what really seems to have been at the heart of Monroe’s loneliness and isolation.

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Dir. Clint Eastwood
(2011, R, 137 min)

J. Edgar is an informative film about the growth of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, but it’s more instructive than passionate. In the last decade, director Clint Eastwood has made reflective, expressive films like Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jima with a minimalist style whose economy brought out the power of his subjects; his still waters run deep. With J. Edgar, though he retains the somberness and desaturated tones of his previous work, he doesn’t capture the same intimacy. His characters don’t draw us in as fully, and his more emotional scenes feel as though they’re trying too hard.

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Penelope Cruz, in 'Nine'

Dir. Rob Marshall
(2009, PG-13, 119 min)
★ ★ ½

Nine is a watchable and intermittently satisfying film, but I’m not sure what it’s about. It’s based on the Broadway musical inspired by Federico Fellini’s famed semi-autobiographical film . I saw a few years ago for a film class; I’m not sure I knew what it was about either.

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