Thursday, June 9, 2011

X-Men: First Class

My View:  X-Men: First Class (2011)  After just seeing a movie that made no sense (Tree of Life), this film, about the origins of the X-Men, was a pleasant surprise to me, as it was full of exciting action, superb special effects, a groovy 1960's style soundtrack and a well thought out story line.  Charles Xavier (played by James McAcoy) is a brash, young, newly-minted professor who is asked to consult with the CIA about the possibility of mutants being real.  Little does the government know that not only is Xavier a mutant, but so is his adopted sister, Raven (soon to be named Mystique), played by the radiant Jennifer Lawrence.  Kevin Bacon is impressive as the evil Sevastian Shaw, another mutant, who wants to start a nuclear war (Cuban Missile Crisis) so that he and his fellow mutants can take over the world.  The X-Men are formed by Xavier with help from fellow mutant Erik Lehnsherr (played by Michael Fassbender), and we get to discover, in a very funny scene, how each X-Man got his name.  There is real chemistry in the Bro-mance between McAvoy and Fassbender, and Lawrence lights up the screen in a dazzling performance of a mutant who literally isn't comfortable in her own skin.  The only weak link in this film is January Jones, who plays mutant, Emma Frost.  Although Jones looks amazing in her scanty outfits, she never shows any expression except a look as though she pulled a hamstring putting on one of her outfits.  Go see X-men: First Class for the perfect summer action film, but you don't have to stay through the credits.  Unlike Thor and Ironman, there isn't a bonus scene at the end of the movie.     My Rating:   Full Price   X-Men: First Class Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst films of all time):
#42 Best Film: The 39 Steps  (1935)  Directed by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, this early "talky" is the usual Hitchcock story line:  A man is falsely accused of murder / espionage and must clear his name.  Debonair Robert Donat plays Mr. Hannay who stumbles into a plot to steal secrets from the government.  Along the way, he encounters a woman (played by Madeleine Carroll) who reluctantly helps him try to find the stolen secrets.  As with a lot of Hitchcock films, there is lots of humor, and the blooming romance between Donat and Carroll brings a little steam to the film.  With plenty of twists and turns to the plot, this film maintains a brisk pace with a fantastic ending.  Be sure and look for the usual, elusive Hitchcock appearance.    The 39 Steps Info  
Forgotten Film:  Harold and Maude  (1971)  Directed by Hal Ashby (Being There, Coming Home), this comedy is about an unlikely pairing of a young man (played by Bud Cort) and  a 79 year-old woman (played by Ruth Gordon).  Cort plays a rich, spoiled man in is twenties, who is fascinated with death and funerals. He tries to get attention from his snobbish mother by staging fake suicides in front of her (which she totally ignores).  His life is changed when, while at a funeral, he meets Gorden whose zest for life becomes infectious.  Gorden is a whirlwind of energy, and Cort is brilliant in a performance very reminiscent of silent film star, Buster Keaton.  This is a lively and creative film that gets more amusing with each viewing.   Harold and Maude Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  True Grit  (2010)  Nominated for ten Oscars and directed by the Coen brothers (Fargo, No Country for Old Men), this is the retelling of the 1969 John Wayne film.  Jeff Bridges plays Rooster Cogburn with gusto, and Matt Damon is solid as the Texas Ranger LaBoeuf.  But 14 year-old newcomer, Hailee Steinfeld and her performance make this a vastly improved film over the original.  Steinfeld hires Bridges (a man of true grit) to find the killer of her father, and they embark on a cross country journey.  Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper round out this first rate cast, but Steinfeld is the most obvious reason to see this film.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   True Grit Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Mr. Popper's Penguins  (2011)  Jim Carrey plays a no-nonsense businessman who inherits 6 penguins from his father.  It's not a good sign when the trailer of a comedy produces no laughter from the audience, and the end of a big "fun" stunt is a penguin pooping on Carrey's head.  This looks like another stinker for an actor who hasn't had a hit in a really long time.   Mr. Popper's Penguins Website

Weird Credits:   From the credits of Tree of LIfe (2011):  Organ piano coach to Mr. Pitt

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Green Lantern  (2011)  A test pilot is given a mysterious ring that is the key to saving the world. Can Ryan Reynolds, mostly known for comedies, wear the green ring and carry an action film?  The fan boys are very nervous about this film, but the film’s trailer looks like it could be a good addition to the comic book film world.   Green Lantern Website
See You Next Time!

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