Fast and Lucy with the Movie

DATELINE: Kubrick Homage?

Lucy

Director Luc Bresson must have seen Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey too many times as a child. He makes a movie like he alone must love Lucy.

His new movie Lucy begins with an apparent homage to the opening sequence of Kubrick’s sci-fi classic with just one simple simian at the watering hole. It is, of course, the first human, Lucy in Africa a million years ago.

He ends his movie with the same psychedelic trip through the portals of time and space as the long-ago classic. In between these moments, Bresson postulates the old chestnut theory that the world (and universe) will be the oyster of humans if they ever used more than 10% of their brains.

Last time we saw Scarlett Johanssen, we were greatly amused at her catatonic space alien, wandering around Glasgow in an original film called Under the Skin by Jonathan Glazer. This time she starts out as a drug mule for some Chinese mobsters and ends up with a packet sewn into her stomach. When it explodes, the formula does something to her brain.

Suddenly she is more than smart. She has extrasensory powers. Who knew? Well, scientist Morgan Freeman does. Lucy contacts him about her gift, and Freeman has sage advice indeed.

All this opens up the chance for your rather typical car chases, shoot-outs, and violent shenanigans. This time the hero is a woman driver.

Johanssen does it better than most everyone else, and the movie hums along with flashy directorial style dancing on the edge of crypto-science. We half expected Bigfoot and UFOs to join hands at the climax.

It’s not mindless entertainment. It may actually force you to use 10% of your brain.

 

Her is not She

 

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

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Sappy Joaquin Phoenix

Her violates every tenet of traditional movie-making and audience rapport. But, this is not Orson Welles or Stanley Kubrick level filmmaking.

This is a light romantic comedy that runs over two hours in its original form.

The movie is directed by Spike Jonze, a man who stole his name from Spike Jones, an old comedic bandleader.

The main character is a computer voice that a nerd falls in love with. This is an ironic twist on HAL, the computer voice 45 years ago from 2001: A Space Odyssey

The protagonist is a ‘writer’, always a deadly character that has no identification with the audience.

The protagonist is a nerd, always a deadly character that has too much identification for the audience.

The film required the help of Steven Spielberg to edit the film down to a length that audiences still don’t like.

The protagonist wears a mustache that looks better on Ron Burgundy in 1980.

The swells at the Film Society of Lincoln Center think this is a swell movie, full of art, but audiences know what swill swell is.

Nobody likes a sensitive computer. They tend to crash at all the wrong moments.

Joaquin Phoenix’s acting is excruciatingly coy.

The story would have been more believable if the computer dragged the nerd out of the closet. Responding to a male voice would be hilariously romantic.

Saccharine movies are the bane of cynical moviegoers.

Straight men don’t like to be reminded how much they have been feminized by the women in their lives.

Only women would like the notion that a man would fall in love with a voice, not a body.

Comedy is a social corrective, not a social laxative.

The Thinning of Henry VIII

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

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Eric Bana, Better Looking than Six Wives in a Plot

We have seen King Henry lose weight like Jenny Craig was among his six wives.

The Other Boleyn Girl proves to be an opulent tragic romance, penned by that brilliant master of historical and royal people, Peter Morgan who gave us Frost/Nixon, The Queen, and others.

This early effort put his talents upon the old chestnut of Anne Boleyn and her ill-fated marriage to a king who made ‘off with her head’ one of his calling cards.

Henry has been losing weight in recent years and becoming more of a media darling—jacked and athletic, looking less like Prince Fielder than his portraits suggest. He has gone from the piggy style of Charles Laughton to the debonair Jonathan Rhys Meyers, nearly a waif, and now through Eric Bana, Henry is a king in and out of bed. His adultery comes across as fun only a king could have in those days.

The camera lingers on his abs during one heady bedtime with Anne’s sister Mary. Yes, Henry kept it in the family. Mary won his heart and kept her head. As a sidelight she marries William Carey, played by Benedict Cumberbatch in another curio role. 

Even as the quisling, weakling husband of Mary Boleyn, he manages to make a mark in a limited role.

Tracking familiar territory, the tale of the intrigue in Henry’s court finds another offshoot to make it watchable with Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johanssen as the Boleyn sisters.

We also enjoyed Kristin Scott Thomas as their mother whose common sense was simply ignored as the temper of the times demanded.

You’d almost think this was a BBC/PBS special cable movie, but you’d be wrong. This movie is strictly the big time, big budget, and big pomp.