√ Bob Recommended
Though I still have a few more highly-touted films to see this year, this splendid tale of a maverick speech therapist helping King George VI find his voice (in more ways than one) moves past “The Social Network” on my list of favorite/best movies of 2010. Colin Firth, who should have won the Oscar last year for “A Single Man,” is again superb as the king and Geoffrey Rush is ideal as the eccentric therapist. There are some overly sentimental moments, but the overall vision and execution have a timeless, majestic feel. Excellent direction and script.
√ Bob Recommended
Your feelings about this surprisingly daring film may rest largely on whether you believe Christian Bale’s super-charged performance as Mark Wahlberg’s older, crack-addicted brother and trainer. For much of the saga of junior welterweight prizefighter Mickey Ward, Bale seems to be on the verge of spinning out of control, but his manic, wild-eyed antics are vindicated in a video clip shown over the final credits. In it, we see that Ward’s brother, Dickey, was every bit as relentlessly theatrical as Bale’s portrayal. Melissa Leo’s turn as Wahlberg’s pushy, dominating mother is equally inspired. Given these acting fireworks, it’s a wonder that Wahlberg is able to also stand out even though his character, Ward, is far less colorful. Then again, the real story here is Ward’s dysfunctional family, not his ring exploits—and it is Wahlberg’s nicely disciplined performance that ultimately gives the “The Fighter” its humanity and heart.
“HOW DO YOU KNOW”
Slow, disjointed, senseless
Reese Witherspoon is in top form, but even her considerable charm isn’t enough to overcome the slow pace and implausible plot. She is cast as a young woman whose life has just been shook by disappointment and who is trying to regain her balance and confidence by choosing between two totally unsuitable beaus. Owen Wilson is fun as a spoiled, girl-crazed major league pitcher, while Paul Rudd seems rudderless as a man fighting against being manipulated by his wealthy father (nice, if predictable, part for Jack Nicholson). The thing you keep asking yourself throughout the long movie is why she is wasting her time with either guy—and you never get an answer. The end comes like a thud. What ever happened to James L. Brooks’ touch?
“I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS”
Nice Jim Carrey performance isn’t enough.
Just because it’s a true story doesn’t make it interesting. In fact, this chronicle of a flamboyant con-man’s transformation from suburban husband to a white-collar corporate whiz is pretty standard, agreeable cinematic stuff if you strip away the romantic bond between Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. The only real strength is an engaging performance by Carrey.