Truly creepy moments from the 2013 Oscars (with bonus reviewlet of Les Misérables)

Oscars plumb the depths.

Confessions up front: I rarely watch the Oscars broadcast, and I had to do a search on Seth McFarlane to find out what his day job is.  That’s just how immersed I am in popular culture.  (I still don’t understand who the Kardashians are, and why Bruce Jenner seems to be involved, in spite of having it explained to me more than once by my younger, hipper sisters.)

So I don’t know if last night’s broadcast differed significantly from previous Oscar productions.  I do know it had some very jarring moments, and not in a good way.  Here are my top two: Continue reading “Truly creepy moments from the 2013 Oscars (with bonus reviewlet of Les Misérables)”

Atlas Shrugged II: The plot thickens

Time gone by.

Speaking for myself, I can’t wait to see John Galt’s 100-page soliloquy on screen, a pleasure that should be heading our way in, what? Twelve months? Eighteen?

Samantha Mathis as Dagny Taggart adds some gravitas to the second in the Atlas Shrugged series – Atlas Shrugged II: Either-Or – and director John Putch (the 2005 Poseidon Adventure, The Book of Love) keeps the story moving right along.  Some of the aesthetic choices are kind of weird Continue reading “Atlas Shrugged II: The plot thickens”

Act of Valor; or, A War Without a Narrative…

Narratives, tropes, and videotape.

… but with a Chechen-Jewish Drug Smuggler Named Christo

Let me state up front that I don’t think the filmmakers meant anything by the “Christo” character.  I do think they stumbled haplessly on a hornet’s nest of anti-Semitic tropes – and thereby hangs a tale that matters.

Act of Valor is a moving, gripping film, all the more so for being enacted by real Navy SEALs.  (Full disclosure: this reviewer is a 20-year Navy veteran, and while definitely not a SEAL was privileged to work with some.)  The one major flaw I found with the production, per se, was the rather annoying sound track, which could have dispensed with the hackneyed crescendos at suspenseful moments.  What the SEALs do needs no audience-cues or embellishment.

And they do incredible things.  The movie conveys well Continue reading “Act of Valor; or, A War Without a Narrative…”