Almost as boring as the week leading up to the Super Bowl: it's my 10-second film reviews!
Movies I've seen this past week, along with my Netflix ratings (out of five stars):
The Grapes of Wrath: John Ford's adaptation of the Steinbeck novel about an Okie family displaced by the Dust Bowl. The portrayal of poverty and despair is heart-wrenching. Ma Joad, the family matriarch and an Oscar-winning character, has moments of martyrdom, but prolonged monologues curtail her effectiveness. The movie constantly derails and undercuts itself with uninspired drama, leaving the juicy stuff hanging there still waiting to be picked. (**)
Lost in Translation: Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson play disenchanted and displaced people that form an odd couple. The chemistry between the stars is strong and engaging, which crescendos with a great ending. The story, which earned writer-director Sophia Coppola an Oscar, was okay. The visuals and edit were dull, playing the film like a depressed series of postcards. (***)
The Ax: A thriller with a touch of humor and a heavy dose of social commentary. The main character, who goes on a rampage to keep his family together (or so he thinks), is played with an insatiable mania by José Garcia. The suspense at its apex is edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting stuff. Yet the plot yields a fair share of twists and turns, although there a handful of situations that are downright ludricous. (***; currently not available on Netflix)