‘The Intouchables’ is filmmaking at its finest

Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet in 'The Intouchables'
Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet in ‘The Intouchables’

[rating=4]Starring: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot, Alba Gaia Bellugi
Director(s): Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano
Writer(s): Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano

“Based on a true story.”

Whenever a film starts with this as part of the opening credits, they might as well say “we’ve changed at least one major element of the true story our movie is based on.”

Fortunately, this time that change doesn’t alter how wonderful and inspiring The Intouchables is.

Read more‘The Intouchables’ is filmmaking at its finest

‘Polisse’ takes hard look at child sex crimes and does it well

[rating=3]Starring: Maiwenn, Karin Virad, Joeystarr, Marina Fois, Karole Rocher, Frederic Pierrot, Wladimir Yordanoff
Director(s): Maiwenn
Writer(s): Maiwenn and Emanuelle Bercot

Maiwenn stars, co-writes and directs 'Polisse'
Maiwenn stars, co-writes and directs ‘Polisse’

Here in the U.S., some may have become a little “dulled” to the problem of cops handling sex crimes, particularly those involving children, thanks to 13 seasons (thus far) of Law and Order:  SVU.  But French director/writer/actress Maiwenn (you might have missed her in Leon: The Professional if you blinked) shows us that for the detectives in the Child Protective Unit (CPU) in Paris, sex crimes involving kids is not something for the faint of heart.

It looks and feels like a documentary, but Polisse was scripted by Maiwenn and Emanuelle Bercot, and Maiwenn plays the professional photographer hired by the police department to document the unit’s activities for a book.  She isn’t certain just how to take the detectives and their attitude at first.  She tries disguising her good looks to get taken more seriously but Fred (rapper Joeystarr) sees through this instantly, although he doesn’t let her know that for some time.  He, like every cop in the unit, has a story of his own, although we don’t get to see every cop’s individual story in detail.  There isn’t enough time in the film’s 2 hours and 7 minutes.

Read more‘Polisse’ takes hard look at child sex crimes and does it well

‘Men in Black 3’ is… better than ‘Men in Black 2’

Josh Brolin and Will Smith in 'Men in Black 3'
Josh Brolin and Will Smith in ‘Men in Black 3’

[rating=3]Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Alice Eve, Jemaine Clement
Director(s): Barry Sonnenfeld
Writer(s): Etan Cohen, David Koepp, Jeff Nathanson and Michael Soccio, from the comic by Lowell Cunningham

The singer “Meatloaf” was prophetic long ago, when he wrote a song that is now a perfect description of the MIB franchise.  The song “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” is an almost perfect description of this franchise.  The original Men in Black was great, Men in Black 3 was great, and Men in Black 2 is probably best just ignored and forgotten.

Read more‘Men in Black 3’ is… better than ‘Men in Black 2’

‘The Great Gatsby’ trailer debuts online

Leonardo DiCaprio is 'The Great Gatsby'
Leonardo DiCaprio is ‘The Great Gatsby’

Great Gatsby that’s one outstanding trailer.

Fans of the celebrated F. Scott Fitzgerald novel — which most people probably read in high school, or should have — is returning to the big screen with Leonardo Di Caprio as the title character.

The trailer, which bowed online Tuesday night, shows a vibrant and stunningly detailed New York City as it was in the roaring 1920s. Elevated trains and the growing city skyline come to life amid white jackets, silk dresses, champagne and cigars.

Read more‘The Great Gatsby’ trailer debuts online

‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ is fun… if not laugh out loud funny

The men of 'What to Expect When You're Expecting'
The men of ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’

[rating=3]Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Brooklyn Decker, Anna Kendrick, Chace Crawford, Ben Falcone, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Rodrigo Santoro,
Director(s): Kirk Jones
Writer(s): Shauna Cross and Heather Hach, from a novel by Heidi Murkoff

Get ready for the latest ensemble film featuring notable actors all sharing the same screen.

Read more‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ is fun… if not laugh out loud funny

‘The Dictator’ is tasteless rude and offensive – and laugh out loud funny

Sasha Baron Cohen and Megan Fox in 'The Dictator'
Sasha Baron Cohen and Megan Fox in ‘The Dictator’

There’s a little “ditty” on Steve Martin’s comedy album “Let’s Get Small”.  One lyric from it is:  “Be tasteless, rude and offensive.”

That’s the formula Sacha Baron Cohen has applied in making his latest film, The Dictator.

It is terribly tasteless, ridiculously rude and obnoxiously offensive.  And the formula works like a charm.

Read more‘The Dictator’ is tasteless rude and offensive – and laugh out loud funny

‘Girl in Progress’ isn’t the good film it could have been

Cierra Ramirez in 'Girl in Progress'
Cierra Ramirez in ‘Girl in Progress’

[rating=2]Starring: Eva Mendes, Cierra Ramirez, Matthew Modine, Patricia Arquette, Raini Rodriguez, Eugenio Derbez
Director(s): Patricia Riggen
Writer(s): Hiram Martinez

“Ansiedad” is Spanish for anxiety.  It’s also the name of the daughter of “Grace” (Eva Mendes) who works jobs as a waitress at Emile’s Crab Shack and as a maid for the married gynecologist she’s having an affair with.

Read more‘Girl in Progress’ isn’t the good film it could have been

Check in to ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

[rating=3]Starring: Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel, Tena Desae
Director(s): John Madden
Writer(s): Ol Parker, from a novel by Deborah Moggach

Judi Dench stars in 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'
Judi Dench stars in ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench) is in a bit of a pickle in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Her husband has died after 40 years together and since he managed their money, she had no notion that he’d gone through most of their life’s savings and amassed enough debt that she is now going to have to sell their flat.

Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy) and his wife Jean (Penelope Wilton) are also in a financial bind.  Seems Douglas invested his entire retirement account in their daughter’s Internet start-up which failed to start.  She has promised to pay them back, but at the moment all they can afford is a small unit in a retirement community that does have handrails on the walls and a panic button in one place.  Of course, as Jean notes during their tour, it’s not very helpful unless one happens to fall within reach of the button.

Read moreCheck in to ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

‘Dark Shadows’ isn’t Johnny Depp / Tim Burton’s worst… but not best either

Eva Green shows her stuff in 'Dark Shadows'
Eva Green shows her stuff in ‘Dark Shadows’

[rating=2]Starring: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfieffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote, Jackie Earle Haley
Director(s): Tim Burton
Writer(s): Screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith, story by John August and Seth Grahame-Smith, from the TV series created by Dan Curtis

Dark Shadows, starring Johnny Depp and a cast of several under the direction of the very capable Tim Burton is the 8th collaboration between Depp and Burton.  It is certainly not the worst, but it’s much closer to that level than it is to their best (you can choose your own best, for me, it is easily Ed Wood).

Read more‘Dark Shadows’ isn’t Johnny Depp / Tim Burton’s worst… but not best either