MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (Simon Curtis, 2011)

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A lot had been said about Michelle Williams’ performance as Marilyn Monroe. I just have to say that it was a damn fine impersonation as it should be because this movie didn’t really offer anything new about the subject.

All I learned was that Marilyn’s disturbed, always forgot her lines, dependent on drugs, oftentimes horny, completely fragile, and yet a great actress. It was something probably everyone already knew (or you could read from a second-rate biography).

The tacked-on love story involving the narrator and a lost Emma Watson further diverted the plot from its star. I was thankful to see Dame Judi Dench (never losing her brilliance even for a second) and Kenneth Branagh providing strong support. This movie succeeded as an acting showcase, but completely failed as a biopic.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 2, 2012.)

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (Sean Durkin, 2011)

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Let me just say that the less you know about this movie, the better it gets. It’s an engaging psychological thriller that’s buoyed by a superb performance from Elizabeth Olsen. With its seamless transitions from past to present, it grips you by the throat and messes up your brain. That bummer of an ending perfectly capped the movie. What a nice surprise!

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 12, 2012.)

WAR HORSE (Steven Spielberg, 2011)

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People usually hated the gooey sentimentality of Spielberg’s movies. This one took sappiness to a whole a new level that my constant eye-rolling almost triggered a seizure. Besides, on my cuteness scale, horses belonged in the lowest tier of animals.

Like any Spielberg flick, this was technically good (except for the overblown John Williams score) and it was almost bearable enough to merit a viewing.

Oscar nominee for Best Picture? Really?! I suggest he stay away from animals and not make another war movie in this decade.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 7, 2012.)

J. EDGAR (Clint Eastwood, 2011)

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It was hard to take a biopic seriously when you could still see Leonardo DiCaprio behind all that latex. And I couldn’t just blame the bad make-up.

Leo was slowly becoming the biggest ham actor of his generation. He seemed to be desperately gunning for an Oscar with every acting trick he had learned working with great directors.

Sadly, not even Clint Eastwood or the weak material could save this movie from being a complete bore.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 1, 2012.)

HAYWIRE (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)

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You’d be surprised that with all the talented people in front of and behind the camera, the end result was this self-indulgent mess.

Soderbergh still owed me money for his coma-inducing Contagion and he had finally cured my insomnia with this one.

Gina Carano could probably kick my ass anytime but she was in the same acting league as Rosie Huntington-Whitely.

This was a complete WTF movie.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published February 1, 2012.)

WE BOUGHT A ZOO (Cameron Crowe, 2011)

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A sweet little movie that didn’t offer much to its audience, making it a big disappointment for Crowe fans (myself included). I expected the screenplay to be meatier and smarter and yet the title was mentioned about three times in its duration. Although based on another unbelievable true story, a lot of the emotions felt fake and corny.

Matt Damon was moving as the father in grief, Thomas Haden Church stole most of his scenes, and Elle Fanning showcased more than what’s required of her character.

Overall, it was a harmless, lightweight dramedy for all ages.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published January 19, 2012.)

WARRIOR (Gavin O’Connor, 2011)

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It’s that rare triumph of the spirit sports movie that’s completely predictable yet remarkably engaging. Although you know where the movie’s headed, you still remain glued on this story of two brothers duking it out physically and emotionally inside and outside of the ring. Imagine Rocky with two protagonists set in the mixed martial arts scene. Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom) gives another fearless performance opposite the menacing Tom Hardy (Inception). Nick Nolte provides excellent support as their self-destructive father (where’s the love awards bodies?). This is a thrilling action movie that wears its fragile heart on its sleeve.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published January 17, 2012.)

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS (Guy Ritchie, 2011)

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Before Zack Snyder, the master of style-over-substance was Guy Ritchie and he didn’t disappoint in this far superior sequel.

Robert Downey, Jr. (one of the most consistent actors of this generation) could play a bookshelf or a chair and still manage to shine in any scene. Jude Law helped create much-needed sexual tension/chemistry making the movie an enjoyable ride.

The only disappointment was Noomi Rapace who looked lost among the boys.

Still, this was one of those good popcorn movies better suited in the summer.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published January 11, 2012.)