Not Ready For Prime Time
Movies released early in the calendar year usually are not prime Oscar
material, but it’s not at all unusual to see the half-baked, the formulaic,
the quirky, and the off-key. And
sometimes you can’t tell one from the other.
“From Paris, With Love” features two veteran actors who enjoy their
turn at becoming bulletproof. Jonathan
Rhys Meyers plays James Reece, the low-level CIA operative, stationed in
. He thinks he’s going to do
some light translation work, and maybe a little chauffeuring, for a “real”
operative. John Travolta plays
Charlie Wax, a swaggering, abrasive, shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later kind
of renegade investigator, and now Reece gets a real education, including
learning to trust no one, not even his beautiful girlfriend Caroline (Kasia
Smutniak). It’s violent and
gritty, and none of the primary characters are exactly charming.
” is a romantic comedy that also forgets to make its main characters
charming. Kristen Bell plays
Beth, who’s in Rome for her friend’s wedding, and picks up coins from the
famous fountain, not realizing it’s enchanted, and the guys who had casually
dropped those coins are now under a spell:
madly in love with her. Well,
so is Nick (Josh Duhamel), but she can’t tell the difference between his
sincere affection and the creepy stalking of the others.
But somehow they forget to make her winsome enough for us to want to
root for her to find true romance, anyway.
In “Frozen,” three skiers get stranded on a chairlift, suspended
high above the frozen landscape. The
actors aren’t famous, and the dialogue isn’t as captivating as it could
be, given the tight quarters and the limited cast.
But, perhaps because we don’t know them, it feels real.
They don’t seem to be faking it, or “playing a part” at all.
In some places this is even grisly, but probably all ski resorts would
like to ban it. It makes the
potential danger that frightening.
John of Las Vegas” feels like an Elmore Leonard novel.
We’re slumming with the seedy characters, the
something-less-than-respectable hustlers who seem to never consider anything
resembling morality. Everybody is
governed by their whims, it’s just that some are more clever at coldly
cashing in on the heartfelt passions of others.
Steve Buscemi, the king of creep, plays John, a lonely man addicted to
gambling, except stupidly: playing
scratch-off games at convenience stores, with occasional casino blackjack.
They take his money quickly, and he’s done, left only with his
regrets. He actually holds down a
job, a little clerical position with an obscure insurance company.
But they send him out with Virgil (Romany Malco), a fraud investigator
whose sole responsibility is to make sure that the company won’t be liable
for the claim. (They assume that everyone else is just as dishonest as they
are.) John dreams about coming to
the front during a worship service, where he’s “seized in the Spirit”
through the laying on of hands of…..Virgil?
And his new girlfriend is Sarah Silverman, obsessed with smiling faces?
And he argues with a grizzled old nudist rifleman that his cowboy hat
makes him overdressed? Yeah, a
bizarre sense of humor, to say the least.
Four obscure movies, none Oscar-worthy, all hoping only to recoup
production costs, while we all wait for something better.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace