Time now to continue my heartwarming mini-reviews of the screeners I’ve received from Oscar, DGA, and WGA award contenders. When we last met on this playing field, I reported on 5 films, only one of which my wife, Gwen the Beautiful, and I disliked little enough to watch all the way through. Here’s how the next 4 fared:
PROMISED LAND Both Gwen and I wanted to like this film. First, because it stars and was co-written by Matt Damon & John Krasinski (and Frances McDormand’s here too), and I’ve always liked Matt and Frances both as people and as actors. Second, because my son is President of Production at Focus Features, which is PROMISED LAND’s producing/distributing angel. Unfortunately, Gwen didn’t make it past the 38-minute mark, and I made coffee, let the dogs out to do their business, drank the coffee, and brought the dogs back in when they were done while trying to make myself watch the rest. Back in the ’70s, on a show I wrote called MEDICAL STORY, we did crusading stories like this every week, and all of them were more interesting than this film because – sorry, Matt & John, when we did this kind of thing it was new. Now both the story and I are sadly antiquated and predictable.
Gwen wasn’t interested, so I watched this alone. For about 10 minutes. The opening is like a slightly more intense version of the TV show ER its first season. Pediatrician George Clooney – oops, sorry, airline pilot Denzel Washington – wakes up after a night of crazy drinking and sex, sobers himself up with cocaine…and inasmuch as I didn’t feel one thing for the guy and the dogs wanted to go out again, I turned the DVD off and never remembered to turn it back on.
THE HOBBIT – AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
I genuinely enjoyed every minute of this film and did, in fact, watch all 5000 minutes of it. Okay, so it was “only” 2 1/2 hours long. Believe me when I say it felt a lot longer. Also believe me when I say that I also genuinely hated every minute. Because to me this wasn’t THE HOBBIT. This was some generic prequel to LORD OF THE RINGS. And that’s far from the same thing. Oh, we watched this with Oscar, our 8-year-old child genius neighbor and his family. At the 35 minute mark, Oscar turned to me with what’s got to be the kiss of death for any film based on a children’s book. “Larry,” he said, “this movie isn’t engaging my interest at all. Do you mind if I go outside and play with the dogs?”
In a word: Garbage. Gwen was gone by minute 7. I stuck around for 25 minutes more thinking this piece of junk would turn into something more than a lo-ong trailer for a book I’ve never read and, now, never will read. Maybe it all comes together at the end, but none of the non-scenes at the beginning made me want to find out. Total trash.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Ahh. Everyone in the room watched this one all the way through and thoroughly enjoyed it – even the dogs. Bradley Cooper completely won me over, totally believable in the kind of part that Adam Sandler has thoroughly destroyed over the years. And Jennifer Lawrence was my dream date of dream dates. In fact, Lawrence and Cooper reminded me so much of Gwen the Beautiful and myself that I giggled crazily at even the serious parts. I know it’s just another romcom following the numbers, but, man, it hit each one perfectly, reinvigorating the format and, well, me too. A screener deserving Oscar accolades, at last!
I still have more DVDs to watch, with LINCOLN ensconced at the top. So brace yourselves for another nail-biting go-round.
Every year in December the major studios send out DVDs of the films they’re pushing for Oscars, Directors Guild, and Writers Guild of America awards. So far this year I’ve received somewhere between 15 and 20 of them. Why haven’t I counted before writing this? That would take more effort than I can expend right now. Mainly because I’m already exhausted from the task of turning on my DVD player, inserting the disks, and getting them to play properly.
Last night, for example, it took me an hour and a half to just get my 2 year old Magnavox DVD player to power up. That’s 5 minutes of sitting on the living room couch and pointing the remote at it and swearing when nothing happened, 10 minutes of standing at the machine and pushing the standby/on switch and swearing nothing happened, another 5 minutes of unplugging and replugging and jiggling and knocking (pronounced “Ka-nocking” the way my father used to say it), 69 minutes of scouring the interwebs looking for the right user manual and other online advice, and 1 last glorious minute of “rebooting” (yes, I too thought that was only a computer thing) the %&#@ player by unplugging it, pressing the standby/on switch and holding it in as I plugged again.
Sorry, but that effort and its result do not qualify for any reaction resembling “Voila!”read article