A feature-length movie that feels like it should have been a six-minute short. It goes on and on, repeating the same themes, cycling between the same moods and character states. The actors - Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, and Christoph Waltz - are all solid; these are four of the most talented people working in movies today. But they're wasted in an uninteresting, limited story. Some Roman Polanski directing trademarks are there; but we get none of his thrill, mystery, or sinisterness. It is only regretful that the same director with the same actors could have done something truly great, given a different screenplay.
By the way, Polanski is one of my favorite directors yet I don't think I've ever written about any of his films. Among my favorites are Repulsion, Chinatown, and Rosemary's Baby. All absolute classics.
Steven Soderbergh latest offering, Haywire, features a real-life female martial arts fighter named Gina Carano. She's a talented ass-kicker who isn't faking it - she does her own stunts and it's clear that even though it's a movie, she could in reality strangle a man to death (unlike the many other females who play spies or physically strong women and are utterly unconvincing but look good swinging punches). The direction and pace are typical Soderbergh. But there is no story. Absolutely no story, at all. There's a woman and her revenger plot - it's all very straightforward and filled with some good looking men, including a cold and intense Michael Fassbender and a smooth-talking but equally intense Channing Tatum. I'm sure Ms. Carano had some fun making this movie, as it also seemed totally effortless. What acting? There is no acting here or storytelling here; just flashiness, fight moves, and some chases. There's not even suspense to be found, as we know she'll escape every precarious situation and track down the men who tried to frame her. I'm not sure I could justify seeing this. But if seeing Carano beating people up entices you, then go ahead.
My Week with Marilyn
A waste of a movie, especially considering the potentially interesting subject mater: a woman as dynamic and controversial as Marilyn Monroe. Michelle Williams does a fine job trying to "become" Ms. Monroe, but the only thought I really had while watching her was that I'd really rather be watching Marilyn herself, in one of her great roles (Seven Year Itch, for example). The movie doesn't tell any kind of real story; it follows a simple, young man as he embarks on a very brief affair with the object of his naive desire. What's new here? It's just a PG-13 male fantasy. The supporting characters are dull and one-dimensional, and the story is flat, without anything new to say or a different way of saying the same thing. Williams captures bits and pieces of the actress, such as her flirtatious humor and ease with self-display; but has none of her real magnetism or charm, not to mention extraordinary beauty. The movie isn't worth much at all; watching is patiently waiting for the credits to roll. This was the unimpressive directorial debut of Simon Curtis, whose previous credits involve mostly television.