AMERICAN ULTRA

This could have been good. I loved the setup and the back story, but the execution is so over the top that it overcame by considerable powers for suspension of disbelief. (Yes, I know it’s a spoof of sorts, but even a spoof has to maintain an internal logic, whacked though it may be.) I didn’t use the FF button because the film kept getting crazier and crazier and I wanted to see how far wrong it could go. (It went very, very wrong.)

FF=0

THE MARTIAN

Space geek that I am. I loved this movie. I had my doubts as it began — with an atmosphere of less than 1% of Earth’s, you can’t have an Arabia-style sandstorm on Mars. There just ain’t enough air to do any damage. But since it was a single incident necessary to set up the plot, I let it go and sat back and enjoyed the show. From there on it was a gripping tale of man against the elements. Sure, Watney has lots of grit and guts, but he also has a brain which he puts to use. This film is a testimony to critical thinking: Okay, we have a problem; lets step back, look it over, break it down into pieces, and start solving it bit by bit. Watney doesn’t emote toward solutions, he thinks toward them. So do the folks back home on Earth. So do his fellow crew members.

But I’m still trying to figure how it won in the comedy category? It had a couple of funny lines, but it’s NOT a comedy.

FF=0

THE INTERN

If you called this film vapid, sappy, cutesy, cliched, and totally devoid of dramatic tension, I wouldn’t ague with you. But the chemistry between DeNiro and Hathaway is so engaging, you sit there and drink it in. A total feel-good film.

FF=0

THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (2009)

This is the original Argentinian version (recently remade with the same title sans the initial article). It shifts back and forth between the present and past as a Buenos Ares ex-investigator probes an old rape-murder that was solved but never fully resolved. (I won’t say more than that about the plot.) Because it’s a procedural, the pace is, shall we say, deliberate. But you don’t mind because the performances and direction are so on the mark. A good story, well told, with a wrenching denouement.

FF=0

PAN

I’m not saying I enjoyed this simply to be contrarian. I truly did. Perhaps all the bad reviews made me expect a bomb but Pan turned out to be spirited fun. I didn’t recognize Jackman as Blackbeard, nor Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily. One fly in the proverbial ointment was the portrayal of James Hook. I can buy him being a good guy and Peter’s ally in the past (an interesting twist, in fact) but trying to make him an Indiana Jones/Han Solo clone (even down to the nick-of-time return after a supposed desertion) did not work. Wrong actor, perhaps. Too dark for little kids, however.

FF=1