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Jul. 14 2012

To Rome with Love, Prometheus, Savages

By Burt Shapiro | Posted in Movie Reviews | No Comments

Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love measures up to most of his output since “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  It is romantically sweet with a few real laughs and quickly forgotten.  As usual, a great cast including Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page read lines that sound like Allen playing all the parts, another of his specialties.  Four discrete plots play out, especially Benigni’s as everyman who is picked randomly for the spotlight only to be suddenly ignored.

 

Ridley Scott’s career took off with “Alien” (1979), a low budget, very deceptively simple—a corporate ploy for a mining ship to bring back a space creature.  Forty-three years later, a robot scientist is still the only one with the answers in Prometheus, a so-called prequel.  Here, the plot is busier and we learn that the corporation has become the military and the question concerns the source of humanity, the end of humanity on Earth, and the presence of God. Noomi Rapace stars as Elizabeth Shaw, Sigourney Weaver’s updated Ripley.  Of course there is the crew, some aware, the old industrialist and his daughter (Charlize Theron).  It’s all quite interesting, especially if you are a fan of “Alien” and don’t mind a bit of redundancy.  

 

With Savages, Oliver Stone has turned his eye to the drug trade on the Baja border.  Ben and Chon want to be left alone with their girlfriend O, selling home-grown, world-class marijuana, Of course, there is the usual cartel that wants what they have.  O is kidnapped by the powerful boss-lady Elena and chief gun Lado, while DEA agent,  Dennis,  looks to profit from all sides. Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Selma Hayak, Benicio Del Toro and John Travolta are superb in this violent film.  It’s not as ebullient as some other Stone films but quite compelling.

 

On DVD and blu-ray is The Grapes of Wrath, the classic Great Depression drama starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford from the John Steinbeck novel.  One of THE great films.

 

Memorable as one of the finest psychological sci-fi thrillers is the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Kevin McCarthy.  The blu-ray is stunning and the chills remain.

 

Singin’ in the Rain is another new issue and it is recommended that it be watched 20 or 30 times for it’s score, cast, direction, art direction and humor.  Singin’ is as entertaining as it gets.

 

Burt Shapiro

About

Burt Shapiro has seen 11,000 different films ranging from Calamity Jane and Rear Window (when originally released, at the Crest and the Uptown in Baltimore) through Orphens of the Storm to Sound of My Voice and back again. He continued to pursue his interests while achieving lousy grades in high school and as an undergraduate at Maryland. While living and working in New York, he was accepted by the NYU School of Cinema Studies. It was when the screening room was over the Fillmore East on Second Avenue and in William Everson’s living room, a locale for the very hard core. He watched hardly ever seen films before VHS, Beta, laser disc, DVD and blu ray. His time in New York also gave him a life shattering shock when a Saturday Museum of Modern Art screening of A Condemned Man Escapes offered his most electric moment. Applause shattered the silence before “Fin” even filled the screen. The same can be said about his toddler granddaughter, Sophie, when she picks up the microphone to sing.

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