New Releases for 12/07/12
The Hobbit too detailed, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel fascinates
The Hobbit (PG-13)
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom
Directed by: Peter Jackson
I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit when I was in junior high, and I recall it as a rollicking adventure filled with humor, wizardry, Norse-style gnomes, elves and trolls, and some quite bloody fight scenes. There was also a magical gold ring of invisibility to be stolen from a very hungry dragon. The title character is Bilbo Baggins, a halfling Hobbit who is perfectly content to live in The Shire, put his furry feet up at the end of the day, and smoke a pipe or two. I enjoyed the detail of how Bilbo’s home was constructed, of how he likes to wet his finger before turning the page of a book, and how many puffs it takes to get his pipe to draw correctly. In the attempt to make a billion dollars out of his newest voyage to Middle Earth, Peter Jackson decided long ago to do two things—and the results are mixed. First, he would make this book into three films. Second, he would film it in 3-D at 48-frames-per-second. He made the film longer than necessary by focusing on all the little details in the book and giving “barely mentioned-in-passing” characters (like Gandolf’s nature-loving brother) several minutes of screen time. The 48-frames technology means that everything our brains process is much more detailed, so the Hobbit-hole architecture, damp-fingered page turning and careful pipe lighting are shown in meticulous visual detail. Initially, the “look what we can do” aspect of all this technology drowns the story, but once the quest begins, (about an hour in), things roll right along. In the end, it’s too long, but the bits with Gollum—sixty years younger and even more devious—are worth the price of admission.
3 pieces of it doesn’t need to be three long movies toast
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (PG-13)
Starring: Diana Vreeland, George Plimpton, Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, Ali McGraw
Directed By: Bent-Jorgan Perlmutt, Frederic Tcheng, Lisa Immorodino Vreeland
You may not know Diana Vreeland’s name, but as revealed in this documentary, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue artfully shaped how American’s dressed, lived, and were entertained for over five decades. With the decided advantage of having one of the directors be Vreeland’s granddaughter-in-law, we have access to some engaging archival material. We also get to hear directly from world-class designers, models, writers, and movie stars. As a result, we learn that Vreeland not only showcased “new”models like Lauren Bacall, Twigggy, and Verushka, but also championed Andy Warhol, and advised Jackie Kennedy on her wardrobe.
3 and 1/2 pieces of fashion history toast
NEW DVD RELEASES
Ice Age: Continental Drift (PG-13)
Starring the voices of : Ray Romano, John Legizamo, Wanda Sykes, Denis Leary, Jeremy Renner
Directed by: Steve Martino, Michael Thurmeir
I wonder how many of the kids returning to school this Fall told their science teachers that Scat the Squirrel caused the continents to move and create the globe we know so well. This animated series is famous for its pseudo science and the inaccuracies continue with primate pirates piloting icebergs. it’s all fun and games though, as a bunch of new voices like Nicki Minaj and J-Lo add their talent to the action-fueled sight-gags.
3 pieces of a lovable, familiar characters return toast
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Joel McHale, Giovinni Ribisi. and the voice of Seth MacFarlane
Directed by: Seth MacFarlane
The talented Seth MacFarlane wrote, directed and has the title role in a film about an obscene talking (and acting) teddy bear. Since MacFarlane does the same thing for the animated TV series The Family Guy, the voice and humor (scatological, non-PC jokes about bodily functions, ethnic backgrounds, and familial relationships) are quite similar. The story is that a lonely boy wished upon a star 20 years ago, his favorite toy came alive and a stint on Johnny Carson’s late night show made the duo stars. Still living on the residual fame, the guy is older but hardly grown up, and the bear has become a slightly ratty, boozing, toking, womanizer. Add to this mix a long-suffering girl friend who tells the guy it is time to “grow up,” and “put away childish things,” and you have a film with a thousand one-liners and a pretty big heart.
3 pieces of a grown up (R-rated) teddy bear toast
The Bourne Legacy (PG-13)
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Joan Allen, Albert Finney, Stacy Keatch
Directed By: Jeff Kinney
Paul Greenglass, who directed Bourne #2 and #3 quipped that #4 should be called “The Bourne Redundancy,” but he forgot that the franchise is reaching the $1 billion mark in box office sales, so a sequel seems almost inevitable. Cleverly adverised with the tag line, “There never was just one…” Jeremy Renner replaces Matt Damon as another pre-programmed man-on-the-run, and he has been written with a more complex genetic manipulation and a blue pill and green pill dependency. But the story is just a framework for all the whiz-bang action sequences in the Alaskan wilderness, Maryland laboratory, and a Philippine pharmaceutical manufacturing plant. Great with popcorn and a cold drink
3 pieces of Jason Bourne replaced by Aaron Cross toast