The Dictator- a movie for the politically savvy

I was bowled over by the movie, “The Dictator”. Sacha Baron Cohen’s ventures in the past were quite amusing but I did squirm occasionally at the crassness of his humour. In his latest production, however, Baron Cohen is very impressive. His script is tighter and the acting is much better, but, for me, the most impressive trait of “The Dictator” is its acerbic satire.

This film is strictly political and if you want to enjoy it to its full potential then you have to be au fait with current affairs. It is not a children’s movie, nor is it for teenagers who are more familiar with Justin Bieber, say.

The satire revolves around the latest Arab Spring’s toying with democracy and the downfall of a few regimes. Cohen is quite ruthless about dictatorship in general and Arab and Muslim dictatorships in particular. He attacks racial prejudice and stereotyping and even the U.S cops a bit of a beating.

The main target of his satire, however, is a dictator who reminds us just a tiny bit of the former and currently defunct Libyan ruler. Baron Cohen plays the part of the dictator as if he were born for this role.

He is refreshingly politically incorrect and I have to admit that I roared with laughter many, many times and even clapped out loud. Cohen says it like it is. No spin, no BS, just the truth as many of us see it.

It felt good to have one’s feelings validated. For those of you who like a bit of romance, well, there’s even a dose of that in “The Dictator” and it’s handled in the Frank Capra style of romantic comedies.

I would honestly describe “The Dictator” as sophisticated satire. If you like politics and you like biting satire with brains, then you should not miss this film.

“Late Bloomers”-don’t waste your time and money on this film.

How can anybody in this day and age release such a stupid and embarrassing film as “Late Bloomers”? What was the writer and director Julie Gavras thinking when she made up a ridiculous story about a couple of senior citizens who are having marital differences over the theme of aging?

Think of the possibilities of such a theme. Think of its potential for humour, pathos, wisdom, inevitability of the passage of time. And you will be disappointed. The film sets your teeth on edge with its puerile references to getting older.

Can you imagine how it would feel if your partner suddenly started to rave on about old age because she was approaching 60? She begins to install disability aids in the bedroom and bathroom so that she can convince her husband that they are both aging and should prepare themselves.

For what?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Isabella Rossellini character, but she’s decided that her momentary memory lapse is due to senility. The MRI she demands shows that she’s okay. Pity there isn’t an MRI to test how annoying she is.

Anyway, the plot (I’m using the term loosely in this case) consists of her attempts to renew herself following the breakup of her marriage to a mumbling William Hurt. She has a haircut and tries to do aqua aerobics.

Her husband is still trying to be the world’s best architect and he is sick of his wife’s stupid antics. Aren’t we all! So he takes up some secret scheme to design a museum instead of designing a retirement home.

Get the message? I mean it’s really, really deep here. He don’t wanna get old!

They are surrounded by several older people such as the feisty mother played by Doreen Mantle (Mrs Warboys in “One foot in the Grave”) and even good old Leslie Phillips. Even Joanna Lumley has a role. She does the usual Joanna Lumley spiel and I’m always fond of her.

But nothing can save this idiotic set-up. William Hurt is totally miscast and must have been in need of the money when he accepted the role. Isabella is no Ingrid Bergman. She lacks her mother’s talent.

And as for Julie Gavras, writer, director and daughter of the famous film director, Costa-Gavras, I can only shake my head in dismay.

So why did I go to see it, you ask? Well, it was 38 degrees in Melbourne yesterday. Boiling hot here and we had had our long walk in the morning at Chadstone Shopping Valhalla (air conditioned, undercover) so we thought that a movie without violence or spies or coming to terms with your sexuality would be pleasant entertainment on such a scorching day.

It wasn’t.

Film Critics should study the History of Cinema

It amazes me how film and TV critics reveal their lack of knowledge of the medium. They come out in praise of ancient filming techniques as if these were innovations.

Take “The Social Network” as an example of this.

I had to laugh when a film critic by the name of Adam Kamien actually described the use of actor, Armie Hammer, in a dual role of identical twins, the Winklevoss brothers, as “a stroke of genius.” This is hardly new nor is it a stroke of genius. Does anyone remember “The Patty Duke Show” (1963-1966)? It’s a very old and common device in movie production.

Personally, I picked that it was a dual role as soon as I saw the Winklevosses on the screen and no, I had not looked up the cast before going to the movie theatre.

The Social Network movie- a big yawn

Had it not been for the ABC’s “At The Movies” high rating for this film, I would not have thought of going to see it. However, when a film about the founder of Facebook receives a high five from a critic like David Stratton, then I am persuaded to give it a go. David had said that he had not expected to like “The Social Network” but was pleasantly surprised. I, on the other hand, expected to like this film because of his review but was very disappointed.

Why? Well, it seemed disjointed and poorly scripted. The main actor who played Mark Zuckerberg, was excellent. But the other actors resembled caricatures, monofaceted and so many of them overacted. It is not easy to make a story of a young man’s rise to fame and fortune tedious, but this film managed to do it.

We should have been fascinated by this “genius” but he seemed like he was just playing in the lost children’s section of Toys R US. Poor little hacker…

I found myself looking at my watch to see how long there is to go. There were some noisy coke (as in cocaine) scenes. The portrayal of young women in the film was abysmal. They all seemed to be rather sluttish, apart from the one who had broken Zuckerberg’s heart and sent him on the road to billions.

It was a rather sad and confusing movie which had much potential in the beginning but which failed to deliver. Having said all this, I realise that other reviews have been favourable and my opinion is not that of the majority.

I would even go so far as to admit that had I been watching “The Social Network” at home on TV I would have switched channels after the first dreary half hour, but you know how it is, I had paid for my movie ticket and by George I was going to get my money’s worth of suffering lol.

Tony Curtis made me do a double take last week

Many of us remember how good looking and affable Tony Curtis was. He was a mega film star in his day and with his passing last week we lost another great from the Golden Years of Hollywood.

No matter how successful Curtis was he never forgot his humble Bronx roots and that was part of his charm.

I did a double take when I read that he was buried with a copy of “Anthony Adverse.” For some reason I got the notion that “Anthony Adverse” had been written by Henry Fielding, the Eighteenth Century novelist responsible for “Joseph Andrews” and “Tom Jones.”

Well, it did sound like the sort of thing that Fielding would have written. It could even have been the work of Samuel Richardson, perhaps. Imagine my surprise that Tony Curtis would have chosen to be buried with a copy of an English Eighteenth Century classic!

I was amazed and very impressed to have learned of this facet of Tony Curtis’s character. I mean, not only was Tony a hunk but he was also an intellectual! I practically swooned. He wasn’t just a pretty face.

I decided to google “Anthony Adverse”……….

Nick D’Arcy gets a slap on the wrist for assault

Once again Australian courts have let us down. Nick D’Arcy, who viciously aussalted a fellow swimmer and damaged his face for life has been let off jail. Why? Because he’s a sportsman and in Australia all is forgiven if you are a sportsman. So D’Arcy, who’s no example to young people, is going to be turned into some kind of hero if he wins a race. I suspect it wouldn’t matter if he murdered someone as long as he can swim for Australia. Continue reading

“Gran Torino”– why I enjoyed this movie

I enjoyed “Gran Torino” on a very basic level. I liked its ending.

Even though it’s meant to take place in an urban setting in Michigan, it is essentially a good old-fashioned western. Solitary hero, Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), suffering from tragedies in the past, is fed up with humanity but comes good at the end and saves the day. There are goodies and baddies, and the goodies win, just the way, Eastwood and the rest of us would like it to be. I am calling the hero Eastwood because it’s Classic Eastwood we are watching. Continue reading