- Truth may or may not be stranger than fiction, but it can be
just as interesting. And it certainly can make for good
three movies reviewed below were all inspired by actual
happenings. Reality-based, in other words; but to what extent
may be anybody’s guess.
Mr. Banks” opens Friday. “American Hustle” opened on
Wednesday and “Philomena” debuted the day before
Thanksgiving. For showings, visit www.marcustheaters.com.
by David O. Russell, 138 minutes, R): “American Hustle” is
one of its most entertaining aspects is the background
music, including 1970s hits by the Bee Gees, Chicago and more.
will see a virtually bloodless and often humorous crime drama
- remindful in ways of the sanguine “Goodfellas” - with
excellent performances by the likes of Christian Bale and Amy
Adams (who play an unhappily married couple). It’s a story
grounded in the FBI’s ABSCAM sting
of the late ‘70s.
point made by the picture worth pondering: Law enforcement
types can be as unsavory as the outlaws (politicians and
otherwise) they pursue. And less concerned about the public.
And less likable. (Given “J. Edgar” in 2011, “Dallas
Buyers Club” earlier in 2013 and this flick, the FBI has
taken its cinematic licks of late.)
York’s film critics have anointed “American Hustle”
their film of the year. It’s a good movie, but a good movie
in a year of good movies, and I wouldn’t recommend
“American Hustle” over at least two or three others.
I’d definitely recommend it.
by John Lee Hancock, 120 minutes, PG-13): This movie has a
lovely score, hummable - a rarity these days - even after one
has left the theater.
are two distinct story lines (one is tempted to label them
“medicine” and “spoonful of sugar”) - and this is
problematic. “Saving Mr. Banks” is at once a comedy set in
the 1960s, about Disney, his underlings and their troubles
with Travers as they attempt to bring her creation to the big
screen. The film is also a cheerless drama, circa 1906, about
the author’s childhood with a mother at the end of her rope
due to a father’s alcoholism. When dad (Colin Farrell) and
daughter (cute as a button Annie Rose Buckley) go out for ice
cream, she consumes the cone and he drinks the sauce.
acting of Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins creator P.L. Travers,
Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Paul Giamatti as a chauffeur in
Disney’s employ are also highlights.
less of the flashback technique could still have sufficiently
explained Travers’ surliness and hypersensitivity in middle
age. More consistency in mood would’ve made this good movie
left the theater curious about what the movie left out (the
long ‘06-’61 portion of Travers’ life) and wondering why
the actress playing the real-life model for Mary Poppins makes
no more than a cameo appearance.
“gravitas,” “iconic” and “no problemo” just
weren’t words you heard spoken in Kennedy-era America.
by Stephen Frears, 94 minutes, PG-13):
Based on Martin Sixsmith’s book “The Lost Child of
Philomena Lee,” this British film tells of its title
character’s search for the son she gave up for adoption some
50 years earlier.
had become pregnant as an unwed teen in Ireland and had then
been sent to a home for wayward girls that might’ve come
straight from the pages of Charles Dickens. The nuns who ran
the place required that the young mothers sign away parental
rights. The sisters subsequently formalized the transfer
process via business arrangements with would-be moms and dads,
many of them well-heeled Americans.
enough can be said in praise of the acting of Dame Judi Dench
as “Phil” and Steve Coogan (also co-writer of the
screenplay) as Sixsmith. Out of work, and out of favor in some
quarters, after tenures as a BBC journalist and a political
spokesperson, Sixsmith accepts an invitation to write about
Phil’s search. He is, in fact, able to streamline the search
through research proficiency and tricks of the journalistic
thought of him every day,” Phil tells Sixsmith of her
Anthony, adopted away as a toddler. Phil is a marvelous
character - a simple woman, yet one with a deep, enduring
faith and a remarkable capacity for kindness (even to members
of the order the often deadpan Sixsmith derides as “the
Sisters of Little Mercy”).
the unlikely team of sweet old lady and jaundiced sophisticate
writer successful in its quest? The answer has to be yes and
for the movie, it’s an unqualified success. All the way.
3 1/2 stars