First World Silly, Third World Smart

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that sadly many Americans have a superior attitude about us vs third world countries. But let me tell you, my weekend movie experiences would shatter this myth for anyone with an ounce of intelligence.

First, I saw the super tardy Rochester premiere of 2009’s Iranian film “About Elly” by Asghar Farhadi. I really liked two of his other films: “A Separation” and “The Past”. “About Elly” may have trumped both, both is acting and suspense. If you are a Netflix customer, run, don’t walk to your queue and add this film.

Without any spoilers, let me just say it’s a film about four Iranian couples who go on a weekend to the beach together. While all of the acting was phenomenal, I will make a special mention for Golshifteh Farahani,, who plays the most pivotal female role of Sepideh. Nuances of the Iranian culture are gorgeously portrayed and the uncomfortable moments carry acute verisimilitude.

On the other hand (cue Yankee Doodle Dandy), I also saw “The Martian”. Ugh. I love Matt Damon and he stretched the most out of the cotton candy plot. But shame on him and all the other first rate actors for doing absolute schlock. Literally Jeff Daniels phoned in his role and I think Dumb and Dumber Too truly took more acting chops.

I will definitely join any picket line protesting the lack of African-Americans nominated because both Straight Outta Compton and Dope are FAR (yes capital letters) superior to the ra ra shallow American “The Martian”.

A Three Way: Steve Jobs, Burnt, Truth

Michael Fassbender

Perhaps my subject line could have been one phrase: Steve Jobs’ Burnt Truth? Did Jobs scorch the truth?

Steve Jobs: I don’t know about who ‘didn’t start the fire'(Billy Joel reference), but I will say that once again, Michael Fassbender certainly has an arsenal of acting ability. He’s already thrilled me in Twelve Years a Slave and Shame (not to mention his sweet vulnerability in Frank). Now he makes the life of Steve Jobs seem human, rather than super human. Kate Winslet, yet another acting powerhouse (favorite performance The Reader), plays down her beauty as Jobs’ scrupulous, yet extremely patient assistant.

Everyone goes ga-ga over Seth Rogen and he is good, but just as intense were Micahel Stuhlbarg (check out his IMDB photo-he either identifies as a thin man who just does chunkier roles or he has body dysmorphia-no judgment, just an observation); and Jeff Daniels (favorite movie Something Wild).
Recommendation go see it, in my top 10 this year by a long shot.

Burnt: Just as Iran is half the world away, so is Burnt to Steve Jobs. Talk about a Food Channel meets MTV video masquerading as a full length film! Schmaltzy, disjointed, shallow, Bradley Cooper does a bad Clint Eastwood Tough Cowboy, who instead of a holster carries an apron full of knives. To clarify, no violence, but that tough “I’ve been through ‘hell’ exterior and have only skin deep feelings for women due to the nihilistic life I must lead”.

Truth? Not much better, flat script. Make us care about Mary Mapes, instead portraying her as a frigid workaholic. Topher Grace and Elisabeth Moss have embarrassing little to do and Dennis Quaid’s major purpose was gesturing a perfect salute. I love Cate Blanchett (odd favorite: “The Adventures of Steve Zissou”), but the aforementioned job fixation mixed with the melodrama just seemed to age her despairingly so.

J. Schwartzman: “I Kissed a Guy and I Liked…”

“The Overnight” didn’t meet my unrealistic expectations. I was hoping for something akin to Demme’s “Something Wild”, but except for Jason Schwartzman who makes the best semi real comically kooky man since Woody Allen, this film was more like couples therapy than comedy.

What was missing was a little more slapstick which I rarely encourage. If anything,this movie did not change my single person’s opinion. I didn’t go running from the cinema saying, ‘let’s get married!’. In fact the film confirmed how claustrophobic and dysfunctional the institution can be. How many white and black lies must be chiseled in order to keep things harmonious.

What does the movie do well besides show case Schwartzman’s zaniness? Well, Adam Scott has a future in serious roles. And in true 20-teens fashion, the film broke new ground in minutes of full frontal male nudity.

But still I liked Jeff Daniels’ 1986 goofy reunion dancing better.

Something Wild remains victorious