Mike Kueber's Blog

May 11, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies #25 – The Iron Lady, Crimes & Misdemeanors, and The Avengers

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 7:16 pm
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The Iron Lady is a 2011 biographical film on British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who served in Britain while Ronald Reagan reigned in America.  The movie consists of an elderly Thatcher, played by Meryl Streep, afflicted with dementia having a series of flashbacks to her earlier life and career.   Those flashbacks reveal a bright, idealistic conservative who evolved into an imperious, aloof ruler who was eventually pushed aside by her own party.  Although Steep won an Academy Award for Best Actress, the film scored only 54% with Rotten Tomato critics and 52% with its viewers.  I think those rating are too high.  Because the movie was centered on a time when Thatcher was senile, the viewer is left with that as the dominant part of Thatcher’s life instead of the time when she was successful on the world stage and accomplished her life’s objectives.  Unless, of course, the filmmaker’s objective was to show how little her accomplishments meant in the end.  The one endearing aspect of the movie was Thatcher’s relationship with her husband Denis.  Theirs was truly a lifetime (and beyond) love story.  I give the movie only one star out of four.

Crimes & Misdemeanors is a 1989 Woody Allen black comedy.   It scored 92% with the Rotten Tomato critics and 90% with its audience, and I agree with those high ratings.  It has an excellent ensemble cast with Martin Landau, Alan Alda, Mia Farrow, Sam Waterston & Jerry Orbach from Law & Order, Anjelica Houston, and Woody Allen.  Allen received two Academy Award nominations – directing and screenplay – and Landau was nominated as a supporting actor.  The only troubling aspect of the film is that it contains two separate stories that appear to have no connection except one incidental character – a rabbi.  The first story focuses on Martin Landau’s character, a pillar-of-the-community ophthalmologist who has an affair with someone akin to Fatal Attraction.  The other story focuses on the Woody Allen character, who is a loser who aspires to an affair with a surprisingly attractive Mia Farrow, akin to There’s Something About Mary.  Each story is interesting, especially the Allen/Farrow romance, but I can’t detect any connection other than the rabbi (Sam Waterston), who is Allen’s brother-in-law and Landau’s patient.   Plus, as a black comedy, the movie is thought-provoking, but doesn’t end in a way that a romantic like me prefers.  I give the movie two and a half stars out of four – two stars for the Landau story and three stars for the Allen story.

The Avengers opened last weekend to a record North American box office in excess of $200 million and near universal praise – 93% from the Rotten Tomato critics and 96% from its audience.  Count me in the minority.  I’m not a fan of action movies, but I can be completely drawn in by the romance – e.g., Independence Day, Armageddon, Die Hard, Troy, Braveheart, Gladiator, etc.  To my disappointment, there is no romance in this movie, with Scarlett Johansson wasted as the Black Widow Natasha Romanoff.  But according to my date, who loves action movies, this one is top-notch, so I will give it two stars out of four.

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