Mike Kueber's Blog

January 30, 2015

Saturday Night at the Movies #139 – Boyhood, American Sniper, and Death at Pemberley

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 3:24 am
Tags: , , ,

Boyhood (2014) is Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age drama that is currently up for a Best Picture Oscar. I am familiar with Linklater through his Before trilogy – Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. I loved the trilogy so much that I bought the DVDs, but then realized that the films aren’t amenable to multiple viewings because the dialogue is so casual, almost unscripted, and there is no drama.

Ditto for Boyhood – weak script and no drama, with the addition of mediocre acting.  Other than Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, the actors appear to be amateurs.

Boyhood is getting lots of attention from critics because of a novel idea – i.e., 12 years of filming a kid of divorced parents growing up from ages six to 18. The Rotten Tomato critics love the movie at 98%, and the audience is almost as favorable at 85%.

Me, not so much. Nothing very profound about these not-so-likeable people making a series of bad decisions. I give it two and a half stars out of four.

According to a recent news report, Boyhood is favored for the Best Picture Oscar, but the box office results for American Sniper make it a strong contender. Earlier today, I watched a trailer for Sniper, and was so moved by it that I decided to watch the movie this afternoon.

My brother Kelly previously reviewed the American Sniper in this blog, and I agree with him entirely. Great movie, great storyline, and great acting by Cooper and Miller. I loved the scene where Cooper and Miller meet in a bar, and she rejects him as a SEAL who is probably self-centered. Cooper asks how a man who is willing to give his life for his country is self-centered. Touché. By the end of the movie, I was thinking of the last line from an admiral in 1954 classic, The Bridges at Toko-Ri – “Where do we find such men.” Thankfully, America still (and Texas) produces men like Chris Kyle.

The Rotten Tomato critics like American Sniper at only 73%, but the audience is more receptive at 88%. I can’t imagine that 12% didn’t enjoy the movie. I give it four stars out of four.

Death Comes to Pemberley (2013) is three-hour British-TV drama that was adapted from P.D. James’s book of the same name. I previously blogged about the book in very favorable terms.

The movie is not as satisfying, primarily because of its two lead actors. The estimable Matthew Rhys, who is wonderful in “The Americans,” plays Darcy and is a bit too haughty and cold, while Anna Maxwell Martin plays Elizabeth, and she is too plain. As Jane Austen’s Darcy would say, Anna Maxwell Martin “is tolerable, but not enough to tempt me.” The pleasant surprise is Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham because, unlike all other portrayals of Lydia, this portrayal shows Lydia to be pretty and attractive, albeit silly, too.

The movie is unable to match the book’s balance between the murder mystery and the wonderful relationship of Darcy and Elizabeth. Instead the movie focuses on the mystery and fails to adequately reveal the wonder of the relationship.

The Rotten Tomato critics score the movie at 79%, but the audience is less pleased at 60%. I agree with the audience and score it at two and a half stars out of four.

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