Thursday, April 17, 2014

March 2014

My movie consumption hit an all-time low in February, when I continued to focus more closely on watching TV series. With all of my Alfred Hitchcock Presents dispensed with, I turned to the popular show The Big Bang Theory, binging on all seven seasons in only a few weeks. And what an amazing and hilarious ride it was! Of course, the movie landscape (at least on the big screen) is rarely anything to write home about in the late winter months, so it's not like I missed a lot of great offerings in February. I did manage to squeeze in two first-release films and one archival title in March; here's what I selected.

THE MONUMENTS MEN (2014)—Originally slated to open around Christmas 2013, director/star George Clooney couldn't get it finished in time, relegating his World War II story for a somewhat less desirable Feb. 7 release date. The movie, co-starring great actors like Matt Damon, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett and Bill Murray, is a reasonably entertaining tale of how many priceless works of art were reclaimed by the Allies from the Germans, who stole them from various art galleries around Europe. Our heroes, led by Clooney, follow up on numerous leads and nab the goods. Basically an Indiana Jones movie without Indiana Jones, the movie starts slow but gathers momentum as it goes along. (8)

NON-STOP (2014)—Having enjoyed Liam Neeson in the similar action movie Taken, I had high hopes for this thriller on an airline. It starts out suspensefully, but the mystery (centering on who's plotting to hijack a plane that Neeson is the air marshal on) becomes entirely too farfetched and unbelievable. (5)

SMALL APARTMENTS (2013)—A quirky comedy populated entirely by quirky characters, based on a novel written in three days as part of a contest. That is not a recipe that appeals to me, but director Jonas Åkerlund has assembled a dynamite cast led by Little Britain's Matt Lucas and including James Caan, Johnny Knoxville, Billy Crystal, Rebel Wilson and Dolph Lundgren. Lucas plays a misfit who inexplicably walks around in his underwear, eschewing pants of any kind, and who has killed his landlord for reasons we discover later in the movie. A bizarre and darkly funny black comedy that doesn't always hit the bullseye, but that's entirely original. (8)

TOUCHY FEELY (2013)—I'm a major fan of Ellen Page, so my viewing of this barely released comedy-drama was strictly to see her perform. Rosemarie DeWitt plays a massage therapist who inexplicably finds herself incapable of touching anybody; meanwhile, her dentist brother (Josh Pais) inexplicably discovers he has the "magic touch" when it comes to curing the jaw disorder TMJ. Page plays the dentist's daughter and sometimes assistant. It's a very, very gentle picture with a small cast and not much of a story. Fine performances, but it doesn't really add up to anything. The great Allison Janney makes it all go down a little easier. (7)