Thursday, April 19, 2007

One Movie to Watch and Another to Miss

I actually watched some semi-recent movies. I didn't catch them in the theater. That's why they are only semi-recent. I'm giving a thumbs up to The Good Shepherd and a thumbs down to The Pursuit of Happyness. Go below the fold if you want to know why.
The Good Shepherd stars Matt Damon as Edward Wilson. The movies uses flashbacks Wilson's life to chronicle in a fictionalized retelling of the early days of the CIA. Some of the jumps are a little confusing, but overall, the movie flows well. There are more than enough plot twists to keep you guessing. I may see it again just to fill in some of the blanks I missed. That said, the feel of the movie is very good as is the supporting cast. William Hurt, Alec Baldwin, Robert DeNiro and more all play supporting roles. The supporting standout, though, is Angelina Jolie as Wilson's long suffering wife. She gives a strong performance that is aided by the makeup people who did a nice job of aging her through the movie.

By contrast, The Pursuit of Happyness stars Wil Smith as Chris Gardner. It also features his real life son Jaden as Gardner's son Christopher. This one is also based on a true story. Unlike Good Shepherd, though, this one is entirely predictable. Smith turns in a very good performance, but the movie is too angsty throughout. They really drive home all the obstacles he needs to overcome as they railroad the story from misery to misery and try to create suspense. "What is going to happen to Gardner and his son?" But the ending is never really in doubt and the emotional uplift is too little, too late to make this worth watching.

We also did a nostalgia turn and watched The Court Jester, starring Danny Kaye, a young (and surprisingly attractive) Angela Lansbury, and Basil Rathbone. I've been on a Danny Kaye kick lately as I prep to portray him in an Andrew's sisters tribute show. So, I've been working on his mannerisms and voice. The kids have been enjoying him greatly. His movies aren't great cinema compared to the movies of today, but his comedy is wonderful. Josh watched this and he watched the recent Dreamworks flick Flushed Away. Afterwards, he told me, "Danny Kaye is better than Flushed Away. Kids today just don't know it." That's my boy.