Thursday, November 19, 2015

The 33, Love the Coopers, Man Up, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, Sand Dollars (Dolares de Arena)

The 33

Love the Coopers
Man Up

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict
Sand Dollars (Dolares de Arena)

Quick capsules on an otherwise poor week at the movies:

Patricia Riggen's "The 33," about the 33 Chilean miners trapped in the San José copper-gold mine for 69 days, is the movie equivalent of a book with extra-large print. It's so broad, it could play without sound at a drive-in to equivalent effect. The mine collapse itself plays like a scene from a 70's disaster movie, with miners running away from the oncoming rock and straight for the camera. A Who's Who of Latino Hollywood - all speaking English - make their bids for acting Razzies, none worse than all-time ham Antonio Banderas. (Meanwhile, what is Juliette Binoche doing slumming here?) At least have the decency to shoot this sucker in Spanish with subtitles… Imagine you've been giving your all at the office all week. The weekend comes and you're ready to turn your brain off and be entertained. You find a movie with Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Anthony Mackie, Amanda Seyfried, June Squibb and Olivia Wilde. You hire a babysitter, spend 50 clams on dinner and 25 on tickets, and settle in. Then the sour "Love the Coopers" starts, and you want to march right back to the office. Hack director Jessie Nelson takes a cast for whom we have nearly unlimited goodwill and finds the limit. They're left floundering at sea by a Steven Rogers script that's by turns shrill and cloying, slapstick and sitcom, with a ghastly over-narration that's all the more dispiriting for having been read by the great Steve Martin. Only Jake Lacy is worth looking at; a static shot of him in his army fatigues would be far more pleasurable. No movie with two doggie reaction shots has ever been good. "Love the Coopers" has 68… Another violent thumbs down for Ben Palmer's wildly overpraised "Man Up," another sitcom script inexplicably sitting at 85% fresh on the Tomatometer. What the reviews paint as a sophisticated and offbeat romantic comedy turns out to be an intelligence-insulting meet-cute (he mistakes her for his blind date and she never corrects him), followed by a series of Movieland encounters with Movieland characters, breakups and reconciliations, all set to a Tess Morris screenplay with five times too much dialogue, in which nobody ever stops talking and each seems to find his or her every aside hysterical. Lake Bell - at what point can we give up on her much-touted potential? - essays the drunk-loser type perfected by Kirstie Alley on "Cheers." But nothing here can match Alley's reading of a line like, "I am perfectly prepared to marry Robin tomorrow and spend the rest of my life with him. [beat] I'm just not particularly looking forward to it." Simon Pegg, meanwhile, establishes that his success as a comic actor depends on his material; for all his palpable effort, he can't generate laughs on his own. At a restaurant, Pegg and Bell pretend to be an item to rub it in the face of his castrating-bitch ex-wife, whose new boyfriend's sleeve suddenly catches fire, leading Bell to spray the extinguisher up and down the ex-wife. What movie were the critics watching?... Lisa Immordino Vreeland, whose documentary portrait of her grandmother-in-law, "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel," earned four stars on this site, returns with the less compelling "Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict." She does well to get us past the Guggenheim name - Peggy was the black sheep, and by far the least wealthy in the family - and has lit upon some new interview audiotapes in which her subject evinces a delightfully laissez-faire approach to money and sex. But the attempt to parlay Peggy's affairs with half the men in the modern art world into feminist-icon status feels strained… Finally, another mild discommendation for Israel Cárdenas' and Laura Amelia Guzmán's "Sand Dollars" ("Dolares de Arena"). It sounded like my kind of movie: a short (80m), nothing-much-happens love triangle among a local Dominican prostitute (intriguing Yanet Mojica, who wisely doesn't give much away, augmenting her physical appeal with the mystery of what's going on behind her eyes), her on-again-off-again boyfriend (Ricardo Ariel Toribio), and the European expat (Geraldine Chaplin) who fancies herself in love with the girl and wants to bring her home. But… nothing much happens. And I found myself nodding off repeatedly.

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