This week - Girl With a Pearl Earring - National Treasure - Meet the Fockers
***** Excellent. Don't miss it!
**** Very good. See it!
*** Good. It's up to you.
** Average. Nothing special.
* Waste of time. Forget it.
Girl With a Pearl Earring
Director: Peter Webber
Based on Tracy Chevalier's novel, this movie tells the fictional background story of Dutch painter Jan Vermeer's famous painting "Girl With a Pearl Earring." This harsh drama has a very pretty look and a slow pace that lingers on every erotically laden glance between the main characters. The focus is mostly on light, color and the esthetics of the pictures. Scarlett Johansson truly illuminates the story. Though her part of the timid maid Griet is understated almost to the point of silence, she manages to get across a wide range of powerful emotions. It's all in her eyes. The movie isn't an entirely successful adaptation, missing some essential scenes and points of the book. For the most part, it's a fine and charming film, but it doesn't escape being a bit tedious at times. **3/4 (Julie Vinten)
Johannes Vermeer is probably one of the better-known 17th century Dutch masters. The other is Rembrandt. The title of this majestically imagined art project comes from a small painting done by the Delft School artist. First-time director Peter Webber weaves a simple, yet engaging, tale, while Eduardo Serra's cinematography is a delight to behold. Every frame is a sparkling fragment of a larger, joyful-to-watch, moving painting. The actors are practically faultless, except for Colin Firth who is definitely miscast as Vermeer. He's just too contemporary. On the other hand, Scarlett Johansson, in the title role, is remarkable. Her talents continue to improve with each character she brings to life. Naturally, Irishman Cillian Murphy is super as always. "Girl With a Pearl Earring" is what fine filmmaking is all about. **** (Laimons Juris G)
Director: John Turteltaub
This adventure flick is an upbeat, nice-looking movie that's basically all cliche and nonsense, garbage and baloney. "National Treasure" obviously wishes to resemble a mix of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "The Last Crusade," and Nicolas Cage is supposedly a modern Indiana Jones. Yet, the narrative is so overblown, preposterous and formulaic that it's difficult to get drawn in by the whole treasure-hunting deal. And Nicolas Cage is nauseatingly over-the-top. Things blow up, people run away, people talk gibberish - as ordered by Jerry Bruckheimer. For its 131 minutes, the movie feels very, very long. It's true that "National Treasure" just wants to be silly popcorn-entertainment, but it's no good when silly becomes annoying and entertainment becomes a total bore. That just leaves the popcorn. * (Julie Vinten)
This bit of adventurous fluff and nonsense, starring Nicolas Cage, seems more thrown together in a blender than seriously thought out and logical. But, hey, maybe a smidgen of escapism is just what the doctor ordered. An intriguing, albeit preposterous, storyline and a cutting edge cast appear to be a good combination. Without a doubt the major standout scene-stealer in this flick is newcomer Justin Bartha. But hold on a minute, there's something quite important missing here. Namely the believability factor rates an appallingly big zero. Does the idea of a secret treasure map on the back of the U.S. Declaration of Independence sound too far-fetched? Couldn't "National Treasure" have been just as entertaining if it had been an hour shorter? Is there any possibility of revoking Cage's Oscar? **3/4 (Laimons Juris G)
Meet the Fockers
Director: Jay Roach
"Meet the Fockers" is a very disappointing sequel to a very funny movie. There are some slightly amusing sequences, but it's all basically a tired rehash of old jokes. "Meet the Parents" was not only funny, but also an intelligent and skillfully made comedy. Sadly, this cannot be said about "Meet the Fockers" 's it's the opposite, really. This is an uneven movie with an unpolished narrative and terrible comic timing 's a rush-job technically as well as creatively. The choice of Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman as Mom and Dad Focker is a rather ingenious one. Too bad that the script gives them so little to work with. "Meet the Fockers" completely lacks the enthusiasm of the first installment. The actors seem like they don't really believe in the whole thing - and neither do we. **1/2 (Julie Vinten)
In 2000, "Meet the Parents" was a surprise box office hit. In a lethal comedy of errors, Gaylord "Greg" Focker (Ben Stiller) met Pam Byrnes' (Teri Polo) parents (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner), and we sat back and had a good laugh. Now in this embarrassingly unfunny sequel we meet Greg's folks (Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman). Three Academy Award winners helmed by Austin Powers' director Jay Roach 's sounds just too good to be true. And it is. There's not a lot to recommend this wearisomely extended farce. In a million years you won't discover any Oscar-winning performances here. The jokes are flat, though a few rare guffaws mysteriously pop up now and then. Despite everything, it's nice to see Streisand after a screen absence of eight years. ** (Laimons Juris G)