ANNA KARENINA (★★★) - Starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Matthew Macfayden, Kelly Macdonald, Emily Watson and Olivia Williams. Directed by Joe Wright.
I loved the artistic decision by the makers when faced with the challenge of adapting a thick book to film. They made it like a stage play. Sets become real locations, then back into sets, allowing for quick scene changes and transportations, and a heightened sense of theatricality.
Knightley's great as Anna, the proud wife of a boring general (Law) who has an affair. My biggest problem with it was her lover, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass, Savages). There was nothing attractive or charismatic about him. It made no sense why Anna would destroy her life over having an affair with this dork.
I liked everyone else. Bonus points to Matthew Macfayden for showing the flair of a young Kevin Kline.
Directed by Sacha Gervasi.
Maybe it's just me, but I would hope that someone making a movie about Alfred Hitchcock would have a little more directorial flare to telling the story. This felt like it could've been directed by Dennis Dugan.
It centers on the struggles Hitchcock went through to get Psycho made. He was riding a high from the success from North by Northwest, yet he faced many obstacles trying to get this tale told. The whole thing flows along at almost a sitcom pace, and Mirren even gets one monologue that feels inserted in there strictly for Golden Globe nominating bait. James D'Arcy does some interesting things as Anthony Perkins but it's a surprisingly small role.
It's not bad; it's just not good. It's a paperback beach novel of a movie.
THIS IS 40 (★½) - Starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Chris O'Dowd, Robert Smigel and Melissa McCarthy. Directed by Judd Apatow.
This is hell. This is a whiny, self-indulgent, meandering, laugh-free, plot-free demonstration of an upper-middle-class white family going through their first-world problems and general malaise of hitting the halfway point in their lives.
(Okay, it's not laugh-free; Melissa McCarthy's extended cameo was pretty funny. And how can you not smile at a movie that has Albert Brooks in the cast?)
Paul Rudd and Mr. Judd Apatow's wife and kids reprise their roles from Knocked Up to show how lame life is when you turn forty. At least it can be. "You reap what you sew" could be one of the morals of this movie. Don't like your kids swearing? Maybe you shouldn't have sworn around them all the time.
I actually turn 40 later this year, so I could argue I was the target audience. Not impressed.
THE POSSESSION (★) - Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Davenport and Natasha Calis. Directed by Ole Bornedal.
If you ever want to see a movie featuring a Jewish exorcist but want it to make The Unborn look like a modern classic, you're in luck! Someone made this movie to fulfill your needs.
This movie is an Elvis impersonation of a horror thriller. It hits the same beats of a hundred other movies, has the same pacing and ominous soundtrack, but it never succeeds to present an original idea or provide an actual moment of suspense. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who's resembling Javier Bardem more the older he gets, gives a sincere performance as a concerned father whose daughter is possessed, but it's for a lost cause.