Much investigation has gone into the
issue of Nazi art theft during World War II, with grand efforts made to
verify claims and restore pieces to their rightful owners or their
surviving family members.
Director Sacha Gervasi attempts to frame Hitchcock as a love story between the director and his wife Alma, a rekindling of their passion for one another without actually presenting evidence of the initial spark or the carefully laid foundation between them.
Here's another pound of cautionary proof supporting the theorem that "story is about thoroughness, not shortcuts." Director Robert Shwentke's adaptation of a DC Comics action/comedy graphic novel is nothing but a series of creaky narrative half-steps. The result leaves no cohesive story in which an audience can invest. Grade: D-plus.
Based on real-life exploits of the husband-and-wife team that opened and operated Nevada's Mustang Ranch (the first legal brothel in the country), 'Love Ranch' holds the seedy promise of a 1970s period piece bubbling over with all the nudity, camp humor and tantalizing danger of a Russ Meyers' movie.
Instead, the film plays it so safe that the only thing holding it together is Helen Mirren's flawless performance as an elegant brothel madam with a showboating husband (played by a miscast Joe Pesci). Grade: C-.
Writer/director Michael Hoffman's film adaptation of Jay Parini's novel doesn't effectively rally the strength of its accomplished actors. Whenever the action abandons Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer)and wife Sofya (Helen Mirren), it's as if the film regresses into a teen love story. Grade: C-plus.
Based on a politically charged BBC miniseries, 'State of Play' moves the action from the House of Parliament to Washington, D.C., where the suspicious death of a congressman's co-worker mistress underlines the desperate state of newspaper journalism in America. Russell Crowe, looking considerably older these days, plays Cal McAffrey, a veteran Washington Post-styled reporter with close ties to the congressman. Grade: C.