Facing the Critics

“A good writer is not, per se, a good book critic. No more so than a good drunk is automatically a good bartender.”
Jim Bishop


Facing the Critics

Not every movie is a block buster. Sometimes I pretend that actors get three movie deals; the big studio movie, the dud and then one which is the actor’s choice. Because, one thinks, what the hell is Edward Norton doing in The Incredible Hulk?

I’d like to introduce several movies that were either low budget gems or flicks panned by the critics or simply have not been noticed. I like these movies.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
This movie came out in 2008. I’ve only seen it on cable. It stars Frances McDormand and Amy Adams, both now very big stars. It takes place in the 1940s London. Miss Pettigrew (McDormand) fakes her way into a job as a housekeeper and meets Amy Adams who is faking her way through three different boyfriends. Will love prevail?

Sunshine Cleaning
This movie came out in 2008. It stars Amy Adams and Emily Blunt as sisters. It also has Alan Arkin and Steven Zahn. Amy takes a job cleaning up crime scenes. And, without a clue, drops it all in a dumpster. Soon enough she will learn to wear a mask and rubber gloves. She’s trying real hard but Alan and Emily are a mess. Shot in my home town; Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
This movie came out way back in 1988. Directed by Terry Gilliam, it is … well … lets call it a fantasy tale for kids. The fun is that Terry doesn’t use CGI or green screens, he used old school movie making to create his giants and whales and space travel. It has a charm about it that I think you will like.

Because of Winn-Dixie
This movie came out in 2005. It is about a little girl who befriends a stray dog. Let me list some of the cast. AnnaSophia Robb, Jeff Daniels, Cicely Tyson, Dave Matthews (the musician), Eva Marie Saint, Elle Fanning. I agree with the critics in that it can be heavy handed and many will see a Christian overtone that can make you change the channel. It also looks like it was made with little money. But, but, but; this movie has heart. It is not slick or overly sincere; really it is a simple a story with heart.

Drop Dead Gorgeous
This movie was made in 1999. A beauty pageant in a small Minnesota town that goes all wrong and there is a documentary team filming it. Let’s start with the cast: Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Amy Adams, Allison Janney, Ellen Barkin, Kirstie Alley, Brittany Murphy and Thomas Lennon who we never see. What a cast, right? Even back then, Allison Janney was stealing the show.

Sucker Punch
This movie was made in 2011. No one liked this movie. When I read the critics on its release that they ALL gave the film an F, I was in the theater (alone) the next day. It can be confusing, so y’gotta pay attention. And it is a bit harsh. It takes place during World War II, a young girl is placed inside an insane asylum. The girls there are being pimped out to men who come by to have sex. It is an ugly situation. The lead girl, Emily Browning, invents a fantasy world where she is a dancer in a club for mobsters. Her dance is so mesmerizing that she enters yet another fantasy world where the girls are fighting Nazi Germany. So, it is a story within a story within a story. All of the characters, the girls and the bad and good guys are in all three stories. The fight against Nazi Germany has art direction using the propaganda art style of that time (a little like you would soon seen in Captain America, First Soldier). No one liked this movie but I think that it took guts to make.

Golly, there are so many movies. Do you have a secret favorite that no one seems to endorse?

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