… not Russell Crowe, that’s for damn sure. Remember when he had a mercurial, almost dangerously wild screen presence? Yeah, he doesn’t do that any more. And “Robin Hood” — which pairs him once again with his laziest director, Ridley Scott — is easily the week’s most disappointing film.
Don’t believe me? Read on, dear friend …
“Just Wright“: Sometimes, modest aspirations are all a commercial picture needs. Sanaa Hamri’s gentle romance doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, or the star-crossed romance; all it does is ask Queen Latifah and Common to be charming at each other, which they do very well. I rather enjoyed myself.
“Letters to Juliet“: I would happily watch a movie where Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave just drive around Tuscany for a couple of hours, but Gary Winick had to ruin it with a stupid finder-of-lost-loves plot, an unconvincing romantic dilemma for Seyfried and a truly awful supporting turn from Gael Garcia Bernal, who becomes less interesting every time I see him on screen. Neat trick, that.
“Mao’s Last Dancer”: Hey, Bruce Beresford’s still working! His latest is a drama about the Chinese ballet dancer Li Cunxin, who performed for the Communist regime in the 1980s. I missed it at TIFF last fall, but Rad was unimpressed … along with everyone else I know who’s seen it.
“Mother and Child”: After “Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her” and “Ten Tiny Love Stories”, I was pretty much done with Rodrigo Garcia’s mushy multicharacter dramas. So Susan caught his latest, and says it’s his best work. I will take her word for it.
“Robin Hood“: Imagine a movie about Sherwood Forest’s most beloved outlaw that is no fun whatsoever — just dreary, ugly and incredibly dull. That’s what you get with Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe’s latest collaboration, which styles itself as an origin story for a series no one on earth will ever want to see again. My review should be online shortly, but you really shouldn’t need any more persuading. UPDATE: Seriously, are you still thinking about going? Read the damn review!
“The Trotsky”: I have to admit, I really didn’t like this movie. Jacob Tierney’s a talented filmmaker, but this script — about a Montreal high-schooler convinced he’s the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky — is little more than a riff on Wes Anderson’s “Rushmore” that gravely misunderstands its source. (Max Fischer isn’t a hero, he’s a jerk.) And as much as I like Jay Baruchel, I found him incredibly annoying here, both in terms of character and performance. Rad liked it much more than I did, obviously.
One other thing you should know: The Toronto Underground Cinema opens its doors tonight (beneath a Chinatown mall at 186 Spadina Avenue) with a free double-feature of “Clue” and “Big Trouble in Little China”. I visited the theatre earlier this week for a NOW Daily piece
that should be online later today, and it’s the same great big space it was in the 1990s, when it was the Golden Classics Cinema. If you’re downtown this evening, and you’ve been hankering to see Jack Burton back on the big screen, I can think of nothing better to do.