Review: Mad Money

Traditionally, January is the time of year when studios dump all the films they don’t think are going to do very well. With Mad Money, the new film directed by Calle Khouri, I’m not sure they’re right. But that doesn’t make it a good film. Mad Money follows Bridget Cardigan (Diane Keaton), an upper class housewife who needs to find a job in order to help stave off the impending financial doom caused by her husband being downsized. She starts working for the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, the place where they destroy used money.

In the bank, she quickly devises a plan to get some of that money out of the bank, something we are told is nigh on impossible. In order to get her plan to work, though, she needs two more people, Jackie and Nina (Katie Holmes and Queen Latifah). See, Bridget has a theory, that “crime is contagious.” That once one person starts thinking about it, she can “infect” others with the desire. Continue reading “Review: Mad Money”

Review: There Will Be Blood

What was Paul Thomas Anderson thinking? In his new movie, There Will Be Blood, the auteur filmmaker is taking a lesser known novel by Upton Sinclair, Oil!, and turning it into a long, boring rumination on… well, that’s part of the problem, He never really gets around to making a point. Instead, he chooses to spend almost three hours giving us the life of a disagreeable wildcatter named Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) without ever scratching below the obvious.

The plot follows Plainview from his humble beginnings as a miner, showing his grit and determination through some fairly large hardships, to his success as a millionaire oilman and then to his fall, living among his personal demons in a beautiful house but away from the fields he knew so well. It’s a slice of life, certainly, but like a cheese pizza, there’s very little spice or differentiation of taste. Continue reading “Review: There Will Be Blood”

Review: The Bucket List

This is the season when realism gets thrown out the window in favor of extended metaphor. In the case of Rob Reiner’s The Bucket List, that metaphor is about living life to the fullest, no matter what’s coming down the pike.

Like a recent rash of films, The Bucket List is more fairy tale than anything else. In it, two old guys, Edward Cole, a billionaire hospital developer (Jack Nicholson) and Carter Chambers, a mechanic (Morgan Freeman) are thrown together in the cancer ward of one of Cole’s hospitals. That these two are in the same room should be a clue that we’re leaving the realm of reality and when they become fast friends, confiding in each other of the woes of their lives, we are firmly in the land of fantasy. But so what? Where is it written that a film about cancer patients has to spend the bulk of its time showing how hard chemotherapy is? Where does it say a movie about a serious subject can’t be humorous and light-hearted and still impart a message? Sure, that might sound more like a made-for-TV style film but the star power here elevates this from mere after school special to full-fledged feature film. Continue reading “Review: The Bucket List”