For No Good Reason (SSSS): This is a fascinating, revealing documentary about artist Ralph Steadman, who “Rolling Stone’s” Jann Wenner says “was crazier than (gonzo journalist) Hunter S. Thompson” with whom Steadman worked. It shows Steadman creating one of his paintings from scratch, which emphasizes his bizarre work habits. Be warned, Johnny Depp adds exactly zero to the film, just following Steadman around like an adoring lapdog.
The Amazing Spiderman 2 (SS): The most preposterous of the superhero genre, this one is lowlighted by a complete lack of chemistry between putative lovers, Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield. Except for the opening titles, the 3D is pretty much unnoticeable except for the few times that explosions cause particles to fly out in the audience’s faces, a passé trick first foisted on audiences back at the dawn of 3D in Bwana Devil (1952), which, as I recall, was more enjoyable than this.
The Railway Man (SSSS): Screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce says, “It’s hard to make any film, but The Railway Man was particularly hard.” Hard as it might have been to write and produce, it is equally hard to watch. It’s far more accurate in its treatment of the “death railway,” that the Japanese constructed with POW-enhanced slave labor, than David Lean’s “Hollywood” treatment about a fictional bridge over a fictional river Kwai. Colin Firth’s performance of the true story of Eric Lomax and his battle with post-traumatic stress and his eventual confrontation with his inhumane captor highlights the telling of the brutality of the Japanese, supported by a fine performance by Nicole Kidman as his wife. It’s made more poignant by the fact that it was filmed on the actual railway where more than 100,000 slaves died and many more were tortured.
Fading Gigolo (S): If this is not the worst Woody Allen movie (he neither wrote nor directed), it’s not far off. Woody’s acting can sometimes be annoying, never more so than here. His constant whining voice becomes as bad as fingernails across a blackboard. As writer/director/star John Turturro wanders around like he’s in a stupor, this is a film that completely misses on all levels. On the positive side, all the women, Sharon Stone, Vanessa Paradis, and Sofia Vergara, are gorgeous.