The movies edition: Iron Man 3, Anna Karenina, Life of Pi, Looper, Wreck-It Ralph, Argo & I Confess . . . 
— 1 —

Iron Man 3
Eh, it was okay, I guess, if you’re looking for an action movie. I just didn’t find it nearly as clever as the first Iron Man, or Captain America (I am a big Captain America fan), or the Avengers.  It was pretty standard kick-punching and blowing stuff up.  
The notable exceptions being Tony Stark’s dialogue with a fatherless kid — I found that to be unexpected and hilarious, if totally inappropriate in real life, and Ben Kingsley’s villain — he plays two completely different characters, both perfectly.
The two things I was most bothered by were the fact that IT IS A CHRISTMAS MOVIE in May.  Christmas trees everywhere, Christmas carols playing, the works.  The teacher in me kept marking the movie down for its obvious lateness.
And Gweneth Paltrow spends the last third of the movie in stretch pants and a sports bra.  It makes me sad that an actress of her pedigree, and a wife and mother, would choose to lump herself in with all the other forty-something actresses who do a lot of situps.
There’s also Tony Stark doing a weird mock crossing himself thing that I really didn’t know what to make of.  And when he says “Let’s take them to church,” he means “Let’s kill them.”  Also odd.
I can’t really recommend it, but it wasn’t THAT bad (but for adults only I’d think, due to the hook ups and shacking up).
— 2 —

Anna Karenina

I saw this one on the plane on our way to Italy and it was so creatively staged and visually stunning that I kept lamenting the fact that I was watching it on a four inch screen.

If you’re familiar with the book you’ll know that this is the anti-Jane-Austen-happy-ending story.  An aching story of love and disregard and adultery and consequences.  It is so well acted and feels so TRUE that I don’t think I was prepared to handle the emotions it brought forth in me.  And the love scenes, while not very graphic, are so sensual that I don’t think I’ll be able to watch it again.  Even though I was familiar with the plot, somehow seeing it messes with my head more than reading it.

Unless you’re sitting around saying to yourself, “I would like to be titillated and horrified and amazed by a movie right now,” I don’t think I’d recommend it, but I thought it was a really good movie and a very faithful adaptation.  So, how’s that for a helpful review?

— 3 —

Life of Pi
Another one I saw on the airplane.  Also beautiful to look at, but this one was almost completely devoid of substance.  And I found the twist at the end to be depressing beyond belief.
I had read the book, so I knew what to expect, but it was still bothersome to hear the lead character explaining how he was born Hindu, then became Catholic, then Muslim, without ever abandoning his previous faiths.  Because he’s just THAT much more enlightened than all the rest of us who are so narrow-minded we have to choose only one religion.
I do not recommend this one.
— 4 —
Looper
Totally worth the language and violence and brief nudity.
I loved the visual world of this movie.  Floating watering robots alongside an axe, a new way to take drugs, beater cars with solar panels, ironic ties and hover cycles . . . I’m a big fan of dystopia and I really think they nailed it.
And it’s perhaps the only morally justifiable positive and direct . . . wait, I won’t tell you, I don’t want to spoil it.
Suffice to say this is a gripping and SMART movie focusing on redemptive love.  I highly recommend it for adults.
— 5 —

Wreck-It Ralph
I resisted seeing (and letting my kids see) this one for a long time, assuming that a made-for-kids movie starring a young lady famous for her profane comedy routines would probably not be a great fit for my family.  
I also got the sense that it would be another exercise in: “Hey kids, you can be anything you want to be if you just believe in yourself.”
But, I ended up trapped at the dentist’s office all morning with the kids, so we watched it together (I figured I would just explain how inappropriate it had been on the way home and it would be another Tierney family exercise in Discerning Viewership) but I was pleasantly surprised.
Ralph uses kindness and self-sacrifice to eventually win over his neighbors, and instead of being whatever he wants to be, he becomes the best possible version of himself.  Ms. Silverman’s character, Vanellope, ends the movie less willing than Ralph to embrace her own responsibilities, but not nearly as problematic as I had feared she’d be.  And the kids loved it so much they ALL watched it again the next day on the airplane.
So, overall, I’d recommend it.

— 6 —

Argo
It won the Academy Award for Best Picture, but I know you’re waiting to see it until you find out what *I* think about it.
Well, wait no more because I thought it was swell.
LOTS of language, tons, and a bit of skin, but they couldn’t have done it any other way.  It seemed necessary to the plot, so it was okay with me.
The costumes and settings are great, the characters are believable, and the action is exciting. (The climax of the movie seems fake and overwrought, and it is, but everything else leading up to it is great, so I can let that slide.)  The Hollywood stuff is HILARIOUS.
And my favorite part is probably one the other reviews leave out, which is that it has a really sweet pro-family message.
Again, not for kids, but I recommend it.

— 7 —

I Confess
Hey, you thought I was late on my review for Argo?  Well, I Confess is a Hitchcock movie released in 1953, so I’m waaaay later on this one.
It’s in black and white, and has all the Hitchcock suspense and twists and turns you’d expect.  But this time, the hero is a priest.  He is faced with the dilemma of knowing the truth about a murder for which HE is the prime suspect.  But he cannot exonerate himself without breaking the seal of the confessional.
There’s considerable innuendo throughout the movie that our hero may have broken his vow of celibacy, which could be confusing to younger viewers.  So I’d recommend it for high school and up.

Silver Linings Playbook is on my to-watch list, and David Tennant’s Hamlet.  Any other suggestions?

Update: I saw Silver Linings Playbook and have a very strong opinion about it, which you can read about here.

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