Keanu Reeves' acting coach.
Keanu Reeves' acting coach.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

In this remake of the 1951 B-classic of the same name, Keanu Reeves stars as himself, a robotic alien who loathes humankind. He comes to earth off his high interplanetary horse to warn us that if we don’t start giving a hoot and not polluting, he’s going to murder us. His perception of human beings as only glorified cavepeople is reinforced by the military bureaucrats who just want to fill him full o’ lead. But Jennifer Connelly and her shapely cheekbones try to convince him otherwise, that not all of us are greedy jerks, that some of us actually give a shit about the environment and higher thought. Another main character is Gort, a faceless, speechless, 12-story-tall robot in Devo sunglasses who looks a lot like Rom, who looks a lot like the original 1951 Gort. The special effects are limited to Gort and to the money shot of black “dust” sweeping across the surface of the earth and basically erasing a lot of tall buildings. The movie moves along at a decent clip, and you could watch it while doing the dishes.


Bangkok Dangerous

Nicolas Cage puts on his always-stilted tough-guy act and stars as a hit-man at the twilight of his career sent to the titular Thai city to conduct several gun-tastic transactions. Directed by the two guys who made the original 1999 movie of the same name, Danny and Oxide Pang, the new Dangerous is quiet –– not a lot of dialogue –– and surprisingly airless, especially considering the exotic location. The subplots about Cage and his love interest, a deaf girl, and between him and an aspiring hit-kid are maudlin and clichéd. The most memorable scene is a ridiculous, gratuitous shootout in a water-cooler factory. Recommended only for all three Nicolas Cage fans.


Not bad. Not bad at all. Anne Hathaway stars as a grief counselor treating six airplane crash survivors who all have conflicting accounts of the incident. The mood is totally gray –– even the daytime scenes have a stark bleakness about them –– and all five of the main actors are invested in the mystery. Effective rainy-afternoon date movie that will make you thankful for the good thing you’ve got.

The Wrestler

Now we’re talking. A real movie. With real acting. And a real, realistic, non-Hollywoodian “plot” (for lack of a better term). By a director with vision, Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, the immensely overrated Pi). The film follows Randy “The Ram” (Mickey Rourke), a professional wrestler whose best days are long behind him. Randy lives in a trailer and gets by on odd jobs at a nearby supermarket, steroids, peroxide (for his blond mane), a tanning booth, the love and admiration of fans and fellow wrestlers, and his memories. A heart attack after a bout causes him to take a good look at where his life’s headed: nowhere, even though love may be on the horizon in the fit form of a stripper (Marisa Tomei) and even though his estranged college-aged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) has grudgingly agreed to a possible reconciliation. Though slowly paced, the movie isn’t necessarily slow, special thanks to the Oscar-nominated Rourke, who is never anything less than wholly captivating in every scene he’s in (and he’s in almost every frame).