A lovingly rendered adaptation of Mary Norton’s children’s book The Borrowers, The Secret World of Arrietty has a fantastic understanding of its miniscule heroes. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi and the artists of Studio Ghibli see the two worlds of the film from the perspective of the Borrowers–as opposed to the “Beans” (short for the little folks’ malapropism for human beings). It brings together the two species’ sense of isolation. The story itself is delightfully simple, with a young Borrower befriending a sick Bean boy. It doesn’t need grander thematic designs, because the construction and execution of the tale are enough. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
The Woman in Black seems to have been assembled entirely from the old saying that nothing is scarier than a closed door. There are a lot of closed doors in Eel Marsh Manor, where Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) finds himself spending a few nights to put the affairs of the recently deceased owner in order. We have a suspicion of what’s happening in that house and in the town surrounding it, and the movie is entirely about getting Arthur to that same place of understanding. Eventually, those doors have to open. What’s behind them is the usual startle moments. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is more than just high-flying battles, but don’t tell that to Red Tails, which reduces the real fight against racial prejudice to a few scenes. It’s not that the Tuskegee Airmen fought for their country that’s important; it’s that they did so in spite of the fact that their country would rather they didn’t. Instead, we get a lot of melodrama, underdeveloped characters, and uniformly weak performances–thanks primarily to the stagnant dialogue. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
It’s already lazy enough that This Means War uses the old sitcom setup of two men fighting for the same woman while hiding from her the fact that they know each other. The movie ups the stakes of repulsion by casting FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) as CIA agents, who misuse their powers to become professional stalkers. Their target is Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), and it inevitably climaxes with her having to choose one of three choices: FDR, Tuck, or death. If she were a smarter character, she’d immediately figure out a fourth option. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.