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10 Nebraska It's a definite understatement to say that this movie speaks to me where I live.  As the "owner" of
an 89-year-old Alzheimer's patient myself, I totally emphasize with Will Forte's character in this movie--the son of
Bruce Dern, an addled Montana rancher who is thinks he's won a prize, when in reality, he's misread a direct mail
piece.  So they take a road trip to Nebraska, and along the way, they stumble into their lives.  Great acting all
around, but if Dern deserves to nominated for Best Actor, Forte deserves to be nominated for best Supporting
Actor.  (12/29/2014)
Matt's Ten Favorite Movies from 2013

As always, I'll share with you that this is NOT a list of the ten best movies I saw in 2013.   If that were the case, the list would include
good movies I saw in 2013 that came out in 2012 like
Zero Dark Thirty or maybe even Casablanca, which I saw about thirty times in
2013, thanks to a mother with Alzheimer's.  Also it irritates me that the Academy of Motion Pictures presumes to call something a "Best
Picture" just because Ben Affleck got snubbed by the Directors Guild--screwing Les Miserables (left).

So these are the ten movies that came out in 2013 that I liked best
.
This is 40  Here are five ways I thought about beginning this review:

1.  This is 40 begins with a shower scene.  I wish it had ended with a shower scene because I certainly felt dirty after watching it.

2.  If you think your family is bad, things could always be worse.  You could be a member of Judd Apatow's family.  He apparently
   blackmailed his wife (Leslie Mann) and two young daughters into playing themselves in the movie.  I predict years of therapy
   for the three of them.

3.  Toward the end of the movie, you decide that you actually think that Leslie Mann is probably a nice person in real life--despite
   the fact that her appearance in this movie is apparently some sort of emotional hostage situation.  You hope that she makes it
   to the end of the movie with some small vestige of her dignity intact.  To paraphrase the Duke of Wellington after Waterloo,
   "It was the most closely run thing you've ever seen."   (Meanwhile, Paul Rudd, playing Judd Apatow apparently, loses his much
   earlier in a scene in which he gives himself a rectal examination.)

4.  I suppose I can understand how Mr. Apatow could coerce members of his own family into being in his movie, but sensible
   people like John Lithgow, Albert Brooks, Jason Segal and Melissa McCarthy should know better.

5.  WTF (Win the future)??!

However, I decided that none of them were particularly clever--a trait they share with This Is 40.  Being an "Apatow Movie", there will
be times in the movie when you won't be able to help laughing.  Those moments, however, will be far outnumbered by the times you'll
cringe or groan.  I feel like a lesser person after seeing this movie.  Spare yourself.  (1/6/2013)

The Counselor is so bad it's almost good.  One's enjoyment is greatly enhanced by a lack of knowledge of El Paso, Texas.  If you can
imagine El Paso as the kind of place where people who look and act like Michael Fassbender and Penelope Cruz are ordinary folks who
get sidetracked from the straight and narrow by folks like Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt, you might actually buy into the movie's gestalt.  
But probably not.  Fassbender is the counselor of the title, and he wants to make one big score in the drug world, get out and have a
fabulous life with his fiancée Penelope.  Weird coincidences--and the most stilted dialog of any movie you'll see this year--get in the
way.  Sometimes, the weird stuff that happens doesn't really have anything to do with the movie.  For instance, early on in the movie,
Fassbender goes to Amsterdam.  To meet a drug contact?  To find a place to hide after he makes his score?  Nope.  He's just in town to
buy an engagement ring.  We spend about five minutes learning about the particulars of the diamond he buys so that we'll be impressed
a few minutes later when Cameron Diaz sees the ring on Penelope Cruz's finger and makes a very good technical description of it after a
ten-second perusal.  Is this relevant?  I suppose the director thinks so anyway.  The Counselor probably looked like a great script  As a
movie?  Not so much.  (10/27/2013)

Diana The first time I took my dear old mother to Scotland (a long, long, pitiful story--ask me about it sometime), we hired a car and
driver to drive us around Edinburgh to see the sights.  Our chauffeur and guide was a lovely 70-something gentleman named Jim
McDonald.  Both Diana and Fergie were in the news at the time for doing something trashy, and Mom--God love her--asked Jim what
he thought of the young--er, ladies.  A look fell over his face that suggested that perhaps he had smelled something really unpleasant.  
"Trash, trash--both of them."  I often thought of Jim later after the divorce when it appeared that Diana was attempting to step into
Mother Theresa's shoes.  Now we have
Diana, which presents the People's Princess in such an unflattering light, that I think perhaps
that old Jim was rather prescient.  This particular version of the story is told from the POV of Dr. Hazmet Khan, a cardiovascular
surgeon with whom Diana was in love in the last years of her life.  To sum up the plot of this movie in one sentence:  they were in love,
but he wasn't willing to give up his profession or his life for her.  Further,  Naomi Watts is an incredible actress.  The fact that I went to
see her in this movie is proof that I'd be happy to see her in almost anything.  However, I did not for one second buy her performance
as Diana.  Never do you look at her and think she was the princess.  (This also bodes ill for a movie that will be coming out in the next
few months in which Nicole Kidman portrays Princess Grace, but I digress.)  At one point in the movie, Diana dons a long brown wig
so that she can go to a jazz club with her doctor beau. We're supposed to be impressed that in the wig, no one knows who she is.  This
effect is totally miscalculated because Naomi Watts really didn't look like her in the first place.  Don't waste you're money on
Diana.  
It'll be on the Lifetime channel soon enough.  (11/9/2013)

Grudge Match If you're really in the spectacle of two 70-year-old men (Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro) in a boxing match, it's
your life.  But you were warned.  (12/26/2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street To use a word that's used 507 times in the movie (a record), here are 507 words that convey what I think of
the movie:   f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***
f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***  (12/30/2013)
9  The Bling Ring  The key phrase from the movie in the next paragraph is Hermione took our stuff, referring to
the way the real Emma Watson showed up at James Franco's house and walked out with valuables.  Practically
the same thing can be said for this movie in which Emma Watson plays one of five or six teenagers in Calabassas
who remedies their envy of "somebodies" like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton by breaking into their houses and
stealing their bling.  This is based on a true story that was written up a couple of years back in Vanity Fair, in an
article called The Suspect Wore Louboutins.  Miss Watson and her fellow cast members do a wonderful job of
conveying the zeitgeist of a band of teenagers who measure their own self worth to that of actual celebrities who
themselves seem to be famous merely for being famous.  When the "ring" is ultimately hauled into jail, they handle
requests for interviews from the press just the way that Paris and Kim would do.  When a policeman tells the
"leader" of the ring that he's spoken to Lindsay Lohan, the young woman replies, "What did Lindsay say?"  I
thought it was perversely funny, but the fact that no one else in the theater was laughing started to make me
wonder if I'm the one who's out of step here.  (6/26/2013)
3  The Way, Way Back   isn't a great movie, but compared to all the other junk in the cineplexes these days, it
looks like Citizen Kane.  It's well written, well acted by good actors like Toni Collette, Steve Carrell, Allison Janney
and Sam Rockwell who look their grateful to be in a movie that's not trash.  A 14-year-old boy who doesn't know
that his father doesn't want him, joins his mother (Collette) at her boyfriend's (Carrell's) beach house somewhere
in the Northeast.   The experience is so unpleasant that he actually gets a job to get away from the poisonous
atmosphere at the house.  At the water park where he escapes (and earns the nickname "Pop and Lock"), he meets
the wonderful Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph who run the park and provide a warmer family atmosphere than
he finds at home.  I think this is the first time in 2013 that I've used the word "Oscar-worthy" in a review, but I
think that when awards time rolls around, you'll her Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell prominently mentioned.   In
the meantime, if you're looking for a summer movie that doesn't insult your intelligence, you won't do better than
The Way, Way Back. (7/29/2013)
4  Much Ado About Nothing   Joss Whedon might not be a name that's familiar to you, but he's quite a good
screenwriter who's produced such various and diverse projects as The Avengers and Toy Story. Something--I
have no idea what, but I'm really happy for it, whatever it was--possessed him to gather a covey of his favorite
actors to perform Shakespeare's immortal play, set in the current day in someplace that looks a lot like Beverly
Hills.  For me and probably a lot of folks who have fond memories of Kenneth Branagh's wonderful film from
1993, this film is a revelation because in lots of ways, it's better.  In any production of Much Ado, Beatrice and
Benedick are going to be the big noise, and that was certainly the case when Mr. Branagh and Emma Thompson
were chewing up the scenery in the earlier version.  Here Alexis Denisof, who's been in nothing you've heard of,
except a bunch of tv shows that Mr. Whedon wrote, and Amy Acker--ditto what I said about Mr. Denisof--do the
honors--and they're wonderful.  They handle Shakespeare's dialog as if they had grown up watching Branagh and
Thompson--and maybe they did.   Where this movie outshines the earlier model is in the supporting players.  
Claudio and Hero are usually the downfall of most productions of this play, including the Branagh movie.  Robert
Sean Leonard and Kate Beckinsale were just too bland.  Here, the roles are played by Fran Kranz and Jillian
Morgese, and they're equally wonderful.   Where Branagh filled out the cast with an opaque Denzel Washington,
an incoherent Michael Keaton and a brooding Keanu Reeves, Mr. Whedon uses people you've never heard
of--except Nathan Fillion as Dogberry--who deliver their lines brilliantly.   I don't know if this is the best movie
I've seen this year, but it's one of them.  (6/28/2013)
1  Gravity is sublime.  George Clooney's name might appear above the title in this movie, but it's really a
one-woman movie.  In the words of Rajesh from The Big Bang Theory, "Sandy always brings it."  Indeed she
does, and never more than she does here.   Trust me, she'll be getting her second Oscar in early 2014, and this
movie will be on every top ten list--including mine.  How this movie got made is a mystery to me, but the fact that
it was proves that movies can still be magical.  Go see it.  You'll be amazed. (10/5/2013)
8  The Book Thief  He's back!  After four decades in the wilderness (so to speak), DEATH is working again.  
He was big in the Ingmar Bergman and Woody Allen movies of the 70's, but for the past 40 years or so, he's
been slumming in endless repeats of The Family Guy.  But in the new The Book Thief, he's back, wandering the
streets of German cities about to be bombed into powder during the Allied raids in WW2. Unfortunately, he's the
only discordant note in this otherwise remarkable  story of a young girl who's taken in by a kindly couple
(Geoffrey Rush and Emily Mortimer) after her Communist parents are taken off to the concentration camp.  The
performances are fine, and the story is good.  The body count is high, but the movie is worth your attention.  
(12/12/2013)
6  Inside Llewyn Davis   You never know what you're going to get with the Coen brothers.  In this case, you get
a quietly spectacular movie about the folk music scene in New York in the early 60's.  (In one scene, Bob Dylan is
heard singing in a club but since he's nobody at the time, nobody really listens to him.)  Llewyn--Oscar Isaac,
whom I'd never heard of until I saw the movie but now know that I'll be seeing a lot of him in the future--is a
struggling singer who's trying to kickstart a career in show business, oblivious to the fact that within two years,
the invasion led by The Beatles would leave him and his ilk strewn in their wake.  He performs in dives, sleeps on
borrowed couches, and bums money from practically everyone he meets.  Carey Mulligan--whom I've never much
liked in anything--is an ex-girlfriend who's moved on from him to greener pastures in the form of Jim, a singer
who's played by Justin Timberlake.  All she needs to complete her separation from Llewyn is $200 for an
abortion.  Llewyn is a miserable creature--and he shares his misery with everyone he meets.  Frankly, it's a miracle
he has anyone in his life who's willing to put up with him.  (12/28/2013)
5  American Hustle purports to tell the story of the Abscam scandal in the disco 70's, in which the FBI attempts
to entrap some New Jersey politicians into taking bribes.  It's played as comedy--which means that: 1) the facts of
the case are irrelevant; and 2) it's OK to disguise Christian Slater, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner in weird
hair-dos and pour Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence into gravity-defying, sequined gowns.  As pure
entertainment, American Hustle is fine--just don't expect to learn anything.  (12/22/2013)
7  Enough Said   Julia  Louis-Dreyfus has been an underrated actress since her days on Saturday Night Live in
the 80's.  While she was one of  the highest paid and most visible actresses of the 90's in
Seinfeld, she
wasn't--well, Seinfeld.  In Enough Said,she has a role that she can simultaneously use her great acting skills and
her capacity for empathy that makes her unique.  She appears as a Los Angeles yoga instructor who finds a
new client (Catherine Keener, not knowing that she's the recent ex-wife of her new boyfriend, played by the
late James Gandolfini.  While Gandolfini is fine in the movie, I wouldn't say that Gandolfini is particularly fine in
the movie, I'm sure that won't stop him from receiving lots of love about the time they start handing out awards
next year.
2  Saving Mr. Banks In the last couple of days, I've seen some newspaper articles dumping on this movie
because it paints a flattering picture of Walt Disney.  (Maybe they arrived late or didn't notice that the movie was
produced and released by something called The Walt Disney Company.)  They carp that the movie didn't mention
that Disney was a chain smoker who was tough on labor unions.  To which I can only wonder how that
knowledge could have enriched this movie--which is wonderful.  By now, you probably know that the movie is the
story of P. L. Travers and her encounter wit Disney as she contemplates the sale of her stories that would
eventually be made into Mary Poppins.  Emma Thompson is outstanding as Travers, and Tom Hanks is serviceable
as Disney.  While it may not be the best movie I saw this year, it is by far the most enjoyable..  (12/29/2013)
This is usually the place in the countdown where I try to persuade you that I don't have a list of the movies that were the worst of the
year because I was too clever to see movies that I knew were going to be bad.  This year, I lowered my standards sufficiently to have at
least half a list.  Even though, I could dump on crap like
The Lone Ranger and Thor, I won't.  I think that territory has been covered.  
Here are five movies that managed to get themselves released--to the horror of the movie-going public.
5
Click here if you'd like to see my comments on all 58 movies I saw in 2013.