Movie Reviews from The Critic-in-Chief

Tweet My completely biased and accurate reviews of recent major films: • 12 Years A Slave: Predictable (I kept thinking “Roots” of 30 years ago) and often implausible with a magnificent performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor but a hugely overrated performance by Lupita Nyong’o, who did not merit the Academy Award. I think this is a film people feel guilty about not liking. • Gravity: Almost laughably ridiculous (e.g., Sandra Bullock using a fire extinguisher to maneuver in space), with George …


The Critic

Tweet We had some pretty bad weather in Florida (though far better than the Northeast) so we caught up on some movies. Herein are my reviews so that you can enjoy, yet not waste time. Enough Said: A tour de force with Julia Louis Dreyfus and James Gandolfini (his final film), underscoring the agony of adult dating and the wonder of finding someone who is a soulmate. Extraordinary. All Is Lost: Robert Redford might have three lines in the entire …


The Critic: Downton Abbey, Gravity, Chris Christie

Tweet Downton Abbey is one of the finest period dramas around, but this year’s new season began with a thud. There is the terminally boring Lady Mary, who quite clearly is going to finally snap around—on the advice of a chauffeur now a family member—to confront her fussbudget father about running the wasteful estate. The good Lord’s wife is constantly trying to bring him back to earth with soft mutterings, (as opposed to decent lines and acting) and there seem …


Review of Pacific Rim

Tweet On the flight to Dubai I watched Pacific Rim, because my wife isn’t crazy about science fiction movies and I am. However, this wasn’t science fiction. It was garbage. This makes the legendary Plan Nine from Outer Space (supposedly the worst movie ever made in any genre) look like Hamlet. The writing is juvenile; the acting is mechanical; the plot line is trite and ridiculous. While the special effects are excellent, they are repetitive and often hard to follow. …


Forever Tango

Tweet We dined last night in Barbetta, which is the oldest continually owned restaurant in New York, and one of our favorite Italian places in the City. We’ve been going there for 50 years (this is our 45th anniversary) but the restaurant has been open for 104! There’s a pianist, an elegant room, and a garden. It was too humid for us outside, so we dined inside, with great service. It’s not everywhere you can get bagna cauda. We then …


Air France Beats Alitalia

Tweet We found the Alitalia flight from Boston to Rome very average. The service was present but not gracious. Only one flight attendant smiled. No one checked to see if you needed anything, you had to ask. There was no electrical power connection. The food was mediocre. The luggage did arrive fairly promptly in Rome. Air France, from Firenze to Paris to Boston, was very good. The flight attendants were charming and proactive. The food was plentiful and excellent. Priority …


I’ll Eat You Last

Tweet This one-woman, Bette Midler show about famed agent Sue Mengers was reviewed today by Terry Teachout, the notorious Wall Street Journal reviewer who has dreams he’s Clive Barnes or Charles Isherwood. He’s having an all-too-frequent hissy-fit because Ms. Midler doesn’t leave the couch, and talks too much like the real Sue Mengers did (of course, that’s not to be tolerated). He’s probably also disappointed that she doesn’t sing and dance. I saw this in previews with a packed house …


Game of Moans

Tweet Game of Thrones was so boring last  night that if it were the first one I’d watched, I’d never come back. Apparently, with its popularity, the writers became confused and thought they were writing Don Quixote or The Grapes of Wrath, except those works have more action. We’re watching this for dragons, battles, revenge, the creatures outside the wall, and intrigue. Last night there was so much exposition that it was like watching a Congressional subcommittee on estate taxes. …


New York Reviews

Tweet Swing 46: After Bette Midler’s one-woman show, we wandered over to Restaurant Row on 46th and randomly chose Swing 46. They have an old-time “big band” in the rear, which was packed with patrons around a dance floor. We chose to eat in the bar, where we could hear the music but still talk comfortably. The wine list is pedestrian, but the hanger steak was one of the best I’ve ever had, probably a better prepared offering than in …


New York Reviews

Tweet We’re in New York all week working on some workshops and our annual Mentor Hall of Fame meeting. Some reviews thus far (and it’s hitting 80 degrees, by the way!): • Caravaggio: I took a group of 12 people there last year and we had a great dinner. It was featured in a movie or TV show shortly thereafter. My wife was never there, so the two of us went for dinner. This time, I found the food very …