by Tom Doty
Film fans were treated to a real feast this week with three hits and only one yawner.
“J. Edgar” — A well-intentioned but uneven biography of the FBI chief from Clint Eastwood. This film looks great, but it is just too long while never coming to grips with its subject. The actors are quite good, but this film fails to exploit the dark side of Hoover that made him so compelling. Leonardo Dicaprio makes for an interesting Hoover, if not an engaging one. The real problem here is that you spend three hours with the guy but never understand how he could freely violate the laws he was sworn to uphold. Had this been a treatise on “the ends justify the means,” they might have had something.
“Puss in Boots” — Antonio Banderas returns as the titular character in this solo adventure from the “Shrek” franchise. It is a freewheeling ride though fractured fairy tales, as he teams up with Humpty Dumpty and the bickering Jack and Jill to steal golden eggs from a not-so-jolly giant. Fun stuff that has plenty of laughs and action bits, with the best being a cat fight/dance number set in a litterbox.
“Tower Heist” — 96 percent of Americans should enjoy this tale of disenchanted hotel workers who set out to rob the investor who apparently lost their life savings. Ben Stiller stars as the guy who puts the heist together and he is in great company with Matthew Broderick, especially good as a Wall street investment aide who has lost everything. It all works thanks to a polished turn by Alan Alda as the Trump- (or should I say Bernie Madoff)-like villain. The climax is especially thrilling, as it is filmed against a back drop of the Macy’s Day Parade.
“Whispers” — The novels of Dean Koontz have fared better on television than at the movies, but that’s only because this adaptation of one of his better thrillers was never distributed theatrically. What a shame, as they got it right when they adapted this dark tale of a woman being stalked by a seemingly unstoppable killer. Turns out he isn’t supernatural at all, but giving more away would be criminal. Victoria Tennant stars as the unfortunate woman, but it is Jean Le Clerc who steals this as her obsessed stalker. This guy has a great back story that is steeped in child neglect and outright abuse. Good stuff with a tense and very creepy finale.
Next week brings an animated Justice League adventure with the release of “Doom” and Rowan Atkinson is back as “Johnny English.”
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