I'm less than thrilled with the selection of movies hitting theaters this week. The only one I am even remotely interested in is "Red 2" and that's only because I saw the first one and quite enjoyed it. The whole premise of these old CIA operatives coming back and kicking some butt while other people try to kill them was executed well and makes for a different movie experience. Obviously you know who you're supposed to be rooting for and who will win in the end, but instead of being the typical young kid winning out, it's the old crew that takes it all. So now there is a second film in this series, which was adapted from a comic book, that sends the group on a new mission to find a missing portable nuclear device.
Instead of picking one of the main characters or a general theme to rate movies on this week, I decided to mix it up a little and pick my favorite film from each of the five top actors in the sequel. The film is filled with stars, but I chose the five I feel are most famous.
'Calendar Girls' 2003
While Helen Mirren is probably one of the most versatile actresses out there and I have enjoyed seeing her different roles, I really enjoyed her in "Calendar Girls." I watched this movie with my sister and mother when it first came out and it had us all laughing and smiling, but also pulled at our heartstrings, as any good chick flick is meant to do.
This is one of those British films, so you have to be able to appreciate the sense of humor if you are going to enjoy this to its full extent. However, the movie has a nice premise: This women's group gets together to come up with fundraising ideas, and they end up making a nude calendar. It's not like Hustler or anything; they pose behind flowerpots or in the kitchen with bowls strategically placed to cover their private parts. I think Mirren did a fabulous job in this movie, showing off her talent for portraying a serious character dealing with a tragic situation, all while cracking jokes and making the audience laugh. This is a girls' night staple.
'The Kid' 2000
Bruce Willis has no doubt done a bunch of great films, but none that I have enjoyed more than Disney's 2000 film "The Kid." Spencer Breslin goes forward in time to find out that he turns into a less than savory man when he grows up, played by Willis. I expect that everyone reading this will think this is the most ridiculous pick out of all the movies Willis has starred in, but if you haven't seen it, sit down and watch, then tell me what you think.
Willis so often gets typecast and doesn't really get to show off his acting chops, but this film really allowed him to show that he is capable of more than just killing people and cursing. It showed he can be in a family film and be funny, which is exactly the reason I love this movie. It lets families sit down and enjoy Willis as an actor, letting children experience a truly quality actor, so they might develop a better taste in films and actors. Willis can do action films all he wants, but I really enjoyed seeing him branch out and do something fun and different.
John Malkovich shows up everywhere. This was probably one of the harder actors for me to choose for, because he is so talented and is able to share all of the different sides of his acting skills. But when it comes down to it, I really did enjoy the crazy ex-CIA operative he played. He was given a lot of acid back in the day and that made him completely nuts. I can't imagine anyone being able to play that character better than Malkovich did. He was able to be as crazy as they needed him to be, but still made it believable to the audience.
The casting director picked Malkovich well to play the role of Marvin Boggs. At one point he is shown running down the road with a giant bomb strapped to his chest, with a look on his face that brings the viewer to believe this might be the most fun he has ever had. Malkovich is great in everything, but if you choose one film of his to watch, I highly suggest this one.
'The Mask of Zorro' 1998
Who doesn't love Zorro? Anthony Hopkins does a fantastic job portraying the aging masked hero. A lot of people love this movie for Antonio Banderas. And it's not that I don't enjoy Banderas for his accent, looks and swordplay, but Hopkins really brings the whole thing together. He has the real acting talent in this film, and he shows it off.
How else would Banderas have the ability to become Zorro? Hopkins has managed to show off his skills in a number of films (some of which I can never watch because I would likely never sleep again), but I find Zorro to be his most enjoyable performance. Hopkins is convincing as Zorro with an axe to grind after being released from 20 years of incarceration. He shows patience and care in training a replacement for himself, as he realizes he needs to step down as the masked hero. This movie is a great adventure; definitely my favorite Hopkins performance.
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Catherine Zeta-Jones 'Chicago' 2002
Musicals are sometimes annoying, but "Chicago" doesn't fall into that category in the slightest. Catherine Zeta-Jones is at her absolute best as Velma Kelly in this provocative musical where the women are criminals and the men are slimeballs who deserved to die. Alongside Renee Zellweger and Queen Latifah, Zeta-Jones shows off her singing and acting chops, making sure everyone knows she can be more than a pretty face.
The soundtrack is amazing in this movie, but above that, Zeta-Jones exudes female confidence and power; she doesn't take anything from anybody. Her sister and her husband were cheating behind her back, so she killed them and is now working to get herself out of prison by playing the sweet and innocent card. The film, made from a Broadway musical, plays on stereotypes: the innocent woman, the slimeball man and the slippery lawyer. As much as I hate perpetuating stereotypes, this movie shows people what happens when you follow them, and how if a person plays to them they can get away with anything. Don't miss this film because it's a musical; it's definitely worth the constant singing and dancing breaks.