Alice in Wonderland (2010) -vs- Avatar (2009)

March 16, 2010 Sherry Coben

I confess I’d happily watch Johnny Depp read a phone book, but even accounting for my extreme prejudice, his performance as the Mad Hatter is the linchpin of the piece. He is its heart, its Scarecrow, its Tin Man. Acting through crazily tinted contacts and a crowning frizz of unfortunate and unearthly ginger, Depp somehow manages to play a compelling leading man, a romantic lead, and an action hero. (His promised triumphant Futterwacken is a dire misfire and huge disappointment, a limp noodle of a magical victory dance.)
The rest of the cast performs admirably enough. Anne Hathaway Glindas it up as the White Queen, Crispin Glover plays the Knave of Hearts as elongated creepy courtier, and Helena Bonham Carter goes ghostly pale once again, this time a vain and giant-noggined Red Queen. She’s delicious and mordantly funny, and her decapitated head-filled moat provides enough nightmare food to keep kiddie nightlights burning for a good long time.
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An Education (2009) -vs- A Single Man (2009)

January 28, 2010 Sherry Coben

It’s 1962, stylishly retro and way cool. TV’s Mad Men have paved the cultural way for two more stellar entries in the Sex And The Sixties pantheon. With the swinging sixties looming right on the horizon, Los Angeles college literature professor George (Colin Firth) and sixteen year old suburban London student Jenny (Carey Mulligan) fumble their un-merry ways through the rough-and-tumble terrain of love, loss, secrets, and sexual experience. Both lead performances have stirred up considerable Academy Award buzz, but they’re unlikely to compete head to head anywhere but right here. Dewy Maiden with Distinct Audrey Hepburn Echoes takes on World-Weary Confirmed Bachelor with a Not-So-Secret Secret. The winner? A grateful arthouse (and beyond) audience.
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