Posts Tagged ‘Abigail Breslin’

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abilgail Breslin

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abilgail Breslin

“MAGGIE”  My rating: C+

95 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Not only does “Maggie” offer a “serious” look at the zombie apocalypse, but it features Arnold Schwarzenegger in what may prove to be his best performance.

Makes me wish I liked the movie more.

Short on mayhem and long on angst, this debut feature from writer John Scott and director Henry Hobson stars Schwarzenegger as Wade, a Midwestern farmer who braves a terrible pestilence to drive to the big city (Kansas City, we’re told) and retrieve his teenage daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin). She has contracted the mysterious disease and is being held in a special hospital ward.

The big brains call the bug the necroambulist virus — basically it turns human beings into zombies over the course of several weeks.  What makes this so terrible is that those bitten know they are doomed, that little by little they will lose their individuality and become snarling, stumbling monsters.

Wade brings Maggie back to the farm he shares with his second wife, Caroline (Joely Richardson), and their  two young children. For the wee ones’ safety they  are sent off to live with a relative  while Maggie  deteriorates.  When the disease reaches a certain stage — but while she still has her wits about her — emergency rules dictate that she will be taken by the local police to a camp where the infected will be destroyed.

Sounds grim…and it is.


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Julianne Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts

Julianne Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts

“AUGUST:  OSAGE COUNTY”  My rating: C+ (Opens wide on Jan. 10)

121 minutes | MPAA rating R

Some stories were meant to be performed on a stage.

For instance, the plays of Sam Shepard, which deliver moments of violence and affrontery you almost never see in live theater. A Shepard character might be required to beat a typewriter to death with a golf club, smash dozens of glass bottles just feet from the folks in the front row, or urinate on his little sister’s science project in full view of the paying customers.

If those things happened in a movie, you’d shrug. No big deal.  In a movie you can do anything.

But seeing those moments play out live, in the flesh, while you brace yourself to dodge flying glass shards or broken typewriter keys…well, that has a way of focusing your mind most wonderfully.

I thought of Shepard’s plays while watching John Wells’ screen version of “August: Osage County,” Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer-winning black comedy about an Oklahoma clan assembled to bury its patriarch (played, ironically enough, by  Sam Shepard).  In the same way that Shepard’s  plays almost never make satisfying movies, “August: Osage County” makes an uncomfortable transition to the screen.

First, don’t buy into the TV ads that make it look like a rollicking comedy.  There are laughs here, yeah, but they’re the sort of laughs you can choke on. Dourness is the order of the day.

In adapting his play Letts has boiled a 3 1/2 hour production down to 2 hours. Stuff’s been left out — character development, carefully calibrated pauses — and while the essence of the play remains, it feels curiously underwhelming.


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