La Chienne (Jean Renoir) ***1/2 - The title means "The Bitch". A timid to a fault bank cashier with a shrill, tyrannical wife falls in love with a prostitute who in turn is conning him for her pimp, whom SHE is in love with. French actor Michel Simon is terrific as the cashier. Even though the film essentially focuses on three rather unlikeable characters, it still manages to keep them human and interesting and the story quite compelling: Sad, tragic, frustrating and even a darkly humorous. It's not my favorite Renoir but it's a solid film.
Battleship (Peter Berg) **1/2 - I
had low expectations coming into this film. I would have to say that
this is Michael Bay-lite. It's got most of the tropes of a Michael Bay
movie with less sexism, homopobia, racism and obnoxious humor that often
goes along with it. The film is highly predictable and the script is
strictly of Screenwriting 101 variety with the expected script problems
of a film of this magnitude has: cliche, groan inducing lines,
ridiculous plot developments, etc. But still, with my low expectations, I
found it to be entertaining with a couple of pretty good action set
pieces. Taylor Kitsch further shows that he's got potential to be a
great movie star (though this will not be the one) and Rihanna acquits
herself well in her acting debut. Overall, inoffensive but unremarkable.