The Bling Ring

Not much going on in The Bling Ring. It’s an hour and a half of high school kids in Los Angeles robbing stars’ homes, smoking dope, snorting coke, Facebooking and partying. Everything happens to the accompaniment of a contemporary, mostly hip-hop, soundtrack. And then they get caught. The End.

Their modus operandi is to monitor gossip websites, find out when famous stars are out of town, Google their addresses and break in. It’s all too easy. These stars apparently haven’t heard about security alarms and systems that summon police when tripped. Paris Hilton leaves a key under her front doormat. That’s hot! She also apparently leaves her dog and pet monkey at home alone. This movie is supposedly based on true events.

The clothes and the shoes and the bling and the stars homes are spectacular. Some of the cars, including a Porsche that gets taken for a joyride, are also nice.

The five kids pulling off these capers (four girls and a boy) are based in Calabasas, in the hills just west of L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. They are little more than caricatures. The best-known star in the movie is Emma Watson, who stars as Nicki, a party girl. Rebecca (Katie Chang) is the ringleader. Marc (Israel Broussard), a young man who seems to be coming to grips with his sexual orientation, is the geek who follows stars activities online.

Director Sofia Coppola’s movie is mainly about settings and props. The capers and the loot are the focal points, not the characters. Among the movie’s best scenes is a long static shot that shows Rebecca and Marc running around inside Audrina Partidge’s home in the Hollywood Hills, up and down stairs, lights flashing on and off. It stands out in contrast to the film’s otherwise frenetic pace.

Coppola’s movie rubs up against real life by mentioning the stars names whose homes are robbed: Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Orlando Bloom, among others.

But the action that drives the movie’s flimsy plot is repetitious. Home invasion after home invasion, looting after looting, party after party. As someone once said about a boring city, “There’s no there there.” There’s not much there here in The Bling Ring either.

Rated R.

My Week With Marilyn—(Blonde on Blonde)

This story is supposedly true. Doesn’t matter. True or not, it’s a good story.

How big a star was Marilyn Monroe in the 1950’s? Ask your grandfather. He’ll tell you. Mainstream movies did not have nude scenes in the 50’s. But they did have Marilyn. With her blonde hair, big lips and voluptuous body, she exuded sex. She was a megastar.

Michelle Williams is not a dead ringer for Marilyn, but the hair and makeup people and the costumers give her the Marilyn look. What she does with that look is amazing. She brings the Marilyn persona to life, complete with her insecurities and fragile ego. This is an impressive performance. Award-worthy? Yes.

British actor Eddie Redmayne stars as Colin, a recent college grad who nabs a gig as third assistant director on the movie “The Prince and the Showgirl.” His duties as a “go-fer” eventually include tending to many of Marilyn’s needs, much to the dismay of her longtime support team. He provides companionship and emotional support during an uncomfortable episode in her life and career. Quite a heady experience for a 23-year-old in 1956!

“The Prince and the Showgirl” matched Marilyn with Laurence Olivier, who starred and directed. He needed her for her beauty and sex appeal; she needed him to certify her talent as an actress. Their relationship was stormy due to his being upset with her tardiness and failure to remember lines. She, meanwhile, was intimidated by his legend and strict demands. Kenneth Branagh does an excellent job portraying Olivier.

In “My Week with Marilyn,” however, as in “The Prince and the Showgirl,” the blonde bombshell upstages the British acting legend. These movies belong to Michelle/Marilyn.

Of special note in “My Week with Marilyn” is Emma Watson’s debut in a non-Hermione Granger role. She has a minor part as a costumer who competes with Marilyn for Colin’s time and attention. She picked a good movie to begin her transition.