Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love” is a valentine to that city, rendered through a series of semi-connected stories set in the Italian hub.
It’s light and frothy, mixing silliness, romance, magic realism and absurdity. It may not be Allen’s most cohesive film, but it has its charms (and its flaws), nonetheless. (More…)
Military sexual assault is one of those seemingly hidden crimes, the outcry against it muffled by the blanket of the got-your-back, brothers-in-arms credo that seems endemic to the American military.
Kirby Dick’s shocking documentary, “The Invisible War,” details a small part of what seems like, at minimum, an epidemic – not just of sexual assault in the military but of the close-ranks mentality that keeps the outrage from bubbling into public view more often than it does. (More…)
Pre-apocalyptic films tend to be thrillers: Yikes, the world is about to end – how can we escape or avert imminent disaster?
But Lorene Scafaria’s “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” strikes a different chord: one that is wistfully romantic, a little melancholy and unexpectedly funny.
Not fall-out-of-your-chair funny. But unexpectedly funny nonetheless: Within this obviously downbeat setting, people go on with their lives – or step out of their lives – in ways that are human and, as a result, amusing. (More…)
It’s noteworthy that Disney/Pixar’s “Brave,” opening Friday (6/22/12), is the first Pixar feature – and the first Disney animated feature in a while – to focus on a heroine, rather than a hero. And not a heroine whose fate is somehow bound up with romance – that’s a crucial distinction.
Even more noteworthy: “Brave” shows Pixar has its groove back, after the deadly misfire of “Cars 2.” (More…)
Even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while.
And there aren’t many blinder than Adam Sandler – or his fans.
Sandler does find a few acorns – make that laughs – in “That’s My Boy,” his latest cinematic extrusion. Few of them are provided by him, however. Nor are there nearly enough of them in this flabby, bloated comedy to change your mind if you, like me, are not a particular fan of Sandler’s self-generated films. (More…)
“Rock of Ages” is technically a jukebox musical: a stage presentation of comedy, drama and song in which, instead of using original songs, the writers build a story out of existing music, re-purposing it to retrofit a plot or a plot point. Think “Mamma Mia.”
But really, the jukebox that matters is the list of songs on videogames like “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero.” They seem to make up the soundtrack for “Rock of Ages,” both in its long-running Broadway incarnation and now in the new film version. (More…)
I settled in for the screening of “Marina Abramovic The Artist is Present,” with the same skepticism I’d had when I went to see her retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, which the film documents.
But I came away feeling chastened – mostly that I’d been so dismissive of Abramovic’s work when I saw it in person and didn’t take advantage of the chance to engage with it when I had it. (More…)
Lynn Shelton had me at “Humpday,” the feature that introduced me to the intuitively funny filmmaker, who comes back strong with “Your Sister’s Sister,” opening in limited release Friday (6/15/12).
Working once again with Mark Duplass, Shelton brings Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt into the mix, in a story of unspoken and unintentional attraction. Shelton’s loose, natural approach to acting and scene structure is meant to be instinctive. And Shelton should definitely trust her instincts. (More…)
I’m not sure why, but no one has been willing or able to speak truth to box-office power, so let me try:
Robert Pattinson is a terrible actor.
Oh, he’s pretty enough, with his sleepy eyes and pouty lips. Let him play a vampire in the “Twilight” series and he’s fine, for two reasons:
1) He’s doing a James Dean impression.
2) He’s sharing most of his scenes with Kristen Stewart, who has such a vital screen presence that he benefits from reflected glory.
But put him at the center of an actual movie – as opposed to something presold and predigested like the “Twilight” films – and he’s revealed as an empty pretty boy, a black hole of talent.
If you don’t believe that, go back and look at “Little Ashes,” where he was embarrassing as a young Salvador Dali; or “Remember Me,” a forgettable 9/11 romance; or “Water for Elephants,” in which he was chewed to pieces by a scenery-gobbling Christoph Waltz (and the elephants themselves).
Or watch him in the new “Bel Ami,” which opened in limited release 6/8/12, in which he alternately smirks and pouts as a Belle Epoque social-climber. Adapted from a novel by Guy de Maupassant by a pair of directors – Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod – “Bel Ami” follows Pattinson’s character, Georges Duroy, as he clambers from a roach-infested garret to the poshest chambers in 1890 Paris. (More…)
Greta Gerwig is a cross between a younger Chloe Sevigny and a young Meg Ryan. She’s somehow backed into semi-“It” girl status, at least among boosters of a certain segment of independent film.
She comes off mostly as off-puttingly self-pitying and mopey in “Lola Versus,” a self-consciously quirky-moody rom-drom. Rom-drone is more like it. Here’s a movie that has to compete for your attention WHILE you’re watching it. (More…)