I’ll admit I’ve never seen any of the movies from the comedy troupe Broken Lizard, which include such deathless titles as “Super-Troopers,” “Beerfest” and “The Slammin’ Salmon.”
And now, on the basis of “The Babymakers,” I’m not likely to. It’s not as if these films have been bubbling around the underground circuit, building long-term word-of-mouth, the way something like “Wet Hot American Summer” has over the years. Having missed that film when it was released in 2001, I eventually circled back and checked it out, 10 years later, to discover that it was, in fact, deeply overrated. (More…)
There inevitably will be comparisons between “Celeste and Jesse Forever” and “(500) Days of Summer,” and that’s not a bad thing.
Both are about intense relationships between young adults that end – and yet go on. Both are stories of love that has grown one-sided. And both ache with the unavoidable self-pity that goes along with that kind of situation – while finding the laughs in that same circumstance. (More…)
Modern art long ago stopped being about recreating an image of reality and became about ideas. The key question always seems to be: Is art the thing itself? Or the idea of the thing?
But what if you live in a society where the very ideas you harbor are punishable by imprisonment – or worse? How much of being an artist becomes about simply having the courage to express your ideas in verbal or physical form?
That’s the notion at the heart of “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” a compelling documentary about the Chinese contemporary artist who seems to spend his life on a blade’s edge, dancing on a knife that’s in the hands of the government of the People’s Republic of China. (More…)
He won a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for “August: Osage County,” a tale of family dysfunction that was scathing and dark. But that wasn’t playwright Tracy Letts’ first foray into the brutal dynamics of family strife: Consider his play, now a film, called “Killer Joe.” (More…)
“Ruby Sparks” could be a tasty bit of magical realism in romantic-comedy form, the first produced screenplay by actress Zoe Kazan, who plays the title character. Except for one serious problem.
Directed by the “Little Miss Sunshine” team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, “Ruby Sparks” should be the charming tale of one man’s imagination made flesh. The man is a writer, Calvin Weir-Fields – but the problem with this movie is the casting of this central role. Calvin is played by Paul Dano, an actor who, with only a couple of exceptions, seems to give the same performance over and over again. (More…)
The strangeness of truth compared to the limits of the human imagination gets a crystalline demonstration in Malik Bendjelloul’s “Searching for Sugar Man,” an award-winner at Sundance that lives up to the hype, opening in limited release Friday (7/27/12).
If you haven’t heard the hype – or if you haven’t seen the trailers for this film – then stop reading now after I say this: See this movie. Search for it. Make a special effort to find it – and don’t let anyone tell you its secret. Because – spoiler alert – I’m about to do that, though no further than the trailers do. (More…)
Schadenfreude, the feeling of happiness at the misfortunes of another, is a tempting thing – mean-spirited, to be sure, but tempting, nonetheless. That’s particularly true when dealing with characters like the ones at the center of Lauren Greenfield’s stunning documentary, “The Queen of Versailles.”
But it’s hard to feel any joy at the cascading troubles visited upon Jackie and David Siegel, who let Greenfield and her cameras into their lives shortly after the economy crashed in late 2008 – taking David Siegel’s billionaire fortune with it. You feel pity, yes; and you get the occasional laugh (OK, more than occasional) at Jackie’s chipper cluelessness. But schadenfreude? Not so much.
“The Queen of Versailles” chronicles the Siegels’ travails from early 2009 into 2011. (More…)
The less said about Alexis Lloyd’s “30 Beats,” the better. (More…)
You don’t have to believe in the paranormal to be intrigued by the premise of Rodrigo Cortes’ “Red Lights,” now playing in limited release.
And you don’t have to be a nonbeliever to find the conclusion that this effort-laden film reaches unsatisfactory – indeed, to find it frustrating and disappointing. (More…)
There’s a certain rowdy spirit to Stephen Gyllenhaal’s “Grassroots,” now playing in limited release, that gives the fact-based comedy-drama a surprising vitality for a movie that seems so schematic.
Based on a true story, the film stars Jason Biggs as a journalist named Phil Campbell, who is fired from his job as a reporter for an alternative weekly in Seattle during the summer of 2001. He lives with his girlfriend Emily (Lauren Ambrose) in a house with several other people and he’s got few prospects – until he gets a call from a pal named Grant Cogswell (Joel David Moore). (More…)