Thumbnails Jun 14
actor John Slattery makes his feature film directorial debut
impressively by converting Pete Dexter’s 1983 novel into a dark,
well-paced film highlighted by wonderful acting by a talented cast,
headlined by Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last roles. Good as
Hoffman is, however, the ones who really hit the mark are Christina
Hendricks as his unhappy, troubled wife, and Caleb Landry Jones who
gives an award-quality performance as Christina’s scary, mentally
unbalanced son. It’s not a happy story, but the acting is memorable.
Coppola, in her directorial debut (she also wrote the script based on
several stories by James Franco, who also appears as a charming but
morally corrupt soccer coach), is not unlike her aunt Sofia in making a
film that at first appearances makes one feel lost in a Terence Malick-inspired
languidity. But while the film is slow, it is not uninvolving, with a
pervasive feeling of impending tragedy. Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer (Val’s
son), and Nat Wolff give standout performances. Middle aged Franco’s
pursuit of teenager Roberts is appropriately creepy. Off of this, Gia
looks like a real comer as a director.
are lots of shots of people thinking, mostly Jesse Eisenberg, who seems
to seek out roles like this with a range that barely gets past A (e.g.
“The Social Network”). While a little bit of that goes a long way, his
thoughtful, mostly non-verbal, process adds to the mounting tension as
problems mount and the only way out seems beyond the pale. Eisenberg is
overshadowed by Dakota Fanning’s sensitive performance and Peter
Sarsgaard’s excellent turn as a loose cannon. Compared with other films
in which people think most of the time, this one is well above the norm.
Amazing Spiderman 2 (4/10):
Lowlighted by an absence of sparks between putative lovers Emma Stone
and Andrew Garfield, neither IMAX nor 3D adds much to the film, which is
devoted in large part to special effects. The 3D is pretty much
unnoticeable except for the few times that explosions cause particles to
fly out in the audience’s faces, a passé trick first foisted on
audiences back at the dawn of 3D in Bwana Devil (1952), which, as
I recall, was more enjoyable than this.
Love Punch (3/10):
a scintilla of chemistry between former spouses Pierce Brosnan and Emma
Thompson who are supposed to be falling back in love, this attempt at a
caper romantic comedy is appallingly implausible, despite a charming
opening that is a subtle homage to Brosnan’s stint as James Bond, and
beautiful cinematography of the Parisian and French Riviera locations.
it boasts a talented cast (people like Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche,
Ken Watanabe, and David Strathairn), one wonders why? Consisting of
virtually nothing but special effects (in fact, I don’t remember a word
spoken in the last 45 minutes), even if new director Gareth Edwards had
the perspicacity to cut an hour from the film, the remaining 60 minutes
would still have been too long.
irresponsible, unfunny film is filled with scenes to appeal to sexually
naïve teenaged boys to try to make them titter in embarrassment with
sexual themes, relying on cheap sex jokes and foul language as a
substitute for humor. There are lots of rutting scenes as well as hordes
of college kids partying. This is entertainment? Zac Efron (now a
shirtless hunk to enchant teenaged girls) has made disappointing choices
since he made such an auspicious appearance in 2008’s Me and Orson
Welles when he was 21.