Thumbnails Nov 14
by Tony Medley
William H. Macy’s directorial debut is a smash! This is a sensitive,
poignant tale of Billy Crudup, a successful man who descends into
drunkenness after a family tragedy and is rescued by discovering his
deceased son’s music. As he gets involved his life takes meaning, but
that’s not the end of the story. The music is good and Macy keeps
admirable pace and gets first rate performances from Crudup and Anton
Yelchin, both of whom perform their own singing and playing, with fine
supporting performances from Felicity Huffman, Laurence Fishburne, and
Macy himself. This is one of the best films I’ve seen this year.
Chick flick or no, I loved it. Keira Knightley is an amazing actress.
She does things with her eyes that provide mirrors to the soul of her
characters. And Chloë Grace Moretz is not far behind her. For one of
such tender years, her two roles this year, as a prostitute in “The
Equalizer” and a kind of wild teenager here, display an admirable range.
Sam Rockwell, Jeff Weber, and Jeff Garlin round out the cast with
equally persuasive performances.
The Judge (9/10):
Finally Robert Downey takes some time off from squandering his God-given
talent on the deplorable “Sherlock Holmes” franchise and superhero
twaddle like “Iron Man,” and takes on a role more befitting his talent.
To see him with Robert Duvall, a good script, and fine director is long
St. Vincent (8/10):
Outstanding performances by Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, newcomer
Jaeden Lieberher, and Naomi Watts as a Russian prostitute, highlight
this moving, funny tale of an unlikely alignment of a cantankerous older
man and an 11-year-old boy who understands him like no other person does
or even tries.
This has the Alpha and Omega of World War II movies. For the Omega,
director David Ayer has the war completely stop when any of the main
characters dies so the audience can hear their Hollywood-scripted
farewell speeches, aping scenes from Terrence Malick’s dismal remake of
James Jones’ “The Thin Red Line” (1998). But the Alpha more than
makes up for this as it is probably one of the most realistic depictions
of war battles ever filmed, and that’s most of the movie, well worth the
price of admission.
Gone Girl (7/10):
The problem with “Gone Girl” is that it pales in comparison with
the bestselling book. It’s not that Ben Affleck and Rosamond Pike are
not delightful incarnations of Nick and Amy Dunne or that the supporting
cast is not equally pleasing (except for an unconvincing Neil Patrick
Harris). What’s disappointing is that in the first
half of the movie Nick is not nearly as unsympathetic nor Amy as
sympathetic as in the book. Worse, Gillian Flynn, who wrote both book
and screenplay, changed the ending so that readers of the book “would
not lose interest.” That makes no sense because by the end of the movie
they will either have lost interest or not, and, given the gender point
they’re trying to make, it’s disingenuous. Regardless, this is a fine,
entertaining movie on its own.
Force Majeure (5/10):
The movie is filled with allegories if you’re looking for them, and the
ending has all sorts of interpretations one could make. There are some
funny lines, some beautiful scenes of people skiing, and it is
interesting, but the story doesn’t justify a film of almost two hours
duration, which is what one often gets when, as here, a writer (Ruben
Öslund) directs his own script and can’t bring it upon himself to cut
anything because he finds the writing so wonderful. In Swedish and
Dracula Untold (3/10):
There’s a good reason why it was untold.