In "Lost River," Billie(Christina Hendricks) is told by Dave(Ben… MoreIn "Lost River," Billie(Christina Hendricks) is told by Dave(Ben Mendelsohn), her bank manager, that she is in danger of losing her home, like so many around her. While there seems little chance for her to be able to come up with all the money she owes on her own, Dave does know of a place that is hiring. Meanwhile, Billie's teenage son, Bones(Iain De Caestecker), earns money by stripping wiring from abandoned properties all around town, earning the ire of Bully(Matt Smith).
As a director with his first feature "Lost River," Ryan Gosling shows a remarkable eye for memorable imagery, creating a post-apocalyptic fantasia out of the urban ruins of Detroit. Sadly, his writing is not on the same high level, with random story elements floating around in purely Lynchian fashion. That's with performances to match, with Saoirse Ronan and Ben Mendelsohn(who also sings and dances) faring best.
After Collette(Andrea Riseborough) attempts to bomb a busy London… MoreAfter Collette(Andrea Riseborough) attempts to bomb a busy London Underground station, she is detained by authorities. At first, it appears that Mac(Clive Owen) just wants to talk with her and share some files and photos with her. That is all in the service of getting her to inform on some of her colleagues who are less than thrilled with the continuing peace process. As leverage, he uses the thought of her son having to travel hundreds of miles to visit her in prison.
As much as car chases, gun fights and explosions can hinder a movie when it wants to have an intelligent discussion about an important subject, the banal and uninspired "Shadow Dancer" proves in slow moving abundance how bad the other extreme can be in sucking all of the oxygen out of the room. In this case, it involves people making life and death decisions and watching as other life changing ones are made without any kind of emotional reaction in the least. In the process, this also ends up wasting the talents of Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough.
"The One that Got Away" starts with Oberleutnant Franz Von Werra(Hardy… More"The One that Got Away" starts with Oberleutnant Franz Von Werra(Hardy Kruger) crash landing his airplane in England. When he sees the man with the meat cleaver running towards him, he knows the gig is up and surrenders promptly. But he has no intention of sticking around long for the polite English interrogation, promptly requesting a move to a prison camp. That's before he makes a bet with an English commanding officer that he will successfully escape.
You can have your gaudy special effects. I'll take some good old fashioned exciting filmmaking like which is featured in "The One that Got Away," directed as well as it is by Roy Ward Baker, even if it does start a little slow.(Great title, too.) For my money's worth, Von Werra making a break for it is the most breathtaking sequence I have seen in a good long time. While there are hints to his backstory, this is also detailed in life on the homefront of England during World War II where men do not listen to women at their own peril.(Short of the current television series "Manhattan," this is also one of the few post-war entertainments that connects the World Wars.) As far as Von Werra who survived on pure bravado goes, this was actually only part of his journey, as the endnote puts it with no shortage of irony.
In "Antiviral," you must excuse Syd March(Caleb Landry Jones) for… MoreIn "Antiviral," you must excuse Syd March(Caleb Landry Jones) for feeling ill today. He has injected a celebrity virus into himself, in order to get it past security at the clinic where he works, so he can sell it on the black market. Luckily for him, he is not the worker who gets caught smuggling. So, he gets promoted to pay a house call to Hannah Geist(Sarah Gadon) to collect her latest virus.
Admittedly, "Antiviral" does have a creepy atmosphere and a creepier Malcolm McDowell. But its story really does not add up to much. However, it does have one truly great idea. Which is that celebrity culture is in fact a very contagious and dangerous virus. After all, Bill Hicks did say that humanity is a virus with shoes.
"If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." - Florynce… More"If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." - Florynce Kennedy
In "A Slightly Pregnant Man," Marco(Marcello Mastroianni) runs his own driving school. His wife Irene(Catherine Deneuve) is a hairdresser. One night at the theatre they have to leave when Marco falls ill. When he sees Dr. Delavigne(Micheline Presle), she sends him to a specialist who confirms that he is in fact four months pregnant.
"A Slightly Pregnant Man" shows that there is potential in using a silly premise like the above in addressing the changing gender roles in society. But while there is an intelligent discussion about abortion, the movie is wrong when it says that gay men and lesbians cannot have families. Otherwise, writer-director Jacques Demy seems content to rest on the single joke of Marcello Mastroianni being pregnant. Which might have actually been enough to squeeze by, if the ending had not been such a huge cop out.
In "Easier with Practice," Davy(Brian Geraghty) is on his not quite… MoreIn "Easier with Practice," Davy(Brian Geraghty) is on his not quite sold out tour of New Mexico bookstores, peddling his collection of short stories, and accompanied by his brother Sean(Kel O'Neill). One night, while Sean steps out, Davy answers the phone and talks to a woman he does not know named Nicole(Kathryn Aselton). What originally starts as a wrong number soon turns erotic for both parties. And that's not the only time they talk.
While "Easier with Practice" starts badly and ends much worse, about ten minutes beyond the point of no return in overexplaining who Nicole is/isn't, there is still a thoughtful movie in between about loneliness and a character study about somebody who is so damaged that he can be lonely in crowded room. It's interesting to note that none of this exactly happens in a vacuum, with the movie gradually revealing Davy's backstory as it goes on.
In "Behind Convent Walls," the Abbess(Gabriella Giacobbe) does her… MoreIn "Behind Convent Walls," the Abbess(Gabriella Giacobbe) does her best at keeping order at a convent in 19th century Italy but can only do so much, like blindfolding Silva(Alessandro Partexano) when he comes in to make repairs and deliveries. In fact, she goes so far as to get rid of a violin belonging to one of the nuns, causing more than a good deal of resentment amongst her charges. At least, she does not have to worry about her niece Clara(Ligia Branice).
Even as it is kind of hard to differentiate between the characters at times and the plot such as it is pretty much imploding at the end, "Behind Convent Walls" is not bad for a prime example of nunsploitation(that's the term Film Comment digital editor Violet Lucca used in introducing the movie). The movie actually seeks to explore the retired practice of the daughters of nobility being sent to convents against their will. At the same time, the filmmakers literally bend themselves over backwards to get naked yoga into the story.
"5 to 7" starts with Brian(Anton Yelchin), an aspiring writer, risking… More"5 to 7" starts with Brian(Anton Yelchin), an aspiring writer, risking life and limb to cross a street in New York City to talk to Arielle(Berenice Marlohe) who is not only beautiful and French but also taller and older. Luckily, his 'Little Mermaid' pickup line does not backfire and they agree to meet in the same place the following week. She also says they can get together elsewhere but only during the hours of 5 and 7 which is the result of an arrangement she has with her husband Valery(Lambert Wilson), a diplomat.
The final line of "5 to 7"(relax, no spoilers here) is that every book is written for just one person. The same feels true for this movie because as appealing as it can be, it can also be just as infuriating at times.
Overall, this is a charming romantic comedy that is refreshingly open minded, led by its two charismatic leads and helped by its quality supporting cast, especially Glenn Close who by default might be doing some of her best work here in a long time.
On the other hand, "5 to 7" turns out to be quite cynical in the end which is no less sad, even though the world probably does work this way.(But it does pave the way for an amazing real life cameo.) And do kid writers still only dream of being published in magazines today?
At the beginning of the biographical documentary "How Sweet the… MoreAt the beginning of the biographical documentary "How Sweet the Sound," Joan Baez remarks how many people think they know her but don't really know her. That could not be any more true.
The documentary does an excellent job of correcting that while shining a spotlight on her life and times. For example, an archival clip has her saying she wants to be thought of as a human being first, pacifist second and folk singer third.
As a folk singer, Baez had a variety of musical influences that also extended to include Harry Belafonte and Odetta.(Baez also does a spot-on impression of Bob Dylan.) They also influenced her political activism. That extended beyond simply writing protest songs and raising money. She was on the front lines of the peace and civil rights movements where she leveraged her front page Time Magazine celebrity to bring cameras where they would not ordinarily go. Along with the obligatory North Vietnam tour, that would also include escorting students to newly integrated schools in Mississippi and seeking to persuade draftees to desert before they got shipped off to Vietnam.(While the last risked jail time and physical violence, it is also where Baez met her husband.) That would not stop with the end of the sixties as she also traveled to Sarajevo while it was under siege to sing Amazing Grace in an open street.
So, who is Harry Nilsson?
That's a question this informative and… MoreSo, who is Harry Nilsson?
That's a question this informative and breezy documentary seeks to answer, after starting with the tantalizing opening of Dustin Hoffman announcing Nilsson's premature death onstage at a benefit while mentioning the vocals Nilsson provided for the film "Midnight Cowboy."
In fact, of all the songs he wrote and sung, Nilsson was best known for "One" which was inspired by of all things a telephone's busy signal and popularized by the band Three Dog Night.(I'm partial to the Aimee Mann version myself.) Otherwise, his friends and loved ones regale with stories of his wild partying while never losing sight of the family he raised.
Otherwise, the documentary is too dismissive of his work on behalf of the gun control movement, which Nilsson took up after the tragic slaying of John Lennon.(Nilsson and the Beatles had a mutual appreciation and friendship.) Otherwise, there is much speculation, especially in the sour grapes and amateur psychology departments, about Nilsson not being able to sustain his success. But sometimes there is no easy explanation.