Film Review: OBVIOUS CHILD Jul04

Film Review: OBVIOUS CHILD

Directed by Gillian Robespierre Written by Gillian Robespierre Starring: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gabby Hoffman, David Cross, Polly Draper, Richard Kind Slate plays a 27 year old stand-up comic in OBVIOUS CHILD who finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand. It is clear from the beginning that the only option she considers for herself is an abortion. But her road to the abortion is a painful one, a difficult journey we rarely see now that the typical movie has the pregnant woman decide to have the child. Slate is not so easy to like—her comedy routines are brutally scatological and honest, much like Louie C.K. But it is harder to hear...

Film Review: COLD IN JULY Jun27

Film Review: COLD IN JULY

Directed by Jim Mickle Written by Nick Damici, based on the novel by Joe R. Lansdale Starring: Michael C Hall, Sam Shepard, Don Johnson, Vinessa Shaw Richard Dane (Hall) runs a picture framing business back in the eighties and his life is inalterably changed one night when he shoots and kills an intruder. The intruder’s father (Shepard), newly paroled, come after Dane and his wife (Shaw) and young son. When Dane and Russel find some incongruities in their story, they join forces to make sense of their situation with the help of an old friend Jim Bob (Johnson) I enjoyed the first forty minutes of this film. It was a tight, tense story...

Film Review: PALO ALTO Jun20

Film Review: PALO ALTO

Palo Alto Directed by Gia Coppola Written by Gia Coppola, based on the short stories by James Franco Starring: Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer, Nat Wolff, Zoe Levin, James Franco, Val Kilmer Based on Franco’s short stories of the same title, this film often feels like a series of vignettes. But somehow, it works. Perhaps it’s the talented direction of Coppola, perhaps it’s the seriousness with which it treats its disaffected teens, or maybe it’s the lovely cinematography. It starts badly with a scene we have been witness to so many times. The teen party: drugs, drinking, sex, bullying, bragging, all the usual stuff. We have been there both in...

Film Review: EDGE OF TOMORROW Jun13

Film Review: EDGE OF TOMORROW

EDGE OF TOMORROW Directed by Doug Liman Written By, Alex Kurtzman, Christopher McQuarrie, D.W. Harper, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, etc. Starring: Bill Paxton, Emily Blunt, Tom Cruise, Brendan Gleeson Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) who has never seen a day of combat, is drafted into a suicide mission and bumped down to a private. Killed within minutes, Cage finds himself in a time loop that has him living the same brutal combat over and over, repeatedly fighting, dying and waking up to begin again. But with each battle, Cage gets smarter in how to outthink his alien adversaries with increasing combat skill and intelligence. Special Forces warrior,...

Film Review: THE IMMIGRANT Jun06

Film Review: THE IMMIGRANT

Directed by James Gray Written By Richard Menello and James Gray Starring: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner You can read a good review of this movie in almost any publication. But I cannot write one. For me this story of an Polish immigrant (Cotillard) coming to Ellis Island and being rescued (supposedly) by Bruno, an impresario of a sleazy, cheesy strip-show and prostitution ring, is riddled with cliché, tonal problems and inconsistency in character. It feels fake in almost every frame. The movie wants it both ways with almost every character. Ewa is both wily and innocent. Bruno (Phoenix) is a scoundrel, a cheat, a...

Film Review: NEIGHBORS May30

Film Review: NEIGHBORS

NEIGHBORS Directed by Nicholas Stoller Written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Ike Barinholtz, Dave Franco   Last week I had the experiences of liking a movie I expected to dislike and hating a movie I expect to enjoy. This was the one I was surprised to like. I had to drag my husband along because comedies about men refusing to grow up have become his least favorite genre. And this is that kind of movie, but it handles its themes in surprising ways and great writing makes the medicine go down. The acting is fine too. Rogen and Bryne play a couple with a young baby that buys their...

Film Review: LOCKE May23

Film Review: LOCKE

Written and Directed by Steven Knight Starring: Tom Hardy This is the kind of film that is rarely made: a character study that places one man alone in a car for 85 minutes. It is nighttime and his only companion is the constant stream of phone calls he makes and receives. Each interaction adds to his stress level, and the viewer, of course, anticipates an accident, a chase, something that will put him over the edge. We learn almost immediately that a woman Ivan Locke has impregnated is in the hospital having his baby. This is where he’s headed, but it’s only one of the events that occur. To tell you much more about the plot would only serve...

Film Review: UNDER THE SKIN May09

Film Review: UNDER THE SKIN

Directed by Jonathan Glazer Written by Walter Campbell and Michel Faber Starring Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor, Adam Pearson Music, cinematography, and narrative work together well in UNDER THE SKIN to provide a wonderfully satisfying experience for those who can tolerate ambiguity in a movie. Johansson plays a sister from another planet that lands on earth with the sole task of picking up men and taking them to her secret place. And it’s not the secret place they anticipate. The roads she cruises relentlessly are in Scotland and a lot of men seem to be available on the highways she travels each night: men who look...

Film Review: FINDING VIVIAN MAIER May02

Film Review: FINDING VIVIAN MAIER

Directed and Written by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel In 2007, a young scholar, John Maloof, writing a history of his Chicago neighborhood, came upon a treasure trove of negatives that he hoped would help him in his research. When he got around to examining them, they turned out to be the work of a Vivian Maier, a nanny in the Chicago area, only recently dead. He managed to buy more of her work, most of it never developed, and found Maier to be an impressive photographer whose work had never been seen publicly. In fact, Maier never seemed to make any attempt to have a gallery show. She was eccentric, mysterious, friendless. Maloof sets out...

Film Review: LONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE Apr25

Film Review: LONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE

Written and Directed by Jim Jarmusch Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin Your enjoyment of ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE is going to hinge on whether you are a Jarmusch fan, and on whether you can enjoy atmosphere and style over plot. The plot is fragmentary to say the least. Adam lives in a dilapidated gothic house in Detroit and Eve inhabits the streets of Tangiers. Both are vampires and have a relationship lasting centuries. When Adam exhibits signs of perhaps a lethal ennui, Eve flies to his rescue. This is a gorgeous film with two magnificent actors driving us through the deserted night streets of...