Film Review: GONE GIRL Oct17

Film Review: GONE GIRL

GONE GIRL Directed by David Fincher Written by Gillian Flynn, based on her novel Starrint Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Kim Dickens, Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry SPOILERS GALORE I was ready to write a review of GONE GIRL this week although everyone with a column, a blog or a facebook account has already written one. Not much left to say at this point. Four of us saw it, all fans of the book, and all of us liked it. Each of us had some minor issues: too long, too much time spent on the media, Nick is too bland—hard to believe Amy would marry this dolt, the Desi part doesn’t work all that well, occasionally it seemed too much...

Film Review: The Skeleton Twins Oct10

Film Review: The Skeleton Twins

Directed by Craig  Johnson Written by Mark Heyman and Craig Johnson Starring: Kristin Wiig, Bill Hader, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell Twins Maggie and Milo have been estranged for ten years when Milo’s attempt at suicide brings them together. She bundles him up and takes him back to New York where she lives with her lovable if not much loved husband. (Wilson). The siblings are prickly but their shared memories of a difficult childhood bring them together in the end. That’s basically the plot but the two are entirely believable as siblings, as troubled people, as characters you root for. The trailers make this seem more like a comedy...

Film Review: THE DROP Sep26

Film Review: THE DROP

Directed by Michael R. Roskam Written by Dennis Lehane, based on his short story “Animal Rescue” Starring: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, John Ortiz THE DROP is a terrific film. I can’t think of a better crime movie in recent months. The short story it is based on “Animal Rescue” (from Boston Noir) is a strong place to start. It gives us a terrific setting (Boston becomes Brooklyn in the film, three strong characters, some pretty nasty villains, a cute dog. On top of that, we get a touching love story and not just between the man and the dog. The movie one ups it by getting Tom Hardy to play the...

Film Review: THE TRIP TO ITALY Sep19

Film Review: THE TRIP TO ITALY

Directed by Michael Winterbottom, based on a TV series and the 2010 film THE TRIP Starring: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon The success of the 2010 film THE TRIP pretty much assured another adventure for the duo. In the first film, they trudged through the North of England, eating, doing imitations of famous actors, making anxious calls back home, and, most importantly, bonding with each other and making the audience laugh. There is not all that much new in this second film. The duo is now following the path of the 19th century Romantic Poets in Italy. The food is better, if less discussed; their accommodations have been bumped up a notch;...

Film Review: CALVARY Sep12

Film Review: CALVARY

CALVARY Written and Directed by John Michael McDonagh Starring Brendan Gleeson, Kelly Reilly, Chris O’Dowd, M. Emmet Walsh, Aiden Gillen In the opening scene of CALVARY Father James is listening to the confession of a parishioner who tells him he was repeatedly molested as a child, and although that particular priest is dead, he intends to murder Father James in a week’s time. Although the priest knows who the parishioner is we do not, so the film functions, at its lowest level, as a whodunnit. Each character who crosses the screen in the next two hours is angry enough to have threatened the priest. But as its highest level,...

Film Review: FRANK Sep05

Film Review: FRANK

FRANK Directed by Lenny Abramson Written by Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan Starring: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhall, Scott McNary It is wrong, wrong, wrong to put Michael Fassbender’s lovely face behind such a ludicrous blowup head, but if you can get beyond this, you might find FRANK a quirky and kind-hearted movie. Its subject is mental illness and how the insertion of a sane person into a fairly stable group of nuts can quickly throw the group dynamics off. Gleeson plays a key-boardist, who’s recruited beachside after the near-drowning of the group’s current musician. Jon seems like a likable...

Film Review: A MOST WANTED MAN Aug29

Film Review: A MOST WANTED MAN

Directed by Anton Corbijn Written by Andrew Bovell, based on the novel by John LeCarre Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Grigory Dobrygin, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright In many ways this is the perfect film to end a career on. It is a dour, depressing, but intelligent story elevated to greatness by the writing and the performance of Hoffman. He looks ill, bloated, flushed and gray all at the same time. Yet this seems to suit, Gunther Bachman, a German intelligence officer, very well. How could it be otherwise in the unromantic, unglamorous spy world of John LeCarre. It is little gray pencil pushers that get the job done—only to...

Film Review: BOYHOOD Aug22

Film Review: BOYHOOD

BOYHOOD Written and Directed by Richard Linklater Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater What could have turned out to be little more than a gimmick instead provides us with one of the great films of 2014 with BOYHOOD. Twelve years ago, Linklater found a six year old boy, Ellar Coltrane, and filmed the first sequences in BOYHOOD. His film, based somewhat on his own childhood, offers the ups and downs of being a kid in Texas in the 21st century. Coltrane manages to be mostly likable and mostly an average kid, quite an achievement. His parents (Arquette and Hawke) are flawed but well meaning. Although...

2014 Traverse City Film Festival Aug18

2014 Traverse City Film Festival

The 10th year of the Traverse City Film Festival took place on July 29-August 3 in beautiful Traverse City, Michigan. The brain child of film maker, Michael Moore, each year has seen the festival grow in the number of films offered, venues, attendees, and prestige. Nearly one million tickets have been purchased in those ten years. Film lovers attend from across the country, combining it with a vacation in a truly gorgeous part of Michigan. Aside from the many traditional venues, free films are offered nightly on a giant screen on the beach and on a floating boat. There are free movies every day and plenty of films for children. There is...

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...