At the public screening of The Descendants I saw, there was gentle but earnest applause as the film ended. It’s merited, and I suspect it came from a middle-aged audience that is weary of noise and violence in our films, and respectful of anyone prepared to deal candidly with family material. That doesn’t mean this is softer than PG. It’s an R film, with a lot of rough language, most of it coming from a ten-year-old and a seventeen-year-old.
Daily Deadline: Beware the Ides of March?
October 14, 2011
The time demands of fatherhood have forced me to see most movies vicariously, through the eyes of reviewers. So while I don’t know film all that well, I do know the people who write about film. My favorites are the ones whose reviews reflect knowledge of something besides the art – science, history, politics. A.O. Scott and Rogert Ebert come quickly to mind. Another is my former colleague, Christopher Orr, who now works for the Atlantic.
David Thomson on Films: ‘Larry Crowne’ Could Have Tackled the Challenges America Faces Today. Instead, Its Story Is Stale and Cheap.
July 06, 2011
Why is this picture called Larry Crowne? Is it because the filmmaker and star, Tom Hanks, buys into the limp orthodoxy that he is an American everyman figure? Is it because he has vague hopes that this is a story about everyday, good-natured American stick-at-it-ness, in the league of Jerry Maguire or Erin Brockovich? Or is it because no one involved in the making of it really knows what the film is about? Just think for a moment how the film’s attitude toward us, and its sense of purpose, might shift if the title was, For Example, Larry Crowne? And why not?
“You Used to Be in Pictures!”
April 23, 2010
Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America By Peter Biskind (Simon & Schuster, 627 pp., $30) Warren Beatty has not done a lot for us lately. Town and Country, his last movie, was nine years ago. The absence is such that some of his old associates have concluded that he may be happy at last. But I doubt that such a hope lingered more than a few seconds: Beatty’s entire act has been the epitome of dissatisfaction.
February 04, 2010
The Oscar nominations rolled on out this week, but with a difference: In a rather explicit admission that it does not trust its own judgment, the Academy has upped the number of Best Picture nominees from the usual five to ten. Let’s begin there. Best Picture Last year, there was widespread disgruntlement that critical and popular hits Wall-E and The Dark Knight missed the cut for this award. So the Academy decided, in essence, to protect itself from its own ineptitude by nominating more pictures.
The Orrscars 2009
January 12, 2010
What does it say that three of the top five films on my list this year--and another that could easily have made the top ten, Coraline--are “kid’s movies”? In the end not much, I think. Two of the three, Where the Wild Things Are and Fantastic Mr. Fox, were directed by talented indie auteurs (Spike Jonze and Wes Andersen, respectively) who merely happened to adapt children’s books in the same year.
December 07, 2009
The Washington Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) conducted our end-of-the-year awards balloting over the weekend, and the big winner was Up in the Air, which took Best Film, Best Actor (George Clooney), and Best Adapted Screenplay. An Education did well, too, with Carey Mulligan taking Best Actress.
The Movie Review: ‘Up in the Air’
December 04, 2009
The protagonist of Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air, Ryan Bingham, is a hatchet man for hire. The Omaha company that employs him, which goes by the Orwellian name Career Transition Counseling (CTC), rents him out to other companies to fire employees they don’t have the courage to fire themselves. He flies about the country, touching down briefly in Kansas City or Tulsa or Miami, to walk into offices he has never visited and tell workers he has never met that they are being let go.
The Movie Review: Turkey Day Roundup
November 25, 2009
The biggest film of the year opens this week, though you may be forgiven if you haven’t heard about it, as it has committed the unpardonable sin of being in Chinese. John Woo’s historical epic Red Cliff is the most expensive and highest-grossing film ever made in China, and that nation’s most emphatic statement to date that it intends to compete with Hollywood and Bollywood for a share of the global cinema market.
Clooney vs. Clooney
September 30, 2009
Vulture reports: Oh no! Overture has just scheduled George Clooney's much-anticipated goat-transfixion comedy The Men Who Stare at Goats for wide release on November 6. Which would be fine, if not for Paramount's planned limited release of George Clooney's even-more-anticipated frequent-flier dramedy Up in the Air just seven days later, on November 13. Speculation is that Paramount will be forced to move Air to a later date to avoid an overlap of the movies' advertising campaigns and George Clooney's promotional duties.