Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Skeleton Twins

In a predictable story, with the plot twists telegraphed well ahead of time. Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader take a huge step into dramatic storyland. Most of the cast are highly recognizable as recycle television actors, be it on cable shows or standard network. But I have to say that the real story for me was the relationship between fraternal twins who grow up with a quirky, depressed father and the worst kind of mother- naracissistic new agey and irresponsible. The twins have a sort of contrived past split over an incident involving Hader's character as a teen ager. It is now 10 years later, and Hader's and Wiig's potential suicides bring them back into one another's lives. Luke Wilson reappears on film as Wiig's enthusiastic and kind husband.  Flashbacks let the audience see the tender past the twins shared in their own little word of imagination and invention where they escaped their reality. Hader is gay, and Wiig is nurturing, so the twins are close.  That is as much as I can say, but I did like this movie. I didn't focus on the contrivances and predictability; I focused on the relationships and the toll that miserable parenting takes on innocent and vulnerable children. Some kids do okay, but most don't.  I thought that it was handled rather touchingly. Without the flashbacks, it might have been a really bad movie that's been done on Lifetime TV before. But I really felt for these two. There is a really cute musical number which just screams SNL skit. But hey, those two are such talented comedians that it would have been a shame not to showcase just a little of that. But for the future, if they want to do more serious roles, they'll have to drop the schtick.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Drop

This will always be known at James Gandolfini's final movie. And that's okay but it sort of slights the great performances of the rest of the cast. If I hadn't known he was near death in this, I would have assumed it. Sadly, he is bloated, hugely overweight in that dangerous belly area, and though his performance seems somewhat nuanced, it just isn't full of the mental energy you see in the rest of his acting. His eyes are weary- and it isn't the character. It reminds me of the woman who asked Robin Williams if he was okay a couple of months before he died and he  sat down and said "I feel so fucking old and tired". And that is how you feel looking at Gandolfini- he looks weary.
The best performance in this is by Tom Hardy as Bob Saginowski, a seemingly slow witted bartender who seems more like a survivalist than a thug. Noomi Rapace (remember her from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc) plays his sort of girlfriend. Gandolfini plays the boss of the bar.  It is a sort of gangster movie, with the cruelty and lack of respect for life, but the real story is that of Saginowski.
This is a dark and seedy feeling film. But it is very worth seeing- you really don't know where it will all end up. And the little pit bull puppy that starts the action is really cute.
I think it is a good movie to see when you aren't trying to have some sort of Pollyanna day of happiness.  And certainly, seeing Gandolfini for the last time would make it all worth it anyway.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Hunderd-Foot Journey

Here's a quick quiz- how many films about people's relationship with food have you seen? Don't forget Supersize Me, because that would count. Tick...tock...still counting? Well, here's another one to add to your list. An Indian family has their van break down in a charming French Village that just happens to have a 1 star Michelin rated French restaurant. They open an Indian restaurant 100 feet away, across the street. A widow runs the French place, a widower runs the Indian place.(ohhhh, wonder what happens there?)  Turmoil ensues. Young Indian son is  a great chef, he meets the aspiring young woman French chef, etc and on and on until the very predicable but sweet ending happens for everyone.  There you have it. A whole bunch of clich├ęs are here. Don't do a drinking game based on them unless you have a designated driver. What carries the film is the cast of charming actors. I'll give it 3 stars because it was really relaxing. I love all things Indian in most movies, but I am not a big fan of Indian food. Maybe someone who is would have given it a higher rating because food does feel like home, and if you read my review of Chef, you'll see that home is New Orleans for me, not Mumbai.

The Giver

If you go to see a movie based on a young adult (YA) novel, you'll get a movie that is suitable for 14 year olds, as well as people who want to go to a movie that is entertaining in a really light and simple way. I have to say that YA novels are really fun to read. A lot of them have a very interesting take on the world or the future, and they are fast reads.  The movie is pretty simple- it is the future, and in the future we are all treated the same, raised by surrogates and brainwashed so that there is no discord or even love felt. Medications are dispensed every day. One child is born with the mark on his wrist that means he is going to be trained to be the next Giver. The giver is the person will all of the old knowledge of love, war, history, etc.  You can figure out how it ends if you think for more than 10 seconds about it. But it is nicely done, well acted, and you get what you went to see-a young adult type movie with all the simplicity that entails. If you have a 10-14 year old, you have a movie that will make them feel very grown up when they really aren't.