In this pointed and involving New York drama, the snap of realistic dialogue more than makes up for a fundamental flaw in the premise. It helps to have first-rate actors like John Lithgow and Alfred Molina in the focal roles, and filmmaker Ira Sachs has a wonderful eye for earthy rhythms of human interaction that continually reveal deeper truths everyone can identify with. So the way the film explores a long-term relationship is revelatory and important.
The film opens as Ben and George (Lithgow and Molina) finally get legally married after 39 years together. But when they return from their honeymoon, their happiness hits a bump: George is sacked from his job as a music teacher at a Catholic school because he's now considered openly gay. Unable to afford their mortgage, they sell their flat and take a huge loss due to fees. So now they are forced to live separately: Ben moves in with his workaholic nephew Elliot (Darren E. Burrows) and his wife Kate (Marisa Tomei), sharing a bunk bed with their surly teen son Joey (Charlie Tahan). Meanwhile, George takes the sofa of noisy party-boy neighbours Ted and Roberto (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez). Neither situation is remotely ideal, but they try to make it work, knowing that it's temporary.
The problem is that none of this is actually necessary. They had much better options than this, so the continuing messiness feels like it could have been very easily avoided simply by making a few rational decisions rather than be pushed in one direction by an undercooked screenplay. On the other hand, the actors are more than up to the challenge, finding the most meaningful angles within every scene. Sachs gives his cast the space to bring these likeable people to life. Lithgow is terrific as the chatty Ben, who drives Kate crazy while creating tensions in their family. And Molina is wonderful as the more patient, open-minded George. Their chemistry together is sparky and realistic.
Continue reading: Love Is Strange Review
Romantic comedies depend on the sympathies of an audience, but in this scruffy movie actor-filmmaker Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) plays a character so relentlessly naive and self-absorbed that it's impossible to root for him. This also makes it difficult to laugh at his goofy antics, because he's more pathetic than funny. Viewers looking for something offbeat and a bit dorky may find the film somewhat charming, but it feels oddly under-developed.
Helberg plays Quinn, a 28-year-old hypochondriac who works as a florist, afraid to pursue his desired career as a jazz musician. He's only ever had one girlfriend, Devon (Melanie Lynskey), and after 10 years together feels like it's time to propose. But this thought sparks a doubt in his mind, which is fanned into a flame when his sexy work colleague Kelsey (Maggie Grace) confesses that she has a crush on him. Quinn's best pal Jameson (Zachary Quinto) isn't much help, and soon Devon has had enough with Quinn's sudden distance. So she moves to Paris to stay with family friends and get some perspective. In a state of confusion, Quinn follows her there and is shocked to discover that she has already struck up a perhaps too-close friendship with handsome violinist Guillaume (Ebon Moss-Bachrach).
Right from the start it's clear that Helberg's stammering nerd Quinn is only with Lynskey's witty-thoughtful Devon because they've known each other so long. There isn't a moment in this film when they feel even remotely suited to each other. And when Grace's slutty Kelsey throws herself at Quinn, the movie takes on a Woody Allen-style leeriness, as a geeky filmmaker makes a movie in which gorgeous women throw themselves at him. Helberg has some innate charm, but Quinn is so socially inept that it's obvious to everyone but him that he needs to go off and become a mature human being before getting into any sort of relationship.
Continue reading: We'll Never Have Paris Review
In a magical world of fairies and goblins, two worlds live secluded from each other, with neither knowing of the other's existence. But one day, a beastly creature stumbles out of the forest, causing the fairies to question just what lives in the woods. With the two societies meeting for the first time, hostilities emerge, leading to the kidnapping and ransom of one of the fairies. With all-out war on the horizon, to falls to an elite group of heroes to venture where no fairy has gone before, and prove that perhaps the two races aren't as different on the inside as they are on the outside.
Continue: Strange Magic Trailer
Ben and George have been together for four years and finally decide to get married. While their matrimony may have touched the hearts of their friends and family, the archdiocese soon hears about it and George is subsequently fired from his job as a teacher at the local catholic school. The pair can't afford to live in the area any longer with only Ben's pensions and George's profits from private piano lessons as income, and so they must sell their apartment and set out on a search for cheaper housing. However, the tough New York housing market means they are forced to stay with their separate families and friends. It's not the most ideal of situations for anyone; George and Ben are struggling to cope with their separation and neither are dealing with their strange new home environments.
Continue: Love Is Strange Trailer
It's taken nearly 30 years to bring Larry Kramer's passionate, award-winning play to the screen, but this high-calibre production is a genuine stunner. Even if it was made for television, it carries the gut-punch of a great drama, adding a deeply personal perspective to recent Aids epidemic documentaries like How to Survive a Plague and We Were Here.
At the centre is the outspoken writer Ned (Mark Ruffalo), who has already ruffled feathers in the 1981 New York gay community with his rants against promiscuity. So when a close friend (Jonathan Groff) comes down with what has been labelled "gay cancer", he has a new cause to get angry about. He gathers his buddies including Bruce, Tommy and Mickey (Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Joe Mantello) to form an action group, working with Emma (Julia Roberts), a doctor who suspects that the disease is sexually transmitted. But the community isn't willing to give up its hard-fought sexual freedoms. And as Ned falls for Times journalist Felix (Matt Bomer), he becomes increasingly outraged that the government is doing nothing while thousands of people die.
Kramer's script is so intimate and raw that it brings the characters to vivid life, giving each of the actors a show-stopping scene of his or her own. Ruffalo's complex and remarkably transparent performance holds everything together beautifully. Ned's relationships and confrontations all pack a powerful punch, from the romantic scenes with Bomer's lively Felix to darker strain with his brother (Alfred Molina) or an all-out battle with a politician (Corey Stoll). And Roberts gets some pungent scenes of her own, most notably a fiery rant against a room full of callous congressmen.
Continue reading: The Normal Heart Review
The Prophet has been in development for two years and Roger Allers, Salma Hayek and co. are finally (almost) ready to unveil the fruits of their labor.
Salma Hayek took to Cannes to show and promote The Prophet this weekend – her own creative baby, based onKhalil Gibran's philosophical novel. Hayek is producing the film, with Roger Allers co-directing with a long list of creatives, including Tomm Moore, Joan Gratz, Joann Sfar, Bill Plympton, Paul and Gaeton Brizzi, Michal Socha, Nina Paley and Mohammed Saeed Harib, each of whom was in charge of a separate thematic section of the animated flick.
Salma Hayek has a personal attachment to The Prophet.
As its producer, Hayek is very dedicated to The Prophet, not least because it’s a pet project of hers and one she associates with her childhood. She talked about it at Cannes, where the film had an in-progress screening this week.
Justin and the Knights of Valour will attempt to break a challenging and competitive animation market for 2013.
It’s been a pretty solid year for animated features so far; Wreck it Ralph, Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University all performed solidly with the critics and in the box office. But it hasn’t been all plain sailing – films like Turbo and Escape From Planet Earth haven’t gone down too well.
Can Justin, voiced by Highmore, learn the ways of the Knight?
There was a time when all animated films were basically the best films ever: Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, Toy Story(s), Up – but now there seems to be room for some pretty average efforts. Striking up some cute characters with big eyes, pitting them against a baddie and creating a weird little fella for comic relief just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Justin is an average boy with big dreams living in a Kingdom where the Queen has enlisted lawyers instead of knights. However, Justin wants more than anything in the world to become one the latter, just like his deceased grandfather Sir Roland. He must embark on a quest to train to become the best knight he can and on the way meets his three mentors, Blucher, Legantir and Braulio, a wacky wizard named Melquiades and the very beautiful Talia. Sooner than he'd hoped, he finds his first challenge; Sir Heraclio and his sidekick Sota are attempting to raise an army to defeat the Kingdom, leaving Heraclio crowned king. Justin must protect the Kingdom he was brought up in and, in doing so, purloin his grandfather's old sword from Heraclio's clutches.
Continue: Justin and the Knights of Valour Trailer
Pixar revisits the characters from 2001's Monsters, Inc. for a frat-house prequel. Which is kind of an odd setting for a kids' movie. The comedy is more focussed on action sequences than characters this time, so it's not nearly as satisfying. But it's still a lot of fun, thanks to a constant barrage of sharp verbal and visual gags.
When he was just a child, Mike (Crystal) dreamed about becoming a scarer, capturing the screams of human children to provide power to Monstropolis. So he's thrilled when he enters Monsters University, and takes his studies very seriously. By contrast, his roommate Randy (Buscemi) is more interested in partying, while classmate Sulley (Goodman) is lazily coasting on the legacy of his famed scarer dad. Then Mike and Sulley end up on the wrong side of Dean Hardscrabble (Mirren), who gives them one chance to stay in school: they have to win the Scare Games. But the only frat-house that needs them is made up of unscary misfits: nice-guy Dan (Murray), two-headed dimwit Terry/Terri (Hayes/Foley), naive five-eyed Squishy (Sohn) and furry philosopher Art (Day).
We never really doubt where this is going, but the filmmakers have a lot of fun along the way, and the story does take some surprising twists. Essentially, it's the same premise as Glee, with nerdy outcasts banding together to draw on their personal talents and show the cool kids that they're not losers. The script never really develops any of the side characters beyond one key personality trait, but the relationship between Mike and Sulley has a real kick of emotional resonance, superbly well-voiced by Crystal and Goodman. And the bromance between these two is even more enjoyable than all the colourful mayhem and snappy joking around.
Continue reading: Monsters University Review
Nathan (Lautner) is a lively Pittsburgh teen with even livelier parents (Isaacs and Bello), although he sees a shrink (Weaver) to keep his anger issues in check. While working on a school project with childhood crush Karen (Collins), he stumbles across a missing-child website with a picture of him at age 3.
Suddenly he doubts who he really is, and indeed he and Karen have uncovered a secret involving a foreign agent (Nyqvist) and a CIA boss (Molina) who are both desperate to get their hands on some important information.
Continue reading: Abduction Review
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