Bill Murray shines in this story of a cynical grump whose life is changed by his friendship with a bright young kid. Writer-director Theodore Melfi makes an assured debut with this hilariously astute, emotional punchy drama, which may sometimes feel a bit over-planned but gives the audience plenty to think about. And along with Murray, the film has especially strong roles for Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts and promising newcomer Jaeden Lieberher.
It's set in a New York suburb, where the neighbourhood grouch Vincent (Murray) is already having a bad day when he discovers meets the perky family next door: Maggie (McCarthy) and her curious son Oliver (Lieberher). She has just fled from her unfaithful husband (Scott Adsit) and is working extra hours to make ends meet, so she reluctantly agrees to let Oliver stay at Vincent's house after school. Intriguingly, Oliver is one of the few people Vincent can bear to be around, aside from the pregnant Russian stripper Daka (Watts) and his lively cat Felix. And Oliver is like a sponge, happily soaking up Vincent's knowledge about things like swearing, fighting and betting on the horses. Oliver has no real idea that all of this makes Vincent a seriously unsuitable role model.
Yes, the central point is that good people are sometimes hard to spot. Vincent may smoke, swear, gamble and hang out with hookers, but he also has a deep soul that Oliver witnesses in the way he takes care of Daka, or how he regularly visits his wife in a nursing home even though she has long forgotten who he is. Melfi makes the most of this perspective, seeing everything through the eyes of perceptive young actor Lieberher. And Murray shines in a role that adds clever shadings to the actor's usual on-screen bluster. The interaction between Oliver and Vincent snaps with personality, and sharp roles for McCarthy and Watts offer meaningful wrinkles, as do other side characters such as Chris O'Dowd's schoolteacher.
Continue reading: St. Vincent Review
But none of that was going to stop wunderkind Francis Ford Coppola from mortgaging every last ounce of the Hollywood credit he had garnered from making The Godfather Parts I and II (not to mention most every penny he had to his name) and hauling his family along with an army-sized cast and crew off to the Philippines (in the middle of an ugly civil war, mind you) for a few years to make a film whose ending he hadn't quite yet figured out. The results were perhaps predictable, even before the monsoons destroyed most of the sets, he fired his lead actor, and star Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack. When Apocalypse Now premiered at Cannes in 1979, a still-shaken Coppola announced that what had was that he had gone into the jungle -- like the Americans into Vietnam, in yet another of his grandiose analogies -- with too much money, too much equipment, "and little by little we went insane."
Continue reading: Hearts Of Darkness Review
The original film takes Hinton's spare 1967 novel of young gangs in Tulsa and turns it into grand melodrama, with gorgeous CinemaScope sunsets, sweeping orchestral score, and teen scuffles that take on all the clashing importance of medieval battles. On the crap side of town live the working-class greasers, with their black t-shirts and slicked-back hair, always getting hassled by the socs, preppie bastards with family money and nicer cars. The film centers on the greasers, particularly the sensitive 13-year-old orphan Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell) who lives with his older brothers Sodapop (Rob Lowe) and Darrell (Patrick Swayze). The surrogate family hanging around the Curtis' ramshackle house also includes Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise, while their friend, born-to-lose Dally Winston (Matt Dillon) has just been released from jail. Almost as childlike as Ponyboy is his best friend, Johnny (Ralph Macchio), an angelically bruised kid from a troubled home who provides the film's most emotional moments.
Continue reading: The Outsiders Review
A year passes, but the black stallion does not return. Neera's grandfather tells her that the horse was probably nothing more than a product of her imagination. But Neera knows better. She thinks the stallion is the "lost horse of the desert," a legend supposedly "born of the sands" and "sired by the night sky" (or whatever the hell that means). Will the mysterious black stallion ever return?
Continue reading: The Young Black Stallion Review
Long mired in rewrites, delays, and dismal test screenings, it's easy to see why the studio gods postponed delivery of this stinking mess until the dumping grounds of spring, just before the big summer releases. We get two strong actors -- Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton -- mixed together with a few lesser actors -- Goldie Hawn, Garry Shandling, and Andie McDowell -- and they all get to wade through an aimless script (polished up by Buck Henry!) about infidelity, homosexuality, and dysfunctional family affairs. It would have been better served heading straight to video.
Continue reading: Town & Country Review
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