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Lovely By Surprise Review


Good
One of those wilfully quirky movies that we're not quite sure what to do with, this film actually gets under our skin as it goes along, and as its seemingly random elements start to come together in an oddly moving way.

Marian (Preston) is struggling to write a novel, in which she pictures two brothers (Chernus and Roberts) living on a land-locked boat wearing just their underpants. Both of them have an awareness of their fate, and an ability to control it. So when Marian's mentor (Pendleton) tells her she needs to kill off her favourite character in order to find truth in the story, one of the brothers rebels and marches into the real world. He emerges in Marian's past, where as a little girl (Lamer) she's watching her widowed father (Rogers) wage war on his depression.

Continue reading: Lovely By Surprise Review

Starting Out In The Evening Review


Extraordinary
Hollywood exaggerates the truth about many professions, but might be dead-on with its frequent depiction of novelists as tortured and frustrated human beings. After all, few careers share the morale-crushing nature of a novelist; even well-known writers can spend years on a book only to receive rejection and never see it published. Then there's deadline pressure. Leonard Schiller's deadline isn't from an agent or publisher, but rather pending death.

Starting Out in the Evening unveils the final chapter in the life of Schiller (Frank Langella), an aging novelist whose health deteriorates as he races to complete one last book. Since his existing novels are out of print, Leonard needs the next one be a success if he wants to be fondly remembered in the literary world. He's been working on the book for over a decade now, however, and has failed to capture interest from publishers. His shortcomings are not due to laziness, though. Leonard used to be a more prolific writer, but has never been the same since his wife died years prior, and neither has his work.

Continue reading: Starting Out In The Evening Review

Lonesome Jim Review


Good
If you were to saddle Garden State with a far less likeable lead and set it in Indiana, you might end up with this small gem, the latest from actor-cum-director Steve Buscemi. The Lonesome Jim in question (Casey Affleck) returns home ostensibly to find himself, but really he's just there to mooch off his folks until he can plan his next move. The fact that he finds himself in spite of himself saves this film from being a mere installment of "Profiles in Schmuck-itude," even if it ups the cheese factor as a result.

The movie begins with Jim's surprise arrival at his parents' house. His brother, Tim (Kevin Corrigan), still lives there but is less than pleased to see him. His mother, Sally (Mary Kay Place), is overjoyed but clueless as to Jim's unhappiness, even as he breaks down within minutes of walking through the door. And his father, Don (Seymour Cassel), in response to Jim's claim that his breakdown is due to "dehydration," simply suggests a cup of water.

Continue reading: Lonesome Jim Review

Land Of Plenty Review


Weak
Wim Wenders' sense of subtlety and grace started to decline somewhere in the '90s, and in post-9/11 he's clearly lost it altogether. Land of Plenty is his meditation on the Big Event (and I guess at this point we should assume that every film director will eventually make one... come on Spielberg, what's holding you back?). Kudos for having the stones to have the movie take place all the way across the country in L.A., but could the story be more overbearing?

John Diehl plays a Vietnam vet who spends his days in a van keeping tabs on suspicious personages, particularly those with turbans. He's constantly narrating the action into a tape recorder, and he even has a flunky willing to help him "analyze these chemicals by oh-nine-hundred." This is contrasted with his long-lost niece (Michelle Williams), a mopey girl who's all too happy to spend all day working in a soup kitchen. The digital video looks suitably present and "real," but Wenders' wandering sentiments fail to add anything new to what has become a mountain of conversation on the New Paranoia and What the Hell Are We Supposed To Do Now? It's not exactly lazy filmmaking, but it's hard to give it your complete attention.

Continue reading: Land Of Plenty Review

November Review


OK
I remember when Greg Harrison was going to be The Next Big Thing. It was 1999, and he was shooting Groove, a movie about this crazy "rave" scene that the kids were into, which was going to be the next Blair Witch Project.

Well, the lackluster Groove eventually made a little over a million dollars at theaters, despite a crush of marketing and hype. (Blair Witch earned $140 million in the U.S.) And Harrison slipped back into obscurity.

Continue reading: November Review

Lonesome Jim Review


Good
If you were to saddle Garden State with a far less likeable lead and set it in Indiana, you might end up with this small gem, the latest from actor-cum-director Steve Buscemi. The Lonesome Jim in question (Casey Affleck) returns home ostensibly to find himself, but really he's just there to mooch off his folks until he can plan his next move. The fact that he finds himself in spite of himself saves this film from being a mere installment of "Profiles in Schmuck-itude," even if it ups the cheese factor as a result.

The movie begins with Jim's surprise arrival at his parents' house. His brother, Tim (Kevin Corrigan), still lives there but is less than pleased to see him. His mother, Sally (Mary Kay Place), is overjoyed but clueless as to Jim's unhappiness, even as he breaks down within minutes of walking through the door. And his father, Don (Seymour Cassel), in response to Jim's claim that his breakdown is due to "dehydration," simply suggests a cup of water.

Continue reading: Lonesome Jim Review

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