Jon Tenney and Leslie Urdang - Opening night gala screening of 'Oklahoma!' during the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival at TCL Chinese Theatre - Los Angeles, California, United States - Thursday 10th April 2014
Even if we've never been to a 12-step meeting, an intelligent script and sharp performances help us see ourselves in these characters and situations. The film may sometimes get a little preachy, but writer-turned-director Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right) strikes a terrific balance between comedy and drama.
At the centre is Adam (Ruffalo), who has just passed the five year mark in his battle against sex addiction. His sponsor Mike (Robbins) is proud of him, but he and his wife (Richardson) have their own issues since their ex-addict son (Fugit) has just returned home. Meanwhile, Adam is sponsoring Neil (Gad), who was court-ordered to attend rehab and doesn't take his addiction seriously until he gets to know Dede (Moore aka P!nk), a fellow rebel in the group. Then out in the real world Adam meets Phoebe (Paltrow) and has an instant spark of attraction. But as their relationship develops, he knows he'll have to tell her about his addiction.
The script is very tightly constructed to explore the topic from several angles through a handful of characters and sideplots. But while this may feel a bit tidy, Blumberg keeps everything grounded in honest experience. So the comedy is edgy and surprising, while the dramas avoid the usual cliches, never going quite where we expect them to as Blumberg and the cast explore the deep flaws all of these people have. So we can cheer for their small victories and sympathise with their failures. And each actor is excellent.
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There's plenty of potential for jagged black humour in this suburban comedy-drama, but the filmmakers never take a single risk. So with its soft and simplistic approach, the movie is never as quirky or hilarious as it should have been, or as the filmmakers seem to think it is. The only pleasure in watching it comes through understated touches the gifted cast members manage to inject here and there. And what a great cast!
It's set in West Orange, New Jersey, where two families have been best friends for decades. David and Paige Walling (Laurie and Keener) have two grown children: Vanessa (Shawkat) lives at home while Toby (Brody) drops in to visit every now and then. Across the street are the Ostroffs, Terry and Carol (Platt and Janney), whose wayward daughter Nina (Meester) is home for Thanksgiving. Everyone thinks a romance between Toby and Nina would be wonderful. But as the Wallings try to work out some marital problems, it's David who drifts into a transgressive affair with Nina. Which sends these long-time friendships into spiralling chaos.
The plot is so perfectly suited to a black comedy that we wonder what happened along the way. Director Farino smooths every edge, instead straining for silly farce that leads to some sort of emotional catharsis. But he fails to recognise that these people are all intelligent adults, so the fallout from David and Nina's fling feels contrived and obvious. The script also never makes us feel like they are doing anything besides reacting to their previous relationships: this isn't real love, so why should we care?
Continue reading: The Oranges Review
Jon Tenney, Leslie Urdang and Beverly Hilton Hotel - Jon Tenney and Leslie Urdang Beverly Hills, California - 15th Annual Hollywood Film Awards Gala Presented By Starz - Arrivals at The Beverly Hilton Hotel Monday 24th October 2011
Oliver (McGregor) is struggling to cope with the death of his father Hal (Plummer), only a few years after his mother Georgia (Keller) died. As his memories swirl, he meets the lively Anna (Laurent) at a party, and they embark on a tentative relationship. But he's consumed by thoughts about his father, who came out as gay after his mother's death and then had a complex relationship with Andy (Visnjic). He also remembers time with his mother when he was a boy (Boos), wondering how his personal history is affecting his life now.
Continue reading: Beginners Review
Becca and Howie (Kidman and Eckhart) are a wealthy couple in the New York suburbs, but their life is coloured by intense grief after the accidental death of their 4-year-old son. Unable to move on, they struggle to integrate their loss into their daily routine, attending group-counselling sessions that Becca can't bear due to other parents' religious platitudes. Meanwhile, her mother (Wiest) and sister (Blanchard) add both comfort and stress, and Becca's chance encounter with the teen (Teller) who was driving the fateful car sparks her to take unusual action.
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Adam (Dancy) lives in a Manhattan flat on his own after the death of his father. He has Asperger syndrome, working as a toy company microchip developer and pretty hopeless at relationships. Then Beth (Byrne) moves into his building, and they strike up a friendship that leads to romance. She's attracted to his honesty, although her parents (Gallagher and Irving) aren't so sure. And the events that follow in both Adam's and Beth's lives put a heavy strain on their relationship.
Continue reading: Adam Review
The film starts with entrenched Big Apple dweller Al Pacino affecting a Georgia accent -- interesting, but no more required by the plotline than if he had come from Florida or North Dakota. About all the southern background does for his character, Eli Wurman, is provide an exaggeration to his promotional pushiness at one time, and slow, slurry speech to befit his character's drug-induced degradation at other times.
Continue reading: People I Know Review