Mike (Giamatti) is a New Jersey lawyer struggling to make ends meet when he discovers he can earn a bit extra as the guardian of senile client Leo (Young).
But his wife Jackie (Ryan) only finds out when Leo's 16-year-old grandson Kyle (Shaffer) turns up needing a place to stay while his mother (Lynskey) goes through rehab. To keep him busy, Mike invites Kyle along to the wrestling practice he coaches with his friends (Tambor and Cannavale). Surprise: Kyle's a gifted wrestler who may help the team win for a change.
Continue reading: Win Win Review
Milk finds experimental auteur Gus Van Sant taking cautious steps back toward the mainstream to celebrate Harvey's accomplishments. Van Sant's tender human-interest story, which showcases Sean Penn's considerable talents, is a closer relative to earlier efforts such as Finding Forrester or Good Will Hunting than to recent, abstruse features like Elephant, the spare Gerry, or the haunting Last Days.
Continue reading: Milk Review
It's 1882, and the intimidating landowner Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) casts a long shadow over the New Mexico town of Appaloosa. With three booming gun blasts, the film establishes Bragg's cold-blooded disdain for authority and utter lack of morals. Man, how I wish Appaloosa gave this character more time to breathe, develop, and wreck proper havoc.
Continue reading: Appaloosa Review
For Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins), existence is a stifled sleepwalk of commitments and complaints. He hates teaching. He hates faculty politics. He especially hates the lonely life he leads as a widower. His wife long dead, Vale just can't find a purpose. Forced to travel from his new home in Connecticut to his old apartment in New York City to present a paper, he discovers two strangers living there. As illegals, Arab Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and African Zainab (Danai Jekesai Gurira) have no real place to go, so Vale reluctantly lets them stay. When the Syrian Tarek is wrongfully arrested and detained, our quiet professor becomes his champion. The arrival of Tarek's mother (Hiam Abbass) from Michigan makes matters more complicated.
Continue reading: The Visitor Review
Entering into the Wetherhold house, ostensibly to chauffer the belligerent prof after a seizure suspends his driver's license, is Lawrence's laid-back, semi-transient adopted brother Chuck. Chuck is played by Thomas Haden Church in a clear and mostly successful post-Sideways bid to establish future laid-back semi-transients as "the Thomas Haden Church part." Church and Page are especially fun to watch and, especially, listen to: Church's sort of deadpan surfer growl and Page's nasal precociousness in a vocal duel. That they recall their previous roles only hastens our desire to spend time with them.
Continue reading: Smart People Review
King of California is cute, innocent, and precocious, just like the little 10-year-old niece you want to kill. Cahill's film aims to be quirky and quizzical and it has the feel of the kind of anti-establishment films made in the '60s and '70s along the lines of They Might Be Giants or Daddy Douglas' The Lonely Are the Brave. But there is no ballast for the whimsy, and the whole concept wisps away like a leaky balloon full of hot air.
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Based on a short story by Steven Millhauser, a Pulitzer winner given to tidy exposition and nostalgic settings, The Illusionist concerns a stage magician who was separated from the love of his love due to his peasant roots and her aristocratic family, only to meet her years later on stage, when she is betrothed to a villainous crown prince. The magician, Eisenheim, is played stiffly by Edward Norton, without a shred of humor or self-awareness. Somewhat in keeping with his performance is that by Jessica Biel as his beloved, Sophie von Teschen -- whose beauty helps brighten these lamp-lit rooms, but who is never close to believable as a Viennese noblewoman. Rather more in keeping with the spirit of the rather melodramatic story is Rufus Sewell, as the evil Crown Prince Leopold, who swans through the film with cigarette holder perched lightly in one hand, his face a deliciously, maliciously bored mask.
Continue reading: The Illusionist Review
Written and directed by Thomas Bezucha, the story starts with Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) bringing his uptight girlfriend, Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker), home for Christmas to meet his family. The Stones take an immediate disliking to Meredith -- she's corporate, they're earthy -- forcing her into a downward spiral where she tries ever harder to win their approval. Sort of like Meet the Parents... at Christmastime... without the laughs.
Continue reading: The Family Stone Review
Josh Hartnett plays Matt Sullivan, a guy whose serious relationship with Nicole (Vinessa Shaw, Domino from Eyes Wide Shut) ended six months prior. Since then, he cannot commit to other women because he is still hung up on her. Not even when Matt and his roommate Ryan (Paulo Costanzo) bring home a couple of hot looking dates can he muster the desire to have sex with them. Looking for advice on his relationship matters, Matt turns to his brother John (Adam Trese), who has no female issues because has given his life to the church. Since Matt's visit with his brother coincides with Lent, he decides that abstaining from all things sexual will help him recover from his heartbreak. Ah, if only things were so easy.
Continue reading: 40 Days And 40 Nights Review
The messenger of the porn star's wisdom is Ramu Gupta (Jimi Mistry), a dance instructor from Delhi, who longs to "live the American dream." He's in for a rude awakening upon arriving in the states, but his resolve "never to work for a salary" pushes him to audition to be a star - even if it's in porn. To his dismay, with all the folks holding coffee and shining bright lights, he can't seem to get it up, not even for Heather Graham posing as a love-starved Senator willing to bang any savage on her environmentally protected beach.
Continue reading: The Guru Review
Jack (Thomas Haden Church), on the other hand, covers his with several layers of restless horniness. Jack is a washed-up actor about to marry Christine (Alysia Reiner), and he's Miles' best friend from college, who doesn't understand why Miles can't just get over his divorce. Or his oft-rejected novel. Or his increasing dependence on wine, or the accompanying feeling that, as a middle-aged man, he has long ago peaked. Jack and Miles embark on a trip through California wine country, as a last hurrah for Jack's bachelorhood. Miles want to drink fine wine and play golf; Jack wants to drink anything and pick up women.
Continue reading: Sideways Review
Based on the best-selling novel by Andre Dubus III, House constructs a legal and ethical battle between two individuals at conflicting crossroads. How much you buy into it will depend on which of the film's two antagonists you side with. Are you a compassionate bleeding heart willing to forgive even the most irresponsible and bottomed-out loser? Or are you a strict rule-abider who swears by the letter of the law and is hesitant to play the sympathy card?
Continue reading: House of Sand and Fog Review