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The Consul General Of France, Mr. Axel Cruau, Honors The French Nominees For The 87th Annual Academy Awards

Kayla Peterson, Munawar Hosain and Ron Yerxa - The Consul General Of France, Mr. Axel Cruau, Honors The French Nominees For The 87th Annual Academy Awards at French Consul Residence, Academy Awards - Beverly Hills, California, United States - Monday 23rd February 2015

The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman Review


Good

Shia LaBeouf is well-cast in this freewheeling combination of comedy, romance and action. He plays a scruffy guy with no plans and nothing to lose, lost in a strange culture while falling in love with the wrong woman. It's not a particularly original premise, and much of what happens feels wildly improbable, but the characters and situations are so entertaining that we can't help but hold on for the ride.

It opens in Chicago, where Charlie (LaBeouf) watches helplessly as his mother (Melissa Leo) dies in hospital, asking her what he should do next. Then there she is appearing to him, telling him to visit Bucharest. "That's weirdly specific," he replies, but he follows her advice, and on the flight over has another encounter with a dead person. This one asks him to look up his daughter Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood) and give her a message. Of course, Charlie is instantly smitten, but tries to ignore the fact that Gabi's psychopathic husband Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen) looks easily capable of murder. As does the mobster club owner Darko (Til Schweiger) Charlie has a run in with while out on the town with his youth hostel roommates, two chucklehead Brits (Rupert Grint and James Buckley).

As the title suggests, Charlie feels like death is inevitable for him, especially now that he seems to have caught whatever that kid from The Sixth Sense had. LaBeouf gives Charlie just the right mix of hapless loser and quick-thinking resourcefulness, and his chemistry with Wood is tetchy and fun to watch. Meanwhile, the scene-stealing supporting stars Mikkelsen, Schweiger, Grint and Buckley add a terrific mixture of comedy silliness and dark peril. This seems to be director Fredrik Bond's main goal here: to blend genres from grim drama to sweet romance to goofy slapstick to Taken-style action violence.

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The Wrap 5th Annual Pre-Oscar Event

Albert Berger, June Squibb and Ron Yerxa - Celebrities attend TheWrap.com 5th Annual Pre-Oscar Event at Culina Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel. - Los Angeles, California, United States - Wednesday 26th February 2014

Albert Berger, June Squibb and Ron Yerxa
Albert Berger, June Squibb and Ron Yerxa
Albert Berger
Albert Berger, June Squibb and Ron Yerxa
Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa

19th Critics' Choice Movie Awards - Arrivals

Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa - Celebrities attend the 19th Critics' Choice Movie Awards Ceremony LIVE on The CW Network at The Barker Hangar. - Los Angeles, California, United States - Thursday 16th January 2014

2014 National Board Of Review Awards Gala

Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa - 2014 National Board Of Review Awards Gala - Red Carpet Arrivals - Manhattan, New York, United States - Wednesday 8th January 2014

Nebraska Review


Excellent

After travelling to Hawaii with George Clooney for The Descendants, Payne returns to middle America for this gentle, enjoyable exploration of family connections. Featuring an award-winning performance from Bruce Dern, the film harks back to Payne's About Schmidt as well as David Lynch's The Straight Story in the way it tracks straightforward characters across a rural landscape.

Dern plays Woody, a ramshackle drunk who lives in Montana and is convinced by a marketing mail-out that he has won a million dollars. His wife Kate (Squibb) has given up trying to talk to him, and son Ross (Odenkirk) is distracted by his new anchorman career. But younger son David (Forte) tries to explain the scam before giving in and agreeing to drive Woody to Nebraska to claim his prize. After all, this gives him a rare chance to bond with his rascally dad. Along the way, their journey takes some unexpected sideroads as they visit Woody's hometown, meeting friends and relatives from his past.

The film has a timeless quality thanks to Payne's strikingly astute direction and the elegant black and white photography by Phedon Papamichael. It also has a rhythmic pace, boosted by Mark Orton's tuneful score, infused with both spiky wit and understated sentiment. The key here is David's discovery of who his father really is: an unusually generous man who can't quite balance the reality of how his family and friends have treated him over the years.

Continue reading: Nebraska Review

Ruby Sparks Review


Excellent

A romantic comedy with a dark twist, this film gets under the skin as it knowingly explores both the writing process and the nature of relationships. It also gives its cast a lot to play with in scenes that feature both broad slapstick and much more serious drama.

Paul Dano stars as Calvin, a writer who struck lightning with his first novel at age 19 and hasn't been able to write anything since. His brother (Messina) teases him about his future, his agent (Mandvi) is pushing him to write a new novel, and his therapist (Gould) just wants him to write something, anything. So he starts typing up a story about the girl (Kazan) who appears in his dreams. Then there she is, Ruby Sparks, in his kitchen! Sure he's officially losing his mind, he's shocked to discover that others can see her too. So he brings her into his life as his girlfriend, even introducing her to his hippie mother and stepdad (Benning and Banderas).

The film starts out as a breezy comedy, and Dano plays these scenes for laughs, including several broadly silly set-pieces as Calvin first meets Ruby. But the undertone very quickly starts turning serious, as we begin to understand the central themes about how we relate to our partners. Would we control their behaviour if we could? Get rid of annoying habits? Make them be more like our idea of the perfect spouse? But of course, that would cause a whole new set of problems.

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The Los Angeles premiere of Ruby Sparks, held at The Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre

Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger - Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger Thursday 19th July 2012 The Los Angeles premiere of Ruby Sparks, held at The Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre

Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger

The Switch Review


OK
A slightly more serious take on the rom-com, this film benefits hugely from its likeable cast even though the script lets frequently them down. But at least it's dealing with some meaningful topics along the way.

Kassie (Aniston) is a professional woman in New York who has given up waiting for Mr Right and starts looking for a sperm donor. This rather unsettles her best friend Wally (Bateman), who has always had a crush on her but was afraid to tell her. When Kassie finds the perfect man (Wilson), her plan moves ahead, but Wally drunkenly makes a last-minute switch. Seven years later, Kassie returns to New York with her little boy (Robinson). Wally realises what has happened, but he's even more afraid to break the news now.

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Little Miss Sunshine Review


Excellent
The most visited genre in film may be the family drama. It's probably popular to produce because it's something everyone can relate to - having a family with issues not fit for public consumption and seeing them resolved in two hours with some great acting thrown in for good measure, hopefully. Whether it's got some laughter during the course of events or not, it's getting quite difficult to come up with original ideas that force a family to change, or work together, or learn about each other, in an entertaining fashion.

And now, here's Little Miss Sunshine. You're not quite sure what you're in for during the Sundance-touting trailer as you see snippets of a family dinner. You know they are going to be quirky, based on their remarks and the quick cuts. You also know the acting will be dependable because of the stellar cast, including Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, and Alan Arkin. Plus, it's got a cute girl with glasses you know you're going to cheer on because the title is based on her.

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Election (1999) Review


Extraordinary
Talk about redemption. After starring in some of favorite movies ever, Matthew Broderick had to go and make Godzilla. Election proves that once again he should stick with comedy, with this little gem easily ranking as one of the top comedies in recent memory, and the best thing to ever come out of MTV's film division. (Then again, Broderick's next pic is Inspector Gadget... dunno what to make of that one.)

The story of a high school student body presidency up for bid sounds simple and even cliched, but director Payne makes quick work of the stereotypical teen comedy, turning the tables on just about everyone in the picture.

Continue reading: Election (1999) Review

Little Miss Sunshine Review


Excellent
The most visited genre in film may be the family drama. It's probably popular to produce because it's something everyone can relate to - having a family with issues not fit for public consumption and seeing them resolved in two hours with some great acting thrown in for good measure, hopefully. Whether it's got some laughter during the course of events or not, it's getting quite difficult to come up with original ideas that force a family to change, or work together, or learn about each other, in an entertaining fashion.And now, here's Little Miss Sunshine. You're not quite sure what you're in for during the Sundance-touting trailer as you see snippets of a family dinner. You know they are going to be quirky, based on their remarks and the quick cuts. You also know the acting will be dependable because of the stellar cast, including Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, and Alan Arkin. Plus, it's got a cute girl with glasses you know you're going to cheer on because the title is based on her.Combining these reliable creative forces with outstanding dialogue and appropriate timing, Little Miss Sunshine is an engaging experience. Co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris not only make a long dinner scene interesting, but an interminable drive through a visually boring landscape also never gets old.Little Miss Sunshine is the road trip story of how little seven-year-old Olive gets to a competition she's been trying to reach for years, the titular subject. Normally each member of the family has their own self-centered focus, but Olive's achievement of acceptance takes precedence and they pile into the car to spout wit aplenty and deal with themselves.Everyone has their own fault or weakness, of course, and each comes to light in its turn, with an intelligent grace instead of an easy resolution. For instance, when Richard's (Kinnear) book deal does not come across as planned, his verbally horny father (Arkin) gives a brief acknowledgement of his efforts, which is stilted due to lack of practice but no less sincere. Richard's response matches it, quietly but no less thankfully. The entire film has this wonderful balance of handling emotional issues without ever getting precious or melodramatic.Olive (Abigail Breslin) is thankfully not the perfect child, either. One of the first comments she makes is to her uncle, who recently attempted suicide (Steve Carell) because of an unrequited, homosexual, affair, which she calls silly. Also, instead of making her say something cute, she simply places her arm around her brother's shoulder to make him rejoin the family after an outburst.Little Miss Sunshine is enjoyable because it's moving without being pedantic, it's funny while being honest about how family members treat each other, and it takes everything about being human with a smart affection sorely lacking in current filmmaking.DVD extras include two commentary tracks, alternate endings, and a music video.You can steal her sunshine.

Bee Season Review


Excellent
One of the rarest beasts in the celluloid kingdom is the two-director film. I don't mean films with co-directors; I'm talking about two names under that "directed by" credit. It happened earlier this year with Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's relentless Sin City, which couldn't be farther from the style or subject matter than Scott McGehee and David Siegel's Bee Season.

We see a helicopter bring a large metal statue of the letter A over a west coast bridge. Watching intently, young Eliza Naumann (Flora Cross), her brother and her parents drive to colleges and jobs. They each have their own lives and secrets that we can't even fathom yet. Eliza's secret is that she's an expert speller, able to close her eyes and harness a power to see the letters come alive around her. After winning her school's spelling bee, she attempts to tell her father, Saul (Richard Gere), but he doesn't notice, not until she wins the next round and gets her name in the paper, which turns Saul's attention away from his son, Aaron (Max Minghella), and towards his daughter's strange talent.

Continue reading: Bee Season Review

The Ice Harvest Review


OK
Harold Ramis hasn't been kind to his own reputation in the last few years. One of the few uncontested great comedy filmmakers, he's diluted his resume with serviceable but still watery products like Bedazzled and the unfortunate duology of Analyze This and Analyze That. So while his newest, the Christmas noir comedy The Ice Harvest isn't Ramis's best work, it's also the sharpest thing he's done since Groundhog Day and hopefully the sign of more interesting things to come.

With a heart as black as exhaust-stained slush, The Ice Harvest is based on a novel by that jolliest of writers, Scott Phillips (A Simple Plan). Taking place over one long, frozen and grimy Christmas Eve in Wichita, it all starts with Charlie Arglist (John Cusack), a lawyer for the local crime syndicate, handing off a bag to his cohort, Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton), the bag containing over $2 million they stole from the Kansas City boss, Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid). Vic hides the money and he and Arglist split up for the night, aiming to get the hell out of town in the morning. Being a noir patsy, Arglist proceeds to drink, draw far too much attention to himself, flirt with the local fatale (Connie Nielsen, dead wrong for the job at hand), and get more and more suspicious about Vic's motives. Paranoia ensues when one of Guerrard's gunsels starts poking around the seedy joints that Arglist has been hanging out in.

Continue reading: The Ice Harvest Review

Bee Season Review


Excellent
One of the rarest beasts in the celluloid kingdom is the two-director film. I don't mean films with co-directors; I'm talking about two names under that "directed by" credit. It happened earlier this year with Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's relentless Sin City, which couldn't be farther from the style or subject matter than Scott McGehee and David Siegel's Bee Season.

We see a helicopter bring a large metal statue of the letter A over a west coast bridge. Watching intently, young Eliza Naumann (Flora Cross), her brother and her parents drive to colleges and jobs. They each have their own lives and secrets that we can't even fathom yet. Eliza's secret is that she's an expert speller, able to close her eyes and harness a power to see the letters come alive around her. After winning her school's spelling bee, she attempts to tell her father, Saul (Richard Gere), but he doesn't notice, not until she wins the next round and gets her name in the paper, which turns Saul's attention away from his son, Aaron (Max Minghella), and towards his daughter's strange talent.

Continue reading: Bee Season Review

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