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The Age Of Adaline Review


Like Benjamin Button, this drama plays around with the human lifespan, is slickly produced and feels far too serious for its own good. There's a sweeping romanticism to the premise, but it's ultimately so sentimental that it becomes rather corny. Fans of Nicholas Sparks-style movies will adore every golden-hued moment and yearning glance. More cynical viewers will enjoy the premise and performances, but will find the tidal wave of plot twists too yucky to bear.

In present-day San Francisco, Adaline (Blake Lively) is preparing to change identities as she does every decade or so. She's been 29 since a fateful accident in 1933 stopped her ageing process, due to a convergence of random factors at the time of a car crash, and she doesn't want to arouse suspicion. The only person who knows her secret is her daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn), who after all this time now introduces herself as Adaline's grandmother. Then the dashing Ellis (Michiel Huisman) tenaciously starts pursuing Adaline, and Flemming encourages her to stop running. So she decides to let herself live for a change, travelling with Ellis for a weekend to meet his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker). But fate has a few more surprises in store.

The story is told by an omniscient narrator (Hugh Ross) and camerawork that often stares down from a godlike point of view, as if Adaline has no say in her own story. And without a sense of humour or irony, it's tricky for a film audience to root for her. The story is engaging, and it's enjoyable to watch the events unfold, but the moment the plot loudly clanks into gear the film becomes difficult to like. Revelations and coincidences pile on top of each other in the story's final act, making everything both achingly emotional and suspiciously convenient.

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Stand Up Guys Review


Frankly, if you put Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin in your movie, you don't really need to worry about the script: we'd happily watch them do just about anything on-screen. And here they sieze every hint of humour, drama and action to keep us entertained and make us care about their characters. Indeed, they maintain their dignity by refusing to give in to the screenplay's lazy old-age jokes and convoluted plot.

The story kicks off when Val (Pacino) gets out of prison after 28 years behind bars. His only remaining friend is Doc (Walken), who lets him stay in his humble apartment. But Val wants to get back in the game, and tries to get Doc to abandon his austere retirement. Then Val learns that Doc is only alive because gangster Claphands (Margolis) is forcing him to kill Val on his release - an act of vengeance against both of them. With nothing to lose, they liberate their dying buddy Hirsch (Arkin) from hospital and decide to go out with a bang.

Screenwriter Haidle seems to want this to be a geriatric Apatow-style comedy, as these men continually talk frankly about their sex lives (including of course a tired Viagra joke). But this is more squirm-inducing than amusing. And director Stevens lets the action set-pieces drag on too long, trying to crank up the energy by giving every scene a madcap spin. But none of this was necessary with these actors: they are geniuses at adding zing to even the most weakly written and directed scenes, keeping us engaged by constantly upstaging each other. They may be past their prime, but they prove that there's plenty of life still in them. 

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The Place Beyond The Pines Review


Mainstream audiences may be disappointed that this isn't a gritty thriller pitting the acting talents of Gosling and Cooper against each other, as it's instead a boldly artful, often moving drama. The three-part structure may soften the emotional punch, but a raw script and intimate direction let the actors find real resonance in every scene.

The title is a loose translation of the Mohawk word Schenectady, the New York town where the story is set. In the first section, carnival stunt rider Luke (Gosling) returns to town and tries to rekindle a previous fling with Romina (Mendes). When he discovers that his last visit produced a son, he decides to leave the circus and settle down, taking a job with a local mechanic (Mendelsohn). To make some extra cash, the two team up to rob banks, which puts Luke on a collision course with beat cop Avery (Cooper), who has a wife (Byrne) and young son of his own. Years later, their now-teen sons Jason and AJ (DeHaan and Cohen) discover a past connection they knew nothing about.

To explore the generational ramifications of these men's actions, the film switches perspective twice, first from Luke to Avery and finally to Jason and AJ. But the script never simplifies anyone into "good" or "bad": these are complex people facing difficult situations the best way they can. And sometimes their choices lead to tragic consequences. With this structure, though, the characters are somewhat fragmented, and only Avery emerges as a fully rounded figure, giving Cooper the best role in the film as he becomes unable to work out what is right and wrong, even though he knows it in his gut.

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Parker Review


Far better made than it has any right to be, this cheesy 70s-style thriller is given a thoroughly engaging kick by veteran filmmaker Hackford working outside his usual dramatic genre. It's predictable and far too long, but Hackford grounds everything in gritty reality, avoiding obnoxious effects work while indulging in entertaining innuendo and riotously nasty action sequences.

None of this is much of a stretch for the cast, and Statham's Parker is essentially the same character he always plays: a ruthlessly efficient, indestructible criminal with a conscience. After a gang of thugs (including Chiklis and Collins) betrays him following a fairgrounds heist, Parker miraculously recovers from his hideous injuries and heads to Florida to get revenge. He uses local estate agent Leslie (Lopez) to find the gang's lair, and she's instantly attracted to the way he fills out his designer suit. Living with her soap-addict mum (LuPone), Leslie is looking for a wealthy man to rescue her. And she's already too involved when she realises that Parker isn't who he seems to be. 

There isn't much to the plot, which is packed with contrived twists and turns and never follows through the intriguing possibilities along the way. At least the film avoids the usual action cliches, as Hackford sharply orchestrates each fight sequence to make it both lucid and startlingly brutal. This earthy approach keeps things relatively believable, until Parker emerges with yet another serious injury that doesn't slow him down at all. Meanwhile, Hackford injects plenty of eyebrow-raising flirtation that keeps us smiling. Statham and Lopez may not be stretching themselves as actors, but they clearly have a lot of fun circling around each other like dogs on heat.

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The Barnes Museum Opening Gala

Guests and Sidney Kimmel Friday 18th May 2012 The Barnes Museum Opening Gala

Guests and Sidney Kimmel

The Barnes Museum Opening Gala

Sidney Kimmel - Caroline Kimmel and Sidney Kimmel Friday 18th May 2012 The Barnes Museum Opening Gala

Sidney Kimmel

The Lincoln Lawyer Review

Enjoyably twisty but too shallow to be fully satisfying, this legal thriller lopes along at a pleasing pace through its overlong running time. But it's watchable mainly because we know there will be at least one big twist in the tale.

Mick (McConaughey) runs his successful L.A. law practice from his vintage Lincoln. He has a daughter with his public-prosecutor ex Maggie (Tomei) and works closely with his private-eye pal Frank (Macy). His new case involves the wealthy Louis (Phillippe), who claims he didn't violently assault a prostitute.

But the more Mick and Frank look into things, the fishier they get. And Mick will need to do some unorthodox things to win the case against the tenacious D.A. (Lucas) and achieve real justice.

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Death At A Funeral Review

If you've seen Frank Oz's 2007 British comedy, it feels rather pointless to watch this almost word-for-word remake. Sure, the setting is different, but the uneven mixture of slapstick and sentiment are still here, so newcomers might find it diverting.

Aspiring author Aaron (Rock) is preparing his father's funeral amid all kinds of distractions. His novelist brother Ryan (Lawrence) jets in from New York, but won't help at all. His wife Michelle (Hall) is pushing him to move out from their mother's (Devine) house. The boyfriend (Marsden) of his cousin (Saldana) has just accidentally been given a hallucinogen. Uncle Russell (Glover) is on the rampage. And a small man (Dinklage) has something shocking to announce.

Through all of this, Aaron's hypochondriac best friend Norman (Morgan) tries to maintain some semblance of order. But he's useless.

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Management Review

Gentle and very sweet, this low-key romance takes some rather random turns as it drifts toward the obvious conclusion. But it's very nicely played, and it still manages to catch us emotionally.

Mike (Zahn) is a lonely man-child, living in the Arizona hotel owned by his parents (Ward and Martindale). When he spots travelling businesswoman Sue (Aniston) checking in, he invents a reason to talk to her. And even she is surprised by her response to his clumsy advances. But it turns out that she's also lonely, trying to sort out her place in the world and looking for security Mike probably can't offer. On the other hand, is her high-achieving boyfriend (Harrelson) the right choice?

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Management Review

How can you not like a film that has lines like "You can touch my butt but then you gotta go"? And screenwriter Stephen Belber's first film as director, Management, is a very likable film in its own modest way. But modesty and low expectations are hard notes to sustain for feature length without giving in to quirkier impulses, and Management quickly abandons its singular unpretentiousness for three-ring goofiness. But with two charming performances by Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn to buoy the modulations, Management extends beyond the pale, like the good ol' hat trick, taking an illogical premise to its logical extreme.

Zahn is lonely guy named Mike, pushing middle age in a dead-end job working for his parents at a roadside motel in the Arizona dessert. Zahn's puppy dog eyes are reminiscent of Robert Morse -- he is cute and cuddly but he could also be a pervert or a serial killer. His Norman Bates pedigree is certainly on display when he sets his sights on uptight sales representative Sue (Aniston), staying the night at the motel for her business, a company specializing in corporate art called Corporate Bliss. When Sue gazes at Mike and Mike gazes at Sue, you know it is a match made in heaven, although Mike still could be Ted Bundy.

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Synecdoche, New York Review

If it weren't for Charlie Kaufman, the phrase "famous screenwriter" would be an oxymoron. Kaufman has never won an Oscar, and most people, even true movie geeks, probably couldn't pick him out of a police lineup, but he's the only writer in Hollywood whose name is used to promote his movies. From Being John Malkovich and Adaptation to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, each of Kaufman's movies is a singular experience -- quirky, affecting, and humorous. Kaufman's renown as a screenwriter even surpasses that of Quentin Tarantino's back in the mid-nineties, when he penned a string of critical and box-office hits that included Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, and Pulp Fiction. Tarantino's real acclaim, however, came as a result of his work behind the camera, not the keyboard. So it's no surprise to find Kaufman making the same transition in Synecdoche, New York -- his debut film as a director.

Synecdoche (sih-NECK-doh-kee) is a word whose meaning is too long to type out here -- and isn't essential to understanding the film, anyway. But it's just the type of word you might throw in the title of your first movie as a director if you wanted to let people know in advance they're in for something offbeat. And Synecdoche, New York is nothing if not determinedly offbeat.

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Married Life Review

Married Life, a new film from director Ira Sachs, feels very much like a film from a different era -- a fact that's mostly enjoyable, with a few minor exceptions. Set in the late 1940s, presumably in and around New York City, Married Life tells the story of Harry Allen (Chris Cooper), a wealthy businessman who one day confesses to his old friend Richard (Pierce Brosnan) that he intends to leave his wife and take up with his mistress. Complications arise when Harry decides the only way out of his marriage is to murder his wife, while at the same time his pal Richard goes behind his back and courts the affection of his mistress.

What's pleasurable about this film, and the way the story unfolds, is its elegant simplicity. No more than ten minutes into the movie, Sachs and his co-screenwriter Oren Moverman have skillfully limned each of the main characters' hopes and ambitions and set in motion the levers of conflict that drive the story forward. Harry wants to experience the type of romantic love that has long since vanished, if it ever existed, from his marriage with Pat (Patricia Clarkson), while she, for her part, longs for greater passion and the adolescent thrill of sex. Kay (Rachel McAdams), Harry's mistress, seeks true love for the second time after losing her husband in World War II, and Richard, a womanizing bachelor, hopes to discover the ability to form an emotional connection with a woman.

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Charlie Bartlett Review

A hot-ticket item at last year's Tribeca Film Festival and subsequently picked up by the Weinstein Company, Jon Poll's plodding Charlie Bartlett has the gumption to suggest, and then confirm the fact, that rich people, especially rich white kids under 18, have all the answers, and that it is quite foolish to think otherwise.

Kicked out of his latest boarding school for entrepreneurial ingenuity (he made fake IDs), Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin) finally makes his way to public school. His mother (Hope Davis), medicated into oblivion, thinks it will be a perfect outlet for his creativity. As if it weren't written on the wall, Bartlett can only find friends on the short bus and other clique-less annals of the teenage population. That is until he finds the blessings of prescription narcotics and the passivity of modern adults towards their children's problems.

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