Romantic comedies depend on the sympathies of an audience, but in this scruffy movie actor-filmmaker Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) plays a character so relentlessly naive and self-absorbed that it's impossible to root for him. This also makes it difficult to laugh at his goofy antics, because he's more pathetic than funny. Viewers looking for something offbeat and a bit dorky may find the film somewhat charming, but it feels oddly under-developed.
Helberg plays Quinn, a 28-year-old hypochondriac who works as a florist, afraid to pursue his desired career as a jazz musician. He's only ever had one girlfriend, Devon (Melanie Lynskey), and after 10 years together feels like it's time to propose. But this thought sparks a doubt in his mind, which is fanned into a flame when his sexy work colleague Kelsey (Maggie Grace) confesses that she has a crush on him. Quinn's best pal Jameson (Zachary Quinto) isn't much help, and soon Devon has had enough with Quinn's sudden distance. So she moves to Paris to stay with family friends and get some perspective. In a state of confusion, Quinn follows her there and is shocked to discover that she has already struck up a perhaps too-close friendship with handsome violinist Guillaume (Ebon Moss-Bachrach).
Right from the start it's clear that Helberg's stammering nerd Quinn is only with Lynskey's witty-thoughtful Devon because they've known each other so long. There isn't a moment in this film when they feel even remotely suited to each other. And when Grace's slutty Kelsey throws herself at Quinn, the movie takes on a Woody Allen-style leeriness, as a geeky filmmaker makes a movie in which gorgeous women throw themselves at him. Helberg has some innate charm, but Quinn is so socially inept that it's obvious to everyone but him that he needs to go off and become a mature human being before getting into any sort of relationship.
Continue reading: We'll Never Have Paris Review
A riff on the 1983 classic The Big Chill, this ensemble drama's reunion of old friends differs because Alex's suicide fails this time. It's also, of course, filtered through a very different cultural landscape, with characters born at about the time the earlier film was released. This is a strikingly warm exploration of friendship, with light comedy and very dark emotions along the way. And even if it sometimes feels a little sloppy about its big themes, it has a lot to say.
After Alex (Jason Ritter) attempts suicide, his best pal Ben (Nate Parker) calls the old gang and asks them to come to Upstate New York and offer some support. Ben brings his girlfriend Siri (Maggie Grace), who's also part of the group. But they're grappling with some big issues in their relationship, since he's a blocked writer and she has just had a job offer in Los Angeles. The cynical Josh (Max Greenfield) arrives at the same time as the charmer Sarah (Aubrey Plaza), and they can barely conceal the waves of loathing and lust between them. Finally, Isaac (Max Minghella) brings his younger girlfriend Kate (Jane Levy). As these people reconnect, the awkwardness is made even more intense by the question of how they can help Alex.
It's intriguing to see a movie made about 30-ish characters by 28-year-old Jesse Zwick, son of filmmaker Edward, who made the seminal TV series Thirtysomething. The film refreshingly avoids stereotypes, populating scenes with realistic people who are still hung up on the same issues they faced while in university, including quite a lot of soapy "he likes her but she likes him" melodrama. But as the weekend progresses, the thoughtful conversations lead to revelations and confessions, spurred on by some pot-smoking, game-playing, dancing and noisy sex. All of which gives the actors plenty to play with.
Continue reading: About Alex Review
When Kate (Hillary Swank), a concert pianist, is diagnosed with ALS (also known as Motor Neurone Disease or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), she realsised that not only does she have to give up on her career, but only a short time left to live. As she will steadily lose the ability to walk and care for herself, she is entrusted to the care of Bec (Emmy Rossum), a reckless college student. The two steadily begin to develop a strong bond, as Kate is able to see Bec’s true appreciation for every part of life, and feels a little more alive because of it.
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Alice and Mark are a married couple who are desperately struggling to come to terms with the catastrophic death of their child. While their friends tiptoe around them trying to offer their own advice and support, the couple find themselves unable to support each other as Mark cannot bear to be around his wife anymore. Meanwhile, Alice ends up at the office of grief counsellor Dr. Goodman who believes that fate has led them together for a reason and convinces her to look at her own life differently. They both go through feelings of devastation, intense rage and ultimately soul-destroying heartbreak that threatens not only the future of their relationship, but also their own lives. Will this once idyllic couple successfully find each other again? And, with that, find the strength to overcome the biggest tragedy of their lives?
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Despite a bunch of cold characters and a deeply contrived plot, this film is so infused with hot topicality that we are held in its grip all the way through. The issue is corporate irresponsibility and grass-roots activism, both of which feel ripped straight from the headlines to give the movie an edgy, almost documentary urgency. On the other hand, it's nearly impossible to get involved in the story's inter-personal dramas.
Director Batmanglij is reteaming with Sound of My Voice actress-cowriter Marling, who this time plays Jane, a corporate-security spy assigned by her shark-like boss (Clarkson) to infiltrate the eco-terrorism group The East. The goal is to prevent them from attacking any of her clients. It takes Jane awhile to worm her way into the anarchists' inner sanctum, where she immediately finds an affinity with leader Benji (Skarsgard), medically trained Doc (Kebbell) and flamboyant Luca (Fernandez). It takes longer to warm to the prickly Izzy (Page), but eventually Jane finds herself part of the core team, invited to participate in a series of jams in which The East gives company bosses a taste of their own toxic medicine.
In the cast of a pharmaceutical giant, this is quite literally the case: they infect the executive (Ormond) with the dangerous drug she's selling to the developing world. And the gang also stages assaults on oil companies in ways that are eerily easy for us to identify with, because the activists are making an important point. Indeed, we never really doubt where the filmmakers' sympathies lie: even if their actions are illegal and rather nasty, these "terrorists" are the good guys. At least this moral complexity gives the film a brainy kick.
Continue reading: The East Review
Is new Fox sitcom going to be lost in translation?
We’re already grimacing at the prospect of an American remake of The Inbetweeners, but us Brits should perhaps be more worried that the US is also making what is effectively a Stateside version of one of our most British of comedies, Gavin & Stacey.
The trailer for Us And Them has been revealed and we’re really not sure about it, even though it does star Alexis Bledel and Jason Ritter. Ok, so the American Office ended up being a surprise success, and we have to hand it to them for pulling it off, but an American Inbetweeners? Gavin & Stacey? They go too far. As usual it looks like the comedy is going to lose all its subtlety with everything glammed up somewhat in what in the UK was traditionally a pretty humble, sweet natured comedy even as it made stars of Matt Horne and James Corden.
Continue reading: America's Remake Of Gavin And Stacey, 'Us And Them' Previews Trailer
Lovelorn singer-songwriter Alex (O'Nan) is struggling to survive in New York after the departure of his latest musical partner (Ritter). And when he loses his day job, he decides to head back across country to stay with his older brother (McCarthy). Before he leaves, he has an encounter with crazed stalker-fan Jim (Weston), who proposes that they become a double-act and take a cross-country tour to an L.A. battle of the bands. He reluctantly goes along with this, and is even more nervous about letting the rather aggressive Cassidy (Kebbel) join them.
Continue reading: The Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best Review
Ditched by his beloved, budding musician Alex thinks things can't get much worse. But when he's fired by both his band mate and eventually his real estate office boss, it's safe to say that he hits rockbottom. Performing gigs at every opportunity (including a special needs school), he is in dire need of his big break. That's were Jim comes in. Jim is a musical enthusiast who develops big ideas after hearing Alex perform. He books a string of US tour dates for the two of them to embark on together to Alex's initial resentment and utter reluctance. Their amateur performances kick off at a wobbly start but the pair eventually start to bounce of one another and create a new sound that sparks interest from audiences. However, the tour comes to an abrupt halt when their unreliable 'tour manager' Cassidy abandons them and Alex is forced to quit the tour and escape to his brother's house where he goes on a journey of self-discovery.
Loren Dean (Enemy of the State, Apollo 13) does a decent job as Dr. Mumford, the most popular psychologist in the small town to which he just moved. Listening attentively to the tormented visitors of the treatment couch, his apparent peace of mind and even temper become infectious. Ubiquitously available and sounding less like a shrink than a wise uncle who gives just enough advice at just the right time, it's no wonder Dr. Mumford is everyone's favorite confidant. But will those he's helped to see through their own faults be just as understanding if they find out the truth of his past?
Continue reading: Mumford Review
"Swimfan" is the kind of thriller that requires, for the plot to move forward, a complete absence of common sense on the part of the hero -- in this case a high school swim team star (Jesse Bradford) with a sultry, psycho, jailbait stalker (Erika Christensen).
No matter what crazy thing the deranged girl does to him -- leave her panties in his car, email him 81 times in a day, spike his urine sample with steroids, frame him for murder -- Bradford never tells a single person what's really going on because if anyone was watching his back, there would be no movie.
Which isn't to say "Swimfan" doesn't have its guilty pleasures. OK, one guilty pleasure. Christensen -- Michael Douglas's smack-addicted daughter in "Traffic," a beautiful girl with the heart-shaped face and sly, portentous eyes -- is such a fun, wicked, spiteful villainess that she keeps the flick afloat all by herself.
Continue reading: Swimfan Review
Marnie Minervini recently lost her husband. The couple were very much in love and did...
Romantic comedies depend on the sympathies of an audience, but in this scruffy movie actor-filmmaker...
A riff on the 1983 classic The Big Chill, this ensemble drama's reunion of old...
When Kate (Hillary Swank), a concert pianist, is diagnosed with ALS (also known as Motor...
Alice and Mark are a married couple who are desperately struggling to come to terms...
Despite a bunch of cold characters and a deeply contrived plot, this film is so...
Fans of whimsical American indie movies will enjoy this ramshackle road comedy about a couple...
Ditched by his beloved, budding musician Alex thinks things can't get much worse. But when...