A Long Way Down
R, 1 HR., 36 MINS.
A bright cast spackles this uneven Nick Hornby adaptation about a quartet of suicidal strangers (Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul, and Imogen Poots) who meet on a London rooftop one New Year’s Eve and quickly become a fractured family. With an ace troupe like that, there are affecting moments, to be sure. But the movie criminally wastes Sam Neill and Rosamund Pike in barely there supporting roles, and the picture has exactly two tones: grim and gooey. They do not coexist harmoniously. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) C –Jason Clark
Tag: Reviews (1-10 of 10)
A Long Way Down
NR, 1 HR., 20 MINS.
Directed by Ignacio Ferreras, a disciple of Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville), and dubbed into English from Spanish, this animated gem tells a story of friendship in an old folks’ home. Emilio (Martin Sheen) is dumped there by his son after one too many senior moments, while Miguel (George Coe), a white-haired Randle McMurphy, cuts deals and runs the joint. The animation artfully transitions between what is real and what the aging residents think is real. Rare is the “cartoon” that penetrates and even haunts; Wrinkles is not easily forgotten. (Available on iTunes and VOD July 15) A- –Jeff Labrecque
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They Came Together
R, 1 HR., 23 MINS.
Rom-com tropes like the ”meet-cute” are so tired that you can’t just spoof them — you have to spoof the spoofs, which this winking David Wain-Michael Showalter parody mostly succeeds at doing. Molly (Amy Poehler) and Joel (Paul Rudd) tell the story of how they fell in love to another couple (Ellie Kemper and Bill Hader), repeating that it’s ”just like a romantic comedy.” Cue the clichés: an aerial shot of Manhattan, a costume-party encounter, a You’ve Got Mail subplot about a candy conglomerate devouring Molly’s indie sweetshop. Most of the jokes land bluntly — ”This is a cliché!” — but tight pacing and a killer cast, which also includes Ed Helms and Christopher Meloni, make up for the inconsistent gags. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B –Stephan Lee
R, 1 HR., 30 MINS.
In his engaging directorial debut, Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello chronicles the real-life Mikes of famed Dallas strip club La Bare, ”which means, you know, ‘nude’ in French or whatever,” says one dancer helpfully. You’ll get your man-cake, if that’s what you came for, but Manganiello works hard to show the sometimes harsh realities behind the oiled pecs and tear-away pants. Like the guys who gyrate on La Bare’s stage every night, the movie is luggish, good-hearted, and a little bit sad. B+ –Leah Greenblatt
The Internet’s Own Boy
NR, 1 HR., 45 MINS.
This documentary eulogy for Aaron Swartz — the programming guru who hanged himself while facing a flabbergasting 13-count indictment for downloading academic papers [MDASH] is fodder for those who idolize him as a martyr in the Internet freedom crusade. Talking (egg)heads reiterate outrage over the Obama Justice Department’s witch hunt against him, but Swartz’s ex-girlfriend adds heart when she tearfully recalls first seeing the ”end date” on his Wikipedia page. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B –Joe McGovern
Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger
R, 1 HR., 47 MINS.
How did Joe Berlinger, codirector of the Paradise Lost trilogy and advocate for the wrongly accused, become simpatico with the defense team of Boston supermobster Whitey Bulger? The answer (and then some) is found in this salty, streetwise documentary, which follows the 2013 trial of the vicious crime boss while also boldly examining the web of FBI corruption that had been latticed around him for 30 years. With minimal conspiratorial bluster, Berlinger unmasks the compliant faces of evil. (Also available on VOD) A- –Joe McGovern
Yves Saint Laurent
R, 1 HR., 46 MINS.
The titular French visionary (Pierre Niney) set the fashion world ablaze with such indelible style moments as the Mondrian dress and the female tuxedo. Unlike YSL’s work, however, Jalil Lespert’s biopic looks pretty but lacks texture. The eye always travels to Niney, who thrillingly morphs from a fragile young prodigy into a brilliant, maddening, coke-addicted icon. Scenes between YSL and rock-steady lover Pierre Bergé (Guillaume Gallienne) spark, but the film stays too reverent to truly turn heads. B –Stephan Lee
A Summer’s Tale
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 54 Mins.
Originally released in 1996 in France (but never before in the U.S.), Eric Rohmer’s sun-kissed love quadrangle remains as fresh and romantically profound as it was 18 years ago. Melvil Poupaud plays Gaspard, a mopey young man who heads to a seaside resort in Brittany looking for a girl…and ends up finding three. Quelle chance! It’s obvious from the start that Amanda Langlet’s pixieish Margot is the One, especially after a series of long platonic walks and soul-searching talks. But Rohmer would rather torture the poor cad for not recognizing his destiny when it’s staring him in the face. A- –Chris Nashawaty
NOT RATED, 2 HRS., 18 MINS.
She ran in the same circles as Sartre and Camus and was mentored by de Beauvoir, but French feminist writer Violette Leduc achieved a mere fraction of her peers’ fame and respect. In Martin Provost’s graceful biopic, Emmanuelle Devos plays Leduc as a powder keg of a woman who used her loneliness and insecurity as the explosive fuel for her work. She gives a tremendous performance, somehow managing to turn an emotion as ugly as self-loathing into something beautiful to behold. A- –Missy Schwartz READ FULL STORY
Horses of God
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 55 MINS.
Four boys from the slums of Morocco mutate into suicide bombers in this tense drama, which uses the 2003 Casablanca terror attack as its backdrop. Director Nabil Ayouch hammers his points rather bluntly, but his filmmaking is hypnotic. The camera, initially jittery and handheld, slows to static shots, eerily matching the characters’ stagnant mindsets on their atrocious road to martyrdom. B+ –Joe McGovern READ FULL STORY
R, 1 HR., 55 MINS.
Jon Favreau spent most of the past decade directing the cinematic equivalent of two cheeseburgers (with extra cheese) in the form of the first two Iron Man blockbusters and one expensively overcooked turkey in the shape of Cowboys & Aliens. Now the former indie-scene hotshot (remember Swingers?) is attempting to prove he’s still capable of whipping up a character-driven comedy via the more modestly budgeted Chef.
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The Protector 2
R, 1 HR., 44 MINS.
Thai martial-arts maestro Tony Jaa’s newest film overloads on terrible F/X that rob the film of the actor’s usual brute-force balleticism. Also, RZA plays the bad guy — and someone needs to tell the Wu-Tang master that he can’t act (or fight). The Protector 2 does have a loony charm (actual line of dialogue: “You lost your elephant again?”), and Jija Yanin Wismitanan has a scene-stealing turn as a lady warrior seeking — wait for it — vengeance. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B- —Darren Franich
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 18 MINS.
Director Matt Wolf uses startling archival footage to capture the rise of pre-Elvis youth culture as the defining surge of the 20th century. He draws links between the flappers, the idle kids of the Depression, and even Hitler Youth to show us how teenagers first found a niche between alienation and ecstasy. B+ —Owen Gleiberman
The temptation to pat yourself on the back after making a movie that grossed $650 million worldwide must be overwhelming. At least, that’s the impression you get watching the new two-disc set of The Hunger Games (2012, PG-13, 2 hrs., 22 mins.)
As anyone who’s seen the teen blood-sport adventure knows, director Gary Ross and his trio of young stars (Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth) did a pretty remarkable job of staying true to the spirit of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel and delivering the goods without dumbing things down. They gave the book’s rabid fan base exactly what they wanted — at least within the parameters of a relatively gore-free PG-13 rating. So bravo to them. We can’t wait for next year’s sequel, Catching Fire.
That said, the more than three hours of extras left me a little… hungry. READ FULL STORY
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