It was a risk for director Richard Linklater to go so dark in "Before Midnight," the latest round of the romantic musings he began with his stars, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, nearly 20 years ago. The illusions of a more pristine love in "Before Sunrise" have been shelved so that the tipping point in a relationship can be laid bare. A devastating fight is the centerpiece now, the teasing flirtations a distant memory.
Though the gauzy beauty of the earlier films remains, as does a sun-drenched European setting, this time Greece, what you will remember, what you will feel compelled to talk about long after, is the fight. It sears with an intensity that rivals another classic battle between the sexes, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Though you needn't have seen the earlier films, it helps to know how it began. Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) were strangers on a Budapest to Paris train. Young, beautiful, bright, both having a serious go at adulthood but carefree enough to seize the...
"Epic," a fairy tale about a tiny universe of creatures who protect the forest, has many virtues.
The animation is lush and imaginative. The 3-D effects are stunning, among the best we've seen. The coming-of-age ideas are framed in eco-friendly ways. And the voice talent — an eclectic mix that includes Amanda Seyfried, Jason Sudeikis, Colin Farrell, Christoph Waltz, Josh Hutcherson, Chris O'Dowd, Aziz Ansari, Pitbull and Beyoncé — is excellent.
The story is a classic one of good versus evil. The problem is in the telling.
When the movie should touch the heart, it just misses. When moments should produce gales of laughter, it struggles for a smile. When panic and fear should set the heart racing, it doesn't. And when, in the midst of all the talking and fighting to save the forest, a caterpillar in a satin jacket breaks out in a bluesy song, you may wonder if Steven Tyler, yes that Steven Tyler, has jumped and jived...
"We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks" may be a documentary, but director Alex Gibney gives the film the feel of a propulsive espionage techno-thriller played out in the real world.
The movie is in some sense two films in one. It's partly a study of the well-known Julian Assange, who captured the world's attention when his WikiLeaks website made volumes of sensitive U.S. government material available online, sparking a firestorm of controversy over secrecy and freedom of information in the digital age. But viewers may be less familiar with Bradley Manning, the low-level Army intelligence analyst who provided Assange with his most daring cache of documents and is soon to begin a court-martial stemming from those activities.
Gibney (with editor Andy Grieve) does a skillful job of making the stories of the men dovetail and remain distinct. Audiences will likely go into the movie curious about Assange and leave concerned for Manning.
Consider "The Painting," the fourth feature by slow-moving 74-year-old French director Jean-François Laguionie, a twee "Wreck-It Ralph." Inside a primitive portrait, the subjects are divided into three canvas castes: Sketchies, wraith-like creatures made of pencil lines; Halfies, who were left half-painted; and their snobbish overlords, the Alldunns, who sneer at the incompletes from their castle in the upper left corner of the frame.
The metaphors keep coming. When an Alldunn boy falls for a Halfie girl, he insists to his pals that their Creator — the painter — will some day return to set the world right. To prove it, they venture beyond their border to explore the other artworks in the studio, which include a battlefield scene, a self-portrait, and a nude. Don't let the breasts keep you from bringing the kids — by the time the mammaries show up, the tykes will probably already be asleep.
Laguionie's animation is a lovely jumble of thick lines and saturated pastels,...
A morose young woman, a soft-spoken blood-drinker and plenty of rainy skies — no, it's not "Twilight," but a languid, micro-budgeted serial killer drama called "Vampire," the first English-language film from Japanese writer-director Shunji Iwai ("All About Lily Chou-Chou").
Mild-mannered science teacher Simon (Kevin Zegers) trolls suicide websites for girls — played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, Adelaide Clemens and Kristin Kreuk — who are willing to let him end their lives. Afterward, he partakes of their blood, a penchant that earns him the sobriquet the Vampire from local authorities.
Your ability to swallow Iwai's twisted take on consensual, doomed romanticism hinges on your taste for meandering art-film imagery and willful kookiness (Amanda Plummer as Simon's dementia-ridden mother, whom Simon keeps tied to white balloons).
Then there's the storytelling that veers between amateurishness and the kind of oddball dreams you wake up scratching your head about. Zegers'...
Though it's not that gracefully told and sometimes seems to exist just to plug eco-friendly cleaning supplies, "A Green Story" holds interest as a gentle, old-fashioned look at achieving the American dream. Credit veteran character actor Ed O'Ross ("Full Metal Jacket," "Six Feet Under"), who plays Greek immigrant and Earth Friendly Products founder Van Vlahakis with such avuncular warmth and decency for holding together this bumpy biopic.
Writer-director Nick Agiashvili flips back and forth in time, starting present-day as a 70ish Vlahakis faces a health crisis while juggling the demands of his slipping, family-run company. Flashbacks follow to 1942 Crete, where 7-year-old Van watched his father die at the hands of Nazi occupiers, and to 1950s and '60s Chicago as young adult Vlahakis (George Finn) goes from poor, novice chemist and distracted family man to creator of what would become the world's top-selling green laundry soap.
The film wrings little juice from the decidedly non-...
Zeroing in on the art of rehearsal, "Becoming Traviata" is an exquisitely observed look at performance and the creative process. You don't need to be an opera buff to appreciate Philippe Béziat's documentary, which makes the essentials of Verdi's romantic drama "La Traviata" clear while building its own stirring narrative around a French festival production's director and star.
Béziat takes in many telling details of the work-in-progress, from the backstage paintbrushes to the crew members working out their scenery cues, but the pulse of his film is the interaction between the director, Jean-Francois Sivadier, and the soprano, Natalie Dessay. As they prepare for a run of 2011 performances in Aix-en-Provence, their give-and-take is riveting, whether they're discussing a scene (procrastinating, Dessay says with a wonderful laugh) or enacting it.
Together, they work out the impulses behind the words and actions of the "fallen woman" Violetta, and Béziat pays careful attention to the way...
Alexander Payne’s new movie, “Nebraska,” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to largely favorable yet occasionally qualified reviews.
The film focuses on an aging resident of Montana (Bruce Dern) who's convinced he's won $1 million in a sweepstakes and is determined to travel to a prize headquarters in Omaha to collect. His son (Will Forte) agrees to drive him, taking a side trip to the small Nebraska town where his father was born.
A strong sense of a vanishing past holds sway over an illusory future in "Nebraska," Alexander Payne’s wryly poignant and potent comic drama about the bereft state of things in America’s oft-vaunted heartland. Echoing the director’s most recent film, "The Descendants," in its preoccupation with generational issues within families, how the smell of money contaminates the behavior of friends...
Sam Jones is one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed photographers. His celebrity portraits—of people such as George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Bob Dylan, Kristen Stewart — have appeared on the covers of Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and Men’s Journal.
Now Jones has decided that he’s not satisfied just focusing his camera on actors and musicians. He wants to find a way to memorialize what he calls one of the best (but never seen or published) parts of his job — the informal conversations between Jones and his subjects in the middle of a photo shoot.
His solution is called Off Camera, what Jones terms a combination “website, magazine, television show and podcast” featuring Jones’ black-and-white photography and in-depth interviews conducted by the photographer.
Launched in late April, OC’s first four subjects were actors Robert Downey Jr. and John Krasinski and musicians Aimee Mann and Blake Mills. Jones says future subjects...
CANNES, France — Jerry Lewis is premiering his new film — his first in 18 years — in Cannes on Thursday night, as the Daniel Noah-directed “Max Rose” plays for festgoers. But the octogenarian was creating a little in-person drama at the festival Thursday afternoon, when he let loose at a press conference with a barrage of hammy material that didn’t always land.
Wearing a bright red sweater, Lewis made noise from the moment he entered, hectoring an unseen person who was presumably in charge of audio at the press conference.
“You got a button there that says ‘Up,’ ” he said jokily — maybe. “You came to work. Move the volume up.”
Then the press conference got under way, and the big-in-France comedian seemed to be doing bits that had "irascible subject" as its conceit. “Why are you shouting?” he said to one questioner who was just excitedly asking a question.