The early history of Alcoholics Anonymous has always fascinated me, so I was eager to see the much heralded new documentary Bill W.
Viewers don’t look to James Bond movies for profundity. Mostly they go to see buxom babes (now brainier and badder) and gravity-defying vehicle chases. But the most recent Bond installment offers some pertinent comments on technology.
Though this movie wants to be about and for adults, it’s hamstrung by the soap-opera mentality of its writers, Roberto Orci and Jody Lambert, and its director, Alex Kurtzman.
This low-key, intimate Canadian film is in danger of passing by unnoticed. An anatomy of two relationships—a marriage and a courtship that overlap—the film is excitingly fresh and unconventional, and one of the few bright spots in a dim summer movie season.
Safety Not Guaranteed tells the story of Darius (Aubrey Plaza), a bored intern at a Seattle magazine. While researching a human interest story about Kenneth (Mark Duplass), a scientist/ store clerk who has placed a newspaper ad looking for a companion to accompany him into the future, Darius finds herself learning valuable life lessons about trust, loss, hope and, of course, love.
Writer-director Todd Solondz is the patron saint of schlubs and schlemiels. From his award-winning debut film Welcome to the Dollhouse (1996) through a series of low-budget projects, he casts an empathic eye on outsiders who can’t catch a break, no matter how hard they try.
The extraterrestrial vistas in Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s prequel to his 1979 blockbuster hit Alien, are handsome (Dariusz Wolski shot them), but the movie is an expensive dud, dull and incoherent.
Lit by the prodigious cinematographer Darius Khondji, Rome looks glorious in Woody Allen’s latest, an omnibus of four loosely connected comedies in different styles. The movie is a pleasant diversion, if rather clumsy in its construction.
In cinema, children generally represent wisdom. Their innocence suggests a mind and spirit that has not yet been polluted by anger, disappointment, jealousy, greed, bitterness or any of the other flaws and foibles that accumulate as we turn the corner from adolescence to adulthood.
Dark Shadows, Tim Burton’s film of the popular camp-gothic soap opera from the ’60s and early ’70s, is silly and over the top. But it has a marvelous, billowing look, and it’s quite entertaining.
Writer-director Joss Whedon, the creator of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, saves the world from destruction yet again in the first of the summer blockbusters, Marvel’s The Avengers. The adventure is moderately enjoyable but rather exhausting.
Whenever people complain to me about the lack of “realistic” movies out there, I point them to tiny gems such as Ann Hui’s A Simple Life, Hong Kong’s entry for last year’s Oscar for best foreign language film.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, by British director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love), is a “hands across the water” movie flavored with large doses of “there’ll always be an England” pluck. It culminates in a warm and thoughtful look at our innate ability to rediscover unexplored strengths within ourselves even on the last few miles of life’s journey.
Movies about education are seldom convincing; their depiction of what goes on in the classroom hardly ever tallies with our own experiences. So the sweet and poignant Quebecois film Monsieur Lazhar is a rare pleasure.