In Contention

Entries filed in: 'Reviews'

TELLURIDE: Close’s passion for ‘Nobbs’ unmistakable, though maybe blinds to flaws

Posted by · 12:29 am · September 3rd, 2011

Hats off to Glenn Close. Really. When you’ve lived with and loved a role and a story for as long as she’s hung on to “Albert Nobbs” (which she first performed as a play way back in 1982), you deserve a pat on the back. She’s been trying to get this made as a film […]

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TELLURIDE: ‘The Artist,’ ‘Pina’

Posted by · 11:30 pm · September 2nd, 2011

Today began, as already conveyed, with the first-ever screening of Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants.” I managed two more films, one of them capsuled here. I’ll get to “Albert Nobbs” separately, but just to clean my plate a little… Hazanavicius’s ‘Artist’ doesn’t quite reach the hype There is very little doubt in my mind that we’ll […]

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‘Contagion’ keeps you at arm’s length — by design

Posted by · 11:02 pm · September 2nd, 2011

Spinning off of comments made in the podcast this morning, I liked Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” quite a bit. It doesn’t reinvent the outbreak movie wheel per se, but it manifests a unique cross-section of characters and dissects them clinically, perhaps the film’s (and screenplay’s) biggest stroke of genius. There isn’t a lot of heart to […]

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TELLURIDE: Payne’s ‘Descendants’ plays, but doesn’t quite reach the bar he’s set for himself

Posted by · 4:23 pm · September 2nd, 2011

Over the years Alexander Payne has been invited to Telluride to debut various films, but conflicts with other festivals have always kept that from becoming a reality. He finally attended his first SHOW here two years ago as a Guest Director for the festival. And today, he finally brought a film with him, debuting “The […]

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REVIEW: “A Dangerous Method” (**1/2)

Posted by · 8:50 am · September 2nd, 2011

Venice Film Festival “Do you think they know we’re on our way, bringing them the plague?” So asks Viggo Mortensen’s Sigmund Freud of his younger colleague Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), as the two approach New York City to gift the untreated denizens of America with their equally grueling brands of psychoanalysis, in the closing stretch […]

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REVIEW: “W.E.” (*1/2)

Posted by · 11:47 pm · September 1st, 2011

Venice Film Festival There’s such a bounty of ripe absurdities in Madonna’s sophomore directorial effort “W.E.” — an over-the-spectacles glance at the supposedly for-the-ages romance of Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, blending the story of “The King’s Speech,” the structure of “Julie & Julia,” the styling of “A Single Man” and the collected smarts of […]

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REVIEW: “Carnage” (**1/2)

Posted by · 7:50 am · September 1st, 2011

Venice Film Festival When the title of Yasmina Reza’s acclaimed 2006 play “God of Carnage” was given a haircut in its transition to the screen, it was hard to read what — if anything — the change implied about the film to come. On the one hand, “Carnage” sounds pithier and more aggressive, removing the […]

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REVIEW: “The Ides of March” (***)

Posted by · 7:14 am · August 31st, 2011

Venice Film Festival “I’m not a Christian. I’m not an atheist. I’m not a Muslim. I’m not Jewish. I believe in the American constitution,” intones a spiffily-suited and even fresher-faced-than-usual Ryan Gosling as the opening line of “The Ides of March,” George Clooney’s crisp, diverting and typically (even overly) studious political thriller. Standing at the […]

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‘Martha Marcy,’ my, my, my

Posted by · 8:52 am · August 30th, 2011

After the film caused a major splash at Sundance in January and continued the discussion at Cannes in May, it’s safe to say I’ve been champing at the bit to see what Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene” had in store. I expected an above average indie experience with highlights of talent to likely be […]

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Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba

Posted by · 1:56 pm · August 27th, 2011

Disney held it’s big premiere for “The Lion King 3D” today at The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, fit with live African bongo music, a green carpet (made of fake grass) and a “Hakuna Matata” dress code. Not a bad way to spend an early Saturday afternoon, and I’ve been looking forward to this for […]

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‘Warrior’ pulls its punches

Posted by · 10:57 pm · August 19th, 2011

I have to say, even though the pieces were there and I tend to respond overwhelmingly to father/son dramas, I was really surprised at how little I felt emotionally while watching Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior.” And O’Connor really excels at this stuff, in general, for me. But it didn’t come together this time. I feel pretty […]

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REVIEW: “One Day” (***)

Posted by · 6:41 pm · August 19th, 2011

“I love you, Dexter, I just don’t like you anymore,” a radiantly moist-eyed Anne Hathaway tells a radiantly plastered Jim Sturgess at a crucial emotional juncture in “One Day,” Lone Scherfig’s attractive, involving and curiously unmoving attempt to replicate the cosy, literate-but-not-too-literary British comforts of her 2009 “An Education.” Cribbed by screenwriter David Nicholls from […]

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‘50/50’ draws laughs and tears, but Gordon-Levitt owns it

Posted by · 8:44 am · August 18th, 2011

It’s probably a bit ridiculous that I haven’t seen Jonathan Levine’s “The Wackness” yet. I have the screener somewhere around here and it’s just one of those films I keep forgetting to watch, despite constant encouragement to do so. Therefore, “50/50,” a dramedy from writer Will Reiser based on his own experience being diagnosed with […]

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SHORT TAKE: “Senna” (****)

Posted by · 8:56 am · August 10th, 2011

It seems perverse to begin a review of a documentary — one about a well-known, latter-day sports legend, at that — with something as mundanely cautious as a spoiler alert. Until recently, if general knowledge hadn’t already acquainted a viewer with the outcome of a non-fiction feature, or if the laws of real, unheightened life hadn’t […]

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‘The Help’ and the year’s best ensemble performance…so far

Posted by · 2:49 pm · August 3rd, 2011

Now that I’m done crying my eyes out, a few words on Tate Taylor’s “The Help,” which I caught this afternoon. It’s a beautiful film, safe, sure, but it knows where to lay the emotional hammer down and where to let the rock keep skipping on the surface. Most striking is the ensemble, as there […]

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COMIC-CON: Refn’s ‘Drive’ is a bullet of vision

Posted by · 11:40 am · July 23rd, 2011

I’ve had to sit on my feelings on Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive,” which had a special screening here Thursday night, because I haven’t found a window to write about it. That’s either good or bad, I don’t know, because the film has just continued to grow in my mind, but I don’t want to over-inflate […]

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‘Captain America’ keeps the summer sizzling

Posted by · 12:00 am · July 20th, 2011

So, “Captain America: The First Avenger” wraps up the summer’s superhero slate this week. Yes, we have “Cowboys & Aliens” on the way to keep the general comic book flow going, but Marvel’s other bookend to the summer hits Friday, and, well, I thought it was just (yankee doodle) dandy. “Robust” is the word that […]

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My only friend, the end

Posted by · 10:41 am · July 12th, 2011

I’ll make this brief. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” hits this weekend. It will be massive. The devoted will turn out and love it. The sense of grand closure will settle for many. But I’ll just have to cop here at the beginning to the fact that I cannot connect the dots […]

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