Movie Reviews

Movie review: Upbeat 'Smashed' presents sobering look at alcoholism

Movie review: Upbeat 'Smashed' presents sobering look at alcoholism

One drink is too many, a thousand is never enough for Kate -- but who's counting? Certainly not Charlie, her adoring husband and fellow boozer in "Smashed," a compelling cautionary tale of (and primarily for) thirtysomething drinkers.

Each generation needs one. Or two. From "Lost Weekend" (1945) to "Days of Wine and Roses" (1962) down through the present, the lower dypso-depths are wherever you find them, including comfy Highland Park in northeast Los Angeles, where Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a first-grade teacher.

She's a good -- if hungover -- one, who swigs a beer in her morning shower and needs a couple hefty gulps of whiskey from a flask in the car before facing her kids. But the binging catches up with her at work, and one boozy haze leads to a worse one on the street, an ongoing lie, a humiliating theft and a realization of just how low she has sunk. Read more... about Movie review: Upbeat 'Smashed' presents sobering look at alcoholism

Vote: 
3

Lincoln film humanizes the legendary president

Gloria Reuben as Elizabeth Keckley, Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and Daniel

Fourscore and 17 years ago, our forefilmers brought forth upon this continent "The Birth of a Nation," conceived in racist liberties and dedicated to the proposition that all Abe Lincoln movies could play equally fast and loose with American history.

Now, Steven Spielberg is engaging us in a great Civil War film testing whether his and Tony Kushner's version of the Emancipator can endure the scrutiny of fact-checkers and whether audiences can endure 2 1/2-plus talky hours of what is essentially a courtroom drama about a piece of legislation.

There can be some quibbling but no commercial doubt about the result: No director is more "of, by and for" the people than Mr. Spielberg, in general. But the primary credit for "Lincoln's" impact goes to Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role and Tommy Lee Jones as his problematic ally, Thaddeus Stevens. You'll look hard and wait long to find another set of such beautifully calibrated performances from them and their distinguished chamber ensemble. Read more... about Lincoln film humanizes the legendary president

Vote: 
4

'Detropia' paints haunting picture

Performance artists is gas masks use decaying Detroit as a backdrop in a scene f

There, but for the grace of geography and hi-tech options, goes Pittsburgh -- to a place called "Detropia."

That neologism, combining "Detroit" and "dystopia," is the title of a wrenching but mesmerizing documentary with a much softer touch than Michael Moore's about our fatally stalled Motor City. Read more... about 'Detropia' paints haunting picture

Vote: 
3

Excellent cast delivers in 'Seven Psychopaths'

Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell pick up the wrong dog in the

If the black comedy at hand had a heroine, it might have been called "Snow White and the Seven Psychopaths." But since it doesn't, it's just plain "Seven Psychopaths" -- the most wickedly well-written and outrageously entertaining film I've seen this year.

We have Irish playwright Martin McDonagh to thank for writing and directing it. Protagonist Marty (Colin Farrell) has best bud Billy (Sam Rockwell) to thank for the psychopaths. He needs them to spice up the lackluster overdue screenplay he's been (hardly) working on. Billy suggests the wild-and-crazy psychopath path, pushing for a big climactic shootout -- a kind of "Wild Bunch of Psychos" homage to Peckinpah. Read more... about Excellent cast delivers in 'Seven Psychopaths'

Vote: 
3.5

'Sugar Man' documentary a deftly woven tale of mystery - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Rodriguez, and American singer-songwriter of the late 1960s and early 70s, is th

In the classified ads of life, nothing's more intriguing than the Lost and Found Department to documentary filmmakers. Pets and wedding rings have a way of disappearing. But how do you lose a rising music star whose records sold nearly a million copies and inspired a nation?

The MIA in "Searching for Sugar Man" is single-named Rodriguez, an obscure American singer-songwriter of the late '60s and early '70s. The nation he inspired wasn't the United States. It was South Africa, whence director Malik Bendjelloul sets forth to discover what happened to him. Read more... about 'Sugar Man' documentary a deftly woven tale of mystery - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Vote: 
2

Humor, pain mix in 'Chicken With Plums'

Golshifteh Farahani as Irane and Mathieu Amalric as Nasser Ali in the movie "Chi

Ah, Tehran -- such a charming, sophisticated city in 1958, when the late, not-so-great shah was in charge. You could concentrate on your artistic and romantic angst, instead of your fear and loathing of the ayatollahs, back then.

Once upon that time and place, there lived a great musician named Nasser-Ali Khan, whose unbeloved wife smashed his much-beloved violin during an argument. He could replace it, right? Wrong. He tries, but finds no instrument equal to it. With a broken fiddle and broken heart, he takes to his bed and resolves to die. Read more... about Humor, pain mix in 'Chicken With Plums'

Vote: 
3.5

Spike Lee's colorful 'Red Hook Summer' falls a bit short

Colorful Red Hook Summer falls a bit short

Back in the 1950s, when a million dollars still seemed like a lot of money, producer Sam Spiegel was asked why nobody could make a movie for $1 million any more. His reply: "Because you can't steal $1 million on a $1 million budget!"

The fact that Spike Lee made "Red Hook Summer" for under a mill, in 2012 -- his independent methods cutting out most of the studio system's built-in graft -- is thus amazing in itself. The movie, while perhaps less than amazing, is another unique entry in the canon of America's most important African-American director. Read more... about Spike Lee's colorful 'Red Hook Summer' falls a bit short

Vote: 
2

'Arbitrage' offers intriguing tale of financial corruption and moral bankruptcy

Richard Gere stars in Arbitrage.

After Hal 9000 -- the human-like computer in Stanley Kubrick's "2001" -- murders all but one of the spaceship's crew, he reassuringly tells the lone survivor, "Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down, take a stress pill and think things over. I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal."

Hal and his chutzpah are not unlike Robert Miller -- the computer-like human in "Arbitrage." He's a supremely confident hedge-fund tycoon on the verge of completing a last big deal -- the sale of his whole trading empire -- before comfortable retirement. He is played by Richard Gere, looking much like Marcello Mastroianni these days in his silver-fox older age, with a teenager's libido and sex appeal to older and younger ladies alike. Read more... about 'Arbitrage' offers intriguing tale of financial corruption and moral bankruptcy

Vote: 
3

'Sleepwalk With Me' a snoozer of an unfunny film

Sleepwalk With Me a snoozer of an unfunny film

Stand-up comic Mike Birbiglia explains that he's from an Italian family -- "but not real Italian, more Olive Garden Italian."

It's true, and it's mildly amusing. So is Mr. Birbiglia: a sort of kinder, gentler Seinfeld on white bread, not Jewish wry. He's the co-writer, co-director and star of "Sleepwalk With Me," based on his off-Broadway show. That show and this film incarnation of it concern his autobiographical challenges as a bartender-cum-comedian and boyfriend-cum-husband.

As Matt, he has long been in a relationship with adorable, adoring Abby (Lauren Ambrose), but he's still not ready to commit. We learn this, and other intimate details, as he speaks directly to us and the camera while driving: Abby had to persuade him to have sex for the first time. Read more... about 'Sleepwalk With Me' a snoozer of an unfunny film

Vote: 
2

'Cosmopolis': a claustrophobic stretch-limo ride into the future

Robert Pattinson rarely leaves the car in "Cosmopolis"

"Prophetic," when applied to novels and films, is no longer just an adjective. It's a whole genre. There's no better, or worse, example of that than David Cronenberg's movie version of the Don DeLillo book "Cosmopolis" -- a futuristic thriller with plenty to ponder, but precious few thrills. Read more... about 'Cosmopolis': a claustrophobic stretch-limo ride into the future

Vote: 
2

Pages

Subscribe to BarryParis.com RSS Feed