Tuesday, August 25, 2015
NIGHTINGALE is the powerful character study of obsession, unrequited love and pent up emotional abuse and self-loathing. British dir. Elliot Lester (BLITZ, INTERSTELLAR) does an incredible job of impacting the screen with poignancy and dialogue within a limited set and a solo actor. The lone actor is David Oyelowo (b. Britian) known for his Golden Globe winning roles as MLK in SELMA and for his role in THE BUTLER. Oyelowo plays Peter Snowden, a war vet who is at odds with his life, his family, work and obsessively consumed with reconnecting with his former lover, David, whom he served with in the military. David informed Peter he was married with children thought Peter chose not to believe him. Peter is now living with his mother a religious zealot who condemns her son's sexual orientation as blasphemous. The entire gripping conversations are one-sided. Peter bickers bitterly with his mother, sister & co-worker. He pleads with Gloria, David's wife to allow them to speak on the phone. We watch Peter's downward spiral in alcoholic binges, destructive rage and his wallow in self-pity. His pleadings with Gloria escalate into hostile rants followed by mournful apologies. NIGHTINGALE is an intense examination of an individual's mental implosion. We shuttle between feelings of sympathy for Peter's loneliness and cruel treatment to horrified distain at his violent and cunning deceitfulness. Oyelowo's haunting performance is spellbinding. He is an exceptionally talented actor. Rent NIGHTINGALE released in ('14) if you've missed it. It is an unforgettable film well worth watching.
Monday, August 24, 2015
Dir. Joel Edgerton directs & stars in this chilling, creepy, cat/mouse, couple's counseling thriller. Edgerton plays Gordon or as Bateman (Simon) refers to him as weirdo Gordo. Simon is married to Robyn (Rebecca Hal, IRON MAN 3l.) Simon & Robyn have just relocated to LA where they encounter Gordon. Gordon introduces himself to Simon as his old grade school classmate whom Simon doesn't seem to recall. The film is shot in LA and your LAH LAH karmic film it's not. It's a mysterious mixture of suspense, terror, tormentor/tormented, relationship vetted picture that's mesmerizing and surprising. Whose the real culprit? Who is disingenuous and whose behavior is heinous? The cast is 1st rate, especially Bateman who proves his acting has broad appeal. Edgerton's direction is paced with mounting tension and intrigue. As Gordon, his performance is both sinister and sympathetic. This movie may not have broad appeal. It's annoying, frightening factors should eliminate the faint of heart. But, the twist & turns & credible cunning in The GIFT is a present worth opening. The wink to Rosemary Baby's is eerie. Oh, was that a buzz kill? Perhaps for the meek but for not for those who seek a unique psycho/thriller suspense film that delivers.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
My hiatus away from the greatest city in the world, NYC, i.e. the Big Apple, has not been amiss moments of small town cultural bliss: music on the square, 4th of July parade & frog jumping contest (okay-the last was a fib.) For real, our small town pop. 7,635 boasts of a town square complete with redwoods, water fountain, gazebo and 2 independent bookstores located around the square (and no Starbucks.) Copperfields Bookstore (a small chain in northern CA) offers monthly, free drop in book groups. This month's book was Harper Lee's GO SET a WATCHMAN. A great way to get to know your neighbors, join an intellectual discussion and exchange ideas. Lee's historical fiction was a topical selection leading to friendly, stimulating conversation. The monthly meeting is open to everyone, free of charge. In fact, the book of the month is 25% discounted. What a great idea for New Yorkers; have book groups where anyone is welcome. Copperfields will be holding their Sept. meeting with a wine tasting. In Oct., Jonathan Frazen will be coming to speak in the area about his new and his book is the selection for October's discussion. On the UWS there has been a resurgence of independent bookstores. Two Book Culture stores have opened and the large Barnes & Noble remains open on Bwy. (I still bemoan the closing of the Barnes & Noble where a Century 21 now stands.) Perhaps a beacon of hope awaits bibliophiles in New York who love to read & blab & gab.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
WHAT WE DO in the SHADOWS is the funniest vampire/werewolf spoof that will have you howling. This mockumentary (which lampoons the genre) stars Jermaine Clement & Rhys Darby (both from the hit TV series Flight of the Concord.) Clement stars as a sexy vampire and Darby as an alpha male (Hugh Jackman wanna be) werewolf. The piercing comedy is driven by Taika Waititi, the ingratiating Felix Unger vampire who tries to keep peace in & out of the vampire frat house. Waititi's earnest & deadpan humor is devilishly disarming. This is the comedy hit you'll wonder how you missed when it first bit the big screen. Don't miss it. It's a scream
The erudite and entertaining film, The END of the TOUR is a verbose interchange of intellect between acclaimed author David Foster Wallace & writer/journalist David Lipsky. The film written by NYTimes' best-selling author Lipsky, is done in flashback from the night of Wallace's suicide in 2008 to 12 years earlier. Lipsky spent several days taping & entrapping Wallace for the 1st ROLLING STONE interview of a writer. Wallace is an acclaimed writer & writing prof. who is affable & awkward. Lipsky argued to obtain the interview and he comes off as bombastic and self-serving. Wallace is played by Jeff Segel (How I Met Your Mother) in an Oscar worthy performance that is provocative and sympathetic. Jessie Eisenberg is cast in the role of David Lipsky the ROLLING STONE writer who seeks notoriety from and insight into the genius of Wallace. Dir. James Ponsoldt (The SPECTACULAR NOW) does a brilliant job keeping us interested in a cat & mouse game between 2 acclaimed writers although only Lipsky appears disingenuous and opportunistic. The cinematography captures the look of midwest, small towns in mid-winter. The budding bromance is fraught with frigid moments and ice-breaking, honest revelations. Segel may have jumped started his movie career while Eisenberg seems stuck in the same petulant, pouting performance. Joan Cusack's cameo role as the consummate midwesterner is hilarious. Still, this is a dynamic drama that draws on a lot of raw human emotions. The END of the TOUR should pique an interest in both the writings of Wallace and Lipsky. It is an engaging film from beginning to end.
Saturday, August 8, 2015
If you don't find yourself laughing out loud and enjoying every maudlin moment with Meryl & McDonald, then you're probably - young or male. I'll have to forgive you that one. For those of us who remember the 80's with nostalgia and know few stars like Streep, Kline & McDonald come along each generation, let your heart get lost in this family drama/romance and just drift away. By the way, this generation has Mamie Gummer who plays Julie, the suicidal, volatile daughter to Ricki (Streep) and Pete (Kline.) Gummer is Streep's own daughter; with her own real star power. Ricki was the absent mom who left her husband/family to make it as a rock star in LA. McDonald plays the wife/mother who "filled the whole" left by Ricki. But, fame & fortune is a magnet. It can pull you far from home. With a dream & a family, you're never alone. Your ex will bring you back when your daughter's husband exits. Ricki and the Flash is the rock band that has a loyal fan base of a few oldies. They show up regularly in the local Tarzana "Cheers" pub. Day after day, I get more confused. Is that Rick Springfield in the band and in bed with Streep? The elder generation is not the only ones who get lampooned; ain't it a shame. Streep does an amazing job singing with her fabulous FLASH band featuring Springfield. Ironic, McDonald doesn't sing. But look for the light that shines through the melodrama and let the melody soothe you. Ah, come on everyone, just have fun; every boy, girl, woman and man.