Gripping new doc 'Bully' exposes schoolyard epidemic
For many people, middle/junior and high school are ordeals to be slogged through on the way to one's "real" life. Yet, there's never any shortage of chirpy idiots around trying to convince us that these are "the best years of your lives." Tell it to Alex, Ja'Meya, Kelby, and Tyler, the real-life teen heroes and heroines struggling (or failing) to survive their school years in Lee Hirsch's gripping documentary, Bully. If, like me, you'd rather not spend another nanosecond inside of a school, even virtually, Bully will be a kind of endurance test—which is why it limns the endurance test of middle/high school with such effective and sobering clarity.
Fractured fairy tale 'Mirror Mirror' goes for the yuks
Did you hear the one about Snow White and the Seven Stooges? That's the prevailing sensibility in Mirror Mirror, the first of two dueling Snow White movies due out this spring. (The second, Snow White and the Huntsman, opens June 1.) Directed by the sometimes-brilliant Tarsem Singh (The Fall), Mirror Mirror tells the oft-told tale with plenty of visual pizzazz and the grrrl power element that's become de rigueur in updated fairy tales. Unfortunately, the emphasis on campy slapstick—especially among the dwarfs—is almost as fatal as a poison apple to the project.
Sexy, simmering 'Chico & Rita' dances to a Latin drummer
Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba's buoyant, brooding Chico & Rita is a cool, spicy salsa of love, jealousy, politics, betrayal, and fame. It pulsates with glamorous images, sensual yearning, vintage cars and nonstop music in a sprawling romantic drama of sex, drugs, and bebop jazz that stretches from pre-revolutionary Cuba to Broadway, Hollywood, Paris, Las Vegas, and finally back again to the Cuba of Fidel Castro.
Great cast, funny script, in charming 'Salmon'
Getting to hear the always-watchable Ewan McGregor act in his own Scots accent (more or less) is only one of the many small charms in Salmon Fishing In the Yemen. A clear-headed,yet open-hearted romantic comedy-drama about impossible dreams and unlikely alliances, the film is directed by Lasse Hallström with his usual touch of warm fuzziness, spiced up here with a dash of political satire, and a frisson of cross-cultural utopianism. But the themes never intrude too deeply on the film's sneaky sense of fun.
Ewan McGregor on ‘Salmon Fishing …’ the state of today’s independent films and the trick to catching memorable roles
Whether he's playing an enigmatic Jedi (Star Wars I, II, III) or a befuddled albeit loyal son (Beginners), Ewan McGregor sports a certain élan not often present in most of today's leading men—aside from George Clooney perhaps. Having discernment for the roles he takes on certainly helps, but the way McGregor fully embodies the characters he plays is unique and captivating.