Spiritual trek becomes journey of self-discovery in 'The Way'
It's not just any old way. The title of Emilio Estevez's wistful road movie of self-discovery, The Way, refers to what has become the way for centuries of pilgrims—"El camino de Santiago," the way of St. James, the route across northern Spain to the cathedral of Santiago de la Compostela in Galicia. Writer-director Estevez launches a mismatched group of modern pilgrims along this sacred site, for a variety of reasons, none of them particularly religious. But for each character, the journey takes on a spiritual aspect in the human quest for connection and meaning in life.
It may sound touchy-feely, or just plain corny, and there are moments of both in the film. And yet the movie engages, not only as a glorious travelogue of ancient villages and folkways far off the beaten track (it was shot on location in France and Spain), but in the ways the characters make little discoveries about themselves and each other as they travel along. It also may have viewers itching to follow the route, just to see who they might discover within when they leave their familiar selves behind.
Enter a teeming Bruegel painting in audacious, exciting 'Mill and the Cross'
I don't know much about Polish filmmaker Lech Majewski, but he's made one wild, weird-ass movie about art and the artmaking process in The Mill and the Cross. It's a fairly awful title for such an edgy experiment. Yes, a mill and a cross figure prominently in the painting under construction in the film, but this title not only makes the film sound dull and plodding, it suggests none of the originality and sheer visual audacity that makes this movie so exciting.
In general, it's about the 16th Century Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder, caught in the act of creating his vast masterwork, "The Way To Calvary," in 1564. Majewski's film is inspired by a non-fiction book on the subject by art historian Michael Francis Gibson, but Majewski's approach is completely unconventional. We never see the artist actually painting; instead, Majewski creates an onscreen landscape that already looks like Bruegel's painting, especially the background, with its sky full of roiling clouds and the distant hills.
Buddy farce '50/50' evoles into thoughtful, humane survival comedy
It's said when a person faces mortality, his entire life flashes before his eyes. It didn't happen that way for comedy producer and screenwriter Will Reiser. When he was diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer, he couldn't help noticing the absurdist side of the situation as he progressed from diagnosis to therapy, chemo and surgery. Where others might see a tragedy in progress, Reiser was thinking: comedy script.
Pitt scores in entertaining, real-life baseball saga 'Moneyball'
When I first heard about the baseball movie Moneyball, I had the wrong idea of what it was all about. The story of Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane throwing out a century of tradition to assemble a team according to strict computer analysis sounded like another instance of solid, old-fashioned values being replaced by bean-counters and statisticians—the incorporation of baseball for profit.
But, in fact, just the opposite is going on in Michael Lewis' non-fiction book, "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game," and this entertaining screen adaptation.
Smart, slick, stylish 'Drive' ready to hit the road
Ryan Gosling does not typically make safe acting choices. After gaining attention a decade ago as a Jewish neo-Nazi skinhead in The Believer, Gosling has crafted an impressive resume in chameleon-like range of roles—from the romance of The Notebook, to eccentric comedies like Lars and the Real Girl and Crazy, Stupid Love, to the intense indie dramas Half Nelson (for which he racked up an Oscar nomination) and Blue Valentine.
So when Gosling decides to do an action movie, there's a reasonable chance it won't be the usual Hollywood sellout. It will, in fact, be a movie like Drive, a lean, streamlined, stylish suspense thriller, with a very particular sense of mood. Danish-born director Nicolas Winding Refn has his own smart ideas about crafting suspense and delivering thrills. And with Gosling on board—literally, in the driver's seat—this is one slick, souped-up vehicle ready to hit the road.