Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
Coming to terms with life and loss with gusto, ‘Beginners’ is downright charming
Coming of age: it's not just for kids any more. At least that's true for the characters in Mike Mills' winsome, yet sneakily affecting comedy-drama, Beginners. On one hand, Mills explores choices (and compromises) made, roads not taken, and baggage inflicted in the course of one's life, along with a residual legacy of sadness passed through the generations. But the film is also a wryly humorous celebration of love in all its guises, friendship, family bonds, and finding oneself, at any age.
Ewan McGregor is wonderful as protagonist Oliver Fields, a 38-year-old graphic designer in Los Angeles whose romantic relationships never work out. Granted, he's had a lot to process in the last five years, since the death of his beloved mother.
Malick's 'Tree of Life' an uneven, yet visionary original
Don't expect linear storytelling from Terrence Malick. His rapturous last film, The New World, plunged viewers into first contact between English Puritan colonists and native American peoples without a road map, or a translator, or any idea on either side of the customs and culture of the other. Audiences who expected conventional storytelling were dumbfounded; there was no way in except to surrender to the strangeness—as the colonists and tribespeople themselves must have perceived it—and let the experience wash over you.
Malick's new film, The Tree of Life plunges us into more familiar terrain—growing up in suburban Middle America in the second half of the 20th century—and turns it into something strange and mysterious, a metaphor for the eternal search for grace and meaning in life.
J.J. Abrams delivers a powerfully engaging outing
If Stand By Me met a much more modern—if not fierce—E.T. it would resemble something like Super 8. This wildly exciting new film is cleverly written and masterfully directed by J.J. Abrams and it’s one you’re apt to remember for quite some time.
Abrams, you may recall, was responsible for rebooting the Star Trek film franchise a few years back—although whatever happened with that idea is still a mystery—as well as delivering a fascinating turn in the heartpounding Cloverfield. And let’s not forget all the fun he fueled into TV offerings like Alias, Fringe, Lost. But with Super 8, which has Steven Spielberg’s producer stamp on it, Abrams delivers a real surprise: a genuine summer movie event that hearkens back to the days when there actually were, well, summer movies you gave a damn about.
Modern writer time-travels to Jazz Age Paris in funny, fabulous 'Midnight In Paris'
From the fabulous poster art to a sweet little epiphany in the last frame, there is nothing not to love in Woody Allen's latest, Midnight In Paris. In the poster, star Owen Wilson is sauntering alongside the River Seine at night, while the extravagant blues and blazing, swirling lights of Van Gogh's "Starry Night" explode across the sky above the ancient buildings lining the bank. This single image says everything about the art, history, enduring fantasy, and cultural allure of Paris, issues Allen addresses with such savvy brio in this marvelously inventive film.
Wilson is all light, easygoing charm as American in Paris, Gil Pender. A typical Allen surrogate (garbed in Woody's traditional light blue shirt and khaki pants), Gil is a successful Hollywood screenwriter who longs to chuck it all and write serious fiction—preferably in a romantic garret in Paris.
'Incendies' an epic tragedy of love, war, and forgiveness
s one character observes late in the film, Incendies, "One spark sets everything off." And so it does, in this searing family drama from French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, an epic Greek tragedy of a film that's not for the fainthearted. Adapted from the internationally acclaimed stage play by Lebanese-born writer-actor-director Wajdi Mouawad, it examines the relentless cycles of violence and reprisals in the Middle East (and everywhere else) from a uniquely personal viewpoint that's both powerful and horrifying. This is a film one admires after the fact for the strength of its vision, but it's a harrowing thing to sit through.