Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: September 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

Movie Review: Rush (2013)

by Tony Dayoub

Rush—the first great movie of the fall—hits theaters today, and it's by Ron Howard? The journeyman director has always been competent, but hardly impressive. With no particular distinctive qualities to distinguish him stylistically from any other filmmaker, Howard has had a difficult time earning the respect of critics, though this has been less of an issue when it comes to his peers or audiences. In years to come, Rush may prove to be the key work in understanding Howard's invisible style.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Movie Review: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013)

by Tony Dayoub

Be assured, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is definitely better than the first. That being said, this is not a major accomplishment since the first movie was a major slog to get through. With a color palette that ranged from day-glo to rainbow-tastic and rubber-band-shaped characters with malleable, indistinct personalities to match, it was a forgettable movie where scientist Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) was forced to sabotage his own invention-gone-wild after it starts creating gigantic food-based weather issues for his island town, Swallow Falls. Overlong and predictable, it was a dull affair even for pint-sized animated film fans. In this respect, Cloudy 2 is a success; the kids at the screening I attended (including my own) were engaged throughout, as were a good number of the adults.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Movie Review: Inequality for All (2013)

by Tony Dayoub

Whether it's Fox News or MSNBC, if you watch cable news, you've seen Robert Reich before. The 4'10" economics expert is a frequent guest pundit on political talk shows. Currently a Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and famed for his tenure as Bill Clinton's labor secretary, Reich also comes across as a bit of a showman in Inequality for All. This is not entirely a bad thing as the new documentary demonstrates. Sometimes it takes someone with a sense of the theatrical to explain our fractured economy in a way the layman can understand.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Movie Review: Enough Said (2013)

by Tony Dayoub

A sweet, sensitive romantic comedy, Enough Said seems like the perfect vehicle for Julia Louis-Dreyfus to finally get a shot at big-screen stardom. The untimely death of James Gandolfini, whose range was often underutilized, is heartbreaking given how director Nicole Holofcener manages to position this story of two divorcées finding love as a could-have-been potential breakout hit for both TV actors. Because of Gandolfini's passing, a bittersweet pall hangs over Enough Said that sometimes threatens to obscure the inherent gentleness of the film. Ultimately, though, both stars' engaging performances allow the movie to transcend whatever preconceived notions, real-world or otherwise, we attach to them.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Movie Review: The Short Game (2013)

by Tony Dayoub

Opening today in Atlanta (at AMC Phipps Plaza 14 and AMC Barrett Commons), The Short Game is a documentary about child golf champions. Of interest to more than sports fans, Josh Greenbaum's film presents us with close to ten kids from all around the world who in many cases seem better equipped to handle the pressure of competition than their parents or even, maybe, you. The first half is spent getting to know each golfer, their "daddy caddies" (the parent who helps them set up for the next shot), and their particular strengths and weaknesses. Most notable among the players: the surprisingly well adjusted Allan Kournikova, 7-year-old brother of, yes, that other famous Kournikova; 7-year-old Alexa Pano, reigning female world champion for her age who's even beat some 13-year-olds in competition; 8-year-old Amari Avery, a rising star with a bit of a temper when things don't go her way and nicknamed Tigress because her ethnic background is similar to that of Tiger Woods; 8-year-old Zama Nxasana, who's traveling all the way from South Africa for his next shot at bringing a trophy home; and 8-year-old Sky Sudberry, a diminutive Texan who never gets too caught up in the ups and downs of chasing down her dreams.

Movie Review: Prisoners (2013)

by Tony Dayoub

Few of us who have children could imagine how we would react if they had been kidnapped. Would we crumble under the emotional pressure, or would we keep enough of our wits about us to try to somehow deal with the situation? Denis Villeneuve's harrowing Prisoners presents us with a spectrum of parental reactions, ranging from that of an utterly broken mom spending most of her time weeping in bed to that of a bitter father charging through crime scenes at suspects who might not even have much to do with the disappearance at all.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Movie Reviews: In a World... (2013) and Things Never Said (2013)

by Tony Dayoub

As Carol Solomon, Lake Bell plays a vocal coach whose only work prospect at the moment is coaching actress Eva Longoria on a cockney accent for a movie she has to completely re-loop.
Longoria: Is that what you think you stupid slapper?
Carol: "Fink." Switch out the "t-h" for an "f'."
Longoria: Is that what you fink you stupid slapper?
It's a thankless task, made worse by the fact that Carol's dad Sam (Fred Melamed) believes it's the closest she'll come to following in his famed footsteps. Dad is a semi-retired movie trailer voice-over artist operating under the stage name Sam Sotto. His assertions of few opportunities for women in his line of work are constant and dispiriting. But Carol makes her own breaks, and is soon pursuing a career holy grail, to resurrect the cliché opener for many film previews, "In a world...", words that haven't been uttered over a trailer since the passing of the man most associated with the phrase, Don La Fontaine. The slight yet ingenious premise of In a World... allows Bell, who also wrote and directed, to craft a hilariously original comedy that feels like a Christopher Guest-directed mockumentary with an eccentric Annie Hall-type at its center.

The 51st New York Film Festival

by Tony Dayoub

Here's a tantalizing taste of the films playing in what I consider to be the most prestigious film festival in the U.S. Next month, I'll be doing my customary week of press screenings. Until then, enjoy a look at some of the amazing movies I plan on covering.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Movie Review: Short Term 12

by Tony Dayoub

Such is the power of Brie Larson's performance that it is, I assure you, what people will remember Short Term 12 for, both at the end of the year and perhaps far into the future. Larson has had some memorable turns before. She played Scott Pilgrim's bleached blond ex-grrlfriend Envy in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Molly, the popular high-schooler mixed up with a small-time dealer in last year's 21 Jump Street; and Cassidy, the level-headed ex-girlfriend of slick alcoholic Sutter in this year's The Spectacular Now. Get the picture? Larson is a talented actor who keeps getting stuck with pivotal, but still second-tier, supporting parts in some fairly good films. In Short Term 12, an astonishingly unpretentious indie about a foster-care facility for wayward teens, Larson gets to take center stage as Grace, an astute but conflicted counselor. And it is the viewer who gets to reap the rewards.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Movie Reviews: Austenland and Riddick

by Tony Dayoub

Summer blockbuster season is over. Film festival season has begun. But Oscar contenders (and this year there are many) haven't exactly started to filter out of the festivals and into general release just yet. In the meantime, studios are padding out their schedule with their second-tier product. Two films opening today in Atlanta fall into this middle ground. Not quite potential cash cows or destined for critical acclaim, each is a niche movie designed to appeal either to males or females but probably not both. Austenland is about an obsessive Jane Austen fangirl who has the opportunity to visit the immersive Austen getaway whose name gives the film its title. Riddick is the third entry in the Vin Diesel science fiction franchise created by writer-director David Twohy. One is a fairly original story with potential for unique greatness. The other is built on a hackneyed plot offering few surprises. Which do you think is the more successful of the two? Read on... it's probably not the one you'd expect.