The world of politics provides all the drama—and satiric fodder—any filmmaker could ask for. And even though the public has shown indifference to such movies in recent years, Hollywood keeps making them. The Ides of March has star-power on its side, with George Clooney and Ryan Gosling in the leads, but even if people are attracted to theaters by their presence they’re not likely to leave feeling satisfied. The Ides of March has nothing new to offer in its portrait of the campaign trail, and doesn’t seem quite sure what—
Drive arrives with its credentials of cool all set: a hot star (Ryan Gosling) in the lead, a smart supporting cast, a Best Director prize from the Cannes Film Festival, and a stylish retro-noir look. These assets may hoodwink some audiences who don’t stop—or want to stop—to explore the emptiness of the movie or its incoherency.
Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn has chosen style over substance. The screenplay (by Hossein Amini, from a novel by James Sallis) would have you believe that its main character is existential when it seems to me he’s—
When a movie opens with a woman telling her husband that she wants a divorce after twenty-five years of marriage and it isn’t played for laughs, you know you’re not in for a “typical” Hollywood comedy. Given the current state of comedy, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but what we get instead is an odd, meandering, mood-swinging movie called Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Yes, there’s a period at the end of the title, for no apparent reason.)
As the central couple, Steve Carell and Julianne Moore play their scenes honestly and believably, so while the characters and incidents around them become farcical at times, the core of the film remains—
Two daring performances make Blue Valentine a standout, even if the film’s reach somewhat exceeds its grasp. Director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance attempts to explore the beginning and end of an intimate relationship, hopscotching back and forth in time from the couple’s first meeting and subsequent wooing through the utter disintegration of their marriage.
The film was shot with a six-week break in order to allow Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams to gain weight and subtly alter their appearance to indicate the passage of five years’ time. It takes some getting used to, but it’s a fascinating conceit. Without question, it’s the actors’ commitment to this material that makes—
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