THE FILM YAP » julianne moore We Never Shut Up About Movies Sat, 21 Sep 2013 22:19:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 6 Souls Tue, 02 Jul 2013 09:18:55 +0000 Christopher Lloyd Continue reading ]]> 6 Souls - inside

“6 Souls” is more interesting to ponder as a cinematic failure than as an actual movie.

It stars some very talented performers, including Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. And the Swedish directors, Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, certainly know how to make a movie visually interesting; the film is a slick blend of muted colors and inky shadows.

So how come this horror/thriller is such a complete disaster?

It helps to know the film was shot five years ago, and hung around the studio’s vault gathering dust before finally being shunted out to pay-per-view and a modest theatrical run this spring.

Screenwriter Michael Cooney breaks out that moldy oldie of a story concept: multiple personalities. That stopped being a fresh idea for a screenplay about 40 years ago. Never mind that most psychiatrists consider it bunk.

Actually, heroine Cara Harding (Moore) is among them. The story opens with her dismissing split personalities as a figment. But then she’s introduced to a patient, David (Rhys Meyers), who appears to be the real McCoy.

David is a shy, sweet Southerner confined to a wheelchair. But Adam is a brash lothario who walks unimpeded. Rhys Meyers emotes each of these shifts between personalities by going into a twitching, spasmodic orgy of tics.

Other personalities manifest themselves as time goes by, and we soon lose track of who’s who. Plus a supernatural element enters late in the game, along with a hillbilly mystic muttering something about curses and the devil.

What’s supposed to be scary instead comes across as incredibly goofy … then tiresome.

As for video extras … there aren’t any. Nada, zip, zilch – not even a theatrical trailer. This only lends credence to the notion that “6 Souls” got dumped by its studio.

Not that it didn’t deserve it.

Film: 1.5 Yaps
Extras: N/A

Extras: 1 Yap

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The English Teacher Thu, 25 Apr 2013 12:39:53 +0000 Joe Shearer Continue reading ]]>
Release Date: May 17, 2013 (limited release)

Rating: Not Yet Rated


Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore) is a 40-year-old unmarried high school English teacher in the small town of Kingston, PA. Her simple life turns an unexpected page when former student Jason Sherwood (Michael Angarano) returns home after trying to make it as a playwright in New York. On the verge of abandoning art and pressured by his father (Greg Kinnear), to face reality and go to law school, Linda decides to mount his play—a dark, angst-ridden, ambitious work—as a Kingston High production, with flamboyant drama teacher Carl Kapinas (Nathan Lane) directing. Now well out of her comfort zone, Linda takes further risks in life and love, the stage is set for a highly comic downfall. With the play, her reputation, and teaching career on the line, Linda finds an unlikely ally in herself. Amidst the ruins of her formerly perfect life, can she find a way to her own unique storybook ending?

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6 Souls Fri, 05 Apr 2013 16:56:12 +0000 Christopher Lloyd Continue reading ]]> 6 Souls - inside

The filmmakers behind “6 Souls” are not without skill, and it features some very talented actors — Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Frances Conroy. So why is it a complete disaster?

This psychological/paranormal thriller is totally lacking in suspense, an engaging plot or any kind of visceral impact. Honestly, I struggled to get through it.

The studio provided me with an online screener, so I watched it in fits and starts over a couple of days. No doubt this experience was completely different from sitting in a theater, we’re you’re immersed in darkness and can’t leave … well, at least not if you’re there to do a job.

My guess is if I could have left, I would have.

The movie, originally titled “Shelter,” was shot fully five years ago by Swedish directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, from a screenplay by Michael Cooney, a horror specialist (“Identity,” “Jack Frost”). I get the sense that it didn’t test well, so it was backburnered while the studio figured out what to do with it. Rather than just dumping it on video, they went with the increasingly common two-tiered strategy of putting it out on pay-per-view with a simultaneous modest theatrical release.

The set-up is that it’s a split-personality story — the sort of thing that has existed as cinematic fodder for 40 years or so despite being an extraordinarily rare and much-debated diagnosis in the psychiatric field. Count Cara Harding (Moore) among the skeptics. As the story opens, she’s testifying in a case where she basically asserts that the whole concept of someone with multiple personalities is bunk.

One person trying to change her mind is her father (Jeffrey DeMunn), also a head-shrinker, who has encountered what he thinks is a legitimate split-personality case. He invites Cara in to consult, and soon she’s swept up in the saga.

Moore and DeMunn have some nice scenes together, part of a lifelong father/daughter chess game. He urges her to challenge her preconceived notions of how the human mind works while she thinks he’s unable to admit when he’s wrong. If the movie had actually stayed focused on this dynamic, with the patient acting only as a catalyst to further their conflict, it might have made for an interesting drama.

Instead, the story heads straight into schlocky boo-gotcha territory, with increasing evidence that this thorny case of mental instability is, in fact, actually the work of … wait for it … The Devil!

Things end up in hillbilly country, where grim snaggletooth men throw hard stares at Cara as she investigates the case. Eventually, she’s brought before The Granny, an ancient crone/mystic/leader, who fills her in on the tale of a faith healer who died in the early 20th century after betraying his people.

It becomes apparent that his horrid curse is being replicated today, with victims bothered by festering sores on their back in the shape of a cross, and a rash of (literally) dirty mouths.

Rhys Meyers flails mightily in the role of the patient but ends up coming across as more silly than frightening. His abrupt shifts to different personalities are triggered by a phone call requesting to speak with one of his other hosts, at which point his head snaps back and he makes all sorts of odd crunching noises, as if  he’s practicing self-chiropractic care.

His default personality is David, a mild-mannered Southern boy confined to a wheelchair. The flip side of the loony coin is Adam, a brash New Yorker who leaps out of the wheelchair, antagonizing Cara with questions about her own family and past. Later, we encounter Wesley and Charles, two men who … well, I shouldn’t give that away.

“6 Souls” is a wretchedly unwatchable train wreck of a film.

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Crazy, Stupid, Love. Sun, 30 Oct 2011 13:00:49 +0000 Lauren Whalen Continue reading ]]>

Sometimes you just want a romantic comedy. It’s the cinematic equivalent of comfort food: unchallenging in its flavor and familiar from the first bite to the clean-plate end. Rom-coms are often compared to sugary confections (great in moderation but generally unhealthy), but it goes deeper than that. Too much comfort food will kill you, but just the right amount is utterly satisfying.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love.” is pure rom-com comfort. It’s smart and well-acted enough to be substantial, and though darker elements are present, the film never veers into tragic territory. “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” knows what the audience wants and what they can handle, and only occasionally does this savvy resemble pandering.

Heading up a strong ensemble cast is Steve Carell as Cal Weaver, who’s in for a rude awakening when wife Emma (Julianne Moore) reveals she’s dallied with a coworker (Kevin Bacon) and wants a divorce. Crushed, Cal drowns his sorrows at a hip bar where pinky-ringed playboy Jacob (Ryan Gosling) takes pity on the schlubby dad in New Balance sneakers. Cue makeover sequence and “how to be a player” montage. Meanwhile, newbie lawyer Hannah (Emma Stone) lusts after Conan O’Brien but finds herself intrigued by Jacob despite his tomcat tendencies, and Cal and Emma’s teenage son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is convinced he’s found his soulmate in the babysitter (Analeigh Tipton).

“Crazy, Stupid, Love.” isn’t going to win any awards, or go down in history as The Best Romantic Comedy of All Time (a title currently held by “When Harry Met Sally”). The script hits all the right notes, occasionally all too well. Predictability is often desirable in rom-coms, but certain moments in this script border on sitcom structure. And why does Cal’s fling Kate (Marisa Tomei) have to be such a neurotic mess? Not every woman out at a bar is trolling for a boyfriend.

But for every wrong in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” there’s a right. Each main character is well-cast and authentic: from Carell’s earnest pathos to Gosling’s playing against hero type to Stone’s believable gawkiness. Bobo and Tipton’s youthful give and take paints a wincingly funny portrait of adolescent unrequited lust at its best (and worst). The soundtrack is lovely and pleasing without being cloying, and moments of dialogue — particularly Carell’s monologue late in the third act — alternate between giggle-inducing and achingly real.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love.” takes place in a dream world, where awkward moments are manageable, no problem can’t be fixed and everyone gets together at the end. In this case, dreams provide a healthy dose of escapist fantasy that is essential to combat day-to-day life. Plus Ryan Gosling doffs his shirt. This alone deems “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” a worthy rental.

Blu-ray extras include featurettes with Gosling, Stone and Carell.

Film: 4 Yaps
Extras: 4 Yaps

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Crazy, Stupid, Love. Thu, 28 Jul 2011 04:01:28 +0000 Nick Rogers Continue reading ]]>

Frustratingly uneven and at times embarrassingly bad, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” is a prime example of how several strong scenes and performances do not a good movie make.

Steve Carell gives his best performance since “Little Miss Sunshine,” Ryan Gosling displays who’d-have-thunk-it wisenheimer skills and Emma Stone blossoms further into a big star … for what? Schvantz jokes, radically implausible plot twists and a chintzy narrative that plays like a slamming-door farce spin on “American Beauty”?

For all its many problems, “I Love You, Phillip Morris” — the previous film from directorial team Glenn Ficarra and John Requa — offered a more honest, convincing portrayal of how love elevates us while exploiting our human foibles.

Perhaps the duo, who also wrote “Morris,” misplaced trust in writer Dan Fogelman — the scribe of two “Cars” movies making his first foray into live action since, uh, well, “Fred Claus.”

Fogelman certainly believes his stories are dovetailing. They feel like they’re in a tailspin. Contrived comedy trumps almost every affecting character moment that this cast works hard, and impressively, to produce.

Take Carell’s Cal, a middle-aged schlub who has let early mistakes errantly guide him into a life of caution and cluelessness and comes out broken because of it. Carell lifts “Crazy” on his back during four terrific monologues — defenses-down soliloquies in which Cal shoots tearfully straight about heartache. The rest of Fogelman’s script flat out refuses to let his relatable warmth, and flaws, carry this film anywhere unique.

The film opens on Cal and his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) at dinner. Instead of dessert, she orders a divorce. Unable to let Cal’s shell-shocked silence stand, Emily cops to infidelity with a co-worker named David Lindhagen. (Get used to that name. You’ll hear it 300 times before Kevin Bacon shows up to play him.)

Disclosing the news right away, Cal doesn’t pussyfoot around with their 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) or their 17-year-old babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). To Jessica, who harbors an unknown crush on Cal, this is like Cupid drawing back his bow. To Robbie, who confuses confessed masturbatory fantasies about Jessica with a romantic gesture, it’s a challenge to take one back for love.

It’s a good setup — suggesting perhaps a more sobering version of “Love, Actually” with fewer grand gestures — until subsequent scenes set the deafest tone possible.

When Cal’s co-workers hear him crying and think it’s cancer, they’re overjoyed to learn it’s divorce … to the point at which they clap for him. You could argue that similarly exaggerated emasculation occurred in “Jerry Maguire.” There, however, it truly reflected the teetering confidence of its title character, not just a screenwriter’s “funny” scenario. Then Cal’s buddy Bernie (John Carroll Lynch) “breaks up” with him at a bar and offers a gift of cologne. You get the picture: This picture doesn’t get it.

It’s at that swanky bar where Cal’s vocal misery draws the ear of Jacob (Gosling) — a trust-fund lothario whose sole skill seems to be panty-dropping. Jacob extends an offer to help Cal “reclaim his manhood” (i.e., get laid), refine his Kohl’s-and-Gap style and become the Miyagi to his Daniel-san in the ways of shithead seduction. Cal still pines for Emily, but embarks on amorous, hollow exploits (including one with Marisa Tomei doing an extremely shrill kewpie-doll routine).

Despite hitting the same note several times, it’s nice to see Gosling cut loose with such brio and play a character who truly believes his is the path to betterment. That is until he’s transfixed by a woman on whom he thought his charms had no effect and he drops his guard.

Hannah (Stone) is a freshly minted lawyer in a milquetoast, go-nowhere relationship who decides to indulge her impulsive interest in a one-night stand. In this scene, Stone and Gosling ignite with immediate intimacy. And the tics and timing of Stone’s awkward, gin-soaked sexual aggression (which gets an unexpected cold shower) persuades us in a snap that Jacob would go gaga for her.

Give Warner Brothers credit for not spoiling where the story goes from there. Bogus as it feels, the preview audience ate up one critical development — even as it played out among the sort of ridiculous, deadening slapstick usually reserved for Madea films.

They also sniffled audibly at its grand finale, and not entirely without merit. Carell truly earns the watering eyes.

The rest of “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” might make you rub your eyes, too. It can be that irritating.

2.5 Yaps

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Graham Greene Fri, 11 Feb 2011 14:30:50 +0000 Zoe Chapman Continue reading ]]> This month, a reimagining of “Brighton Rock” is being released in UK cinemas. Originally a novel written by one of the 20th century’s greatest writers, British novelist and playwright Graham Greene, it is a detective story set in the 1930s that battles with Catholic themes — good vs bad, right and wrong. Director Rowan Joffe moved the setting to Brighton in 1964 at a time when Mods and Rockers roamed the streets causing chaos and mayhem.
Graham Greene was born just after the turn of the century into a large family in Hertfordshire, England. Although an overview of his working life would eventually become associated with his successes in fiction writing, Greene was also a man with a journalistic background. While starting to churn out a number of novels, he worked as a sub editor for The Times and other local papers.
Aside from his literary accomplishments, Greene also had a darker side, which shows through in many of his novels. He was known for his controversial conversion into Catholicism after dating Vivien Dayrell-Browning, also a convert. They eventually married and although Greene had a string of affairs, many with prostitutes, he never divorced or separated from her. He also suffered from bipolar disorder, which affected his writing and personal life. A spell working for MI6 (supervised by a Soviet double agent no less) was used for the basis of many characters and places in his novels.
Most of his novels have been adapted into film, his first success was “Stamboul Train” (1932), a political thriller, which was adapted as the film “The Orient Express” (1934).

“Brighton Rock” (1947, 2011)

Brighton is a very British seaside town where people flock to during the summer holidays. It has a pier with arcades, hotels line the seafront, the pebble beach stretches for miles. Ice creams, fish and chip shops, stripy deck chairs — rival gangs warring in the streets? Greene used it as the backdrop to his underworld thriller “Brighton Rock,” written in 1938. (The title also refers to a traditional seaside confection, a stick of flavored sugar with the name of the seaside town where it was bought stamped around the inner circumference.)
It was first adapted into a stage play starring Richard Attenborough as demonic teenage gangster Pinkie Brown. Through him, Greene explores Catholic morals of good vs. evil, right and wrong. Three years later, it was made into a film in 1947 with Greene co-writing the screenplay with Terence Rattigan and Attenborough reprising his central role. It was considered a highly successful example of British film noir and also part of the national identity when it comes to cinema in the UK.
Rowan Joffe’s re-imagining of Greene’s novel stars Sam Riley as Pinkie and Andrea Riseborough (of “Made in Dagenham” and “Happy-Go-Lucky”) as Rose, Pinkie’s girlfriend. These two relatively new actors are supported by performances from veterans of British cinema. Helen Mirren takes up the role of Ida, who pursues Pinkie throughout the film and attempts to protect Rose from his criminal ways.
She is drawn into the story by a chance meeting with Hale (Sean Harris), who betrayed the leader of the gang Pinkie now controls and is murdered by him shortly afterwards. Andy Serkis plays Colleoni, leader of a rival gang which is larger and more powerful. John Hurt also co-stars.
Joffe’s version has lost a little of its noir edge, perhaps because of its 1960s setting, but it still contains the core elements of a sinister crime thriller. He is a relative newcomer to directing as most of his experience working in film has been writing the screenplay for “The American” (2010) and co-writing “28 Weeks Later” (2007). “Brighton Rock” is his first major release.

“The Third Man” (1949)

Pulp fiction writer Holly Martins is invited to war-ravaged Vienna by a friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles), with an opportunity for work. On arriving, he discovers that Lime was killed in a car accident while crossing the street. After the funeral, Holly is invited to speak at a book-club meeting where he meets Baron Kurtz (Ernst Deutch), who informs him that Lime’s dying wish was that he take care of Martins and Lime’s girlfriend, an actress named Anna (Alida Valli). Upon meeting Anna after a show, Holly becomes suspicious about the circumstances surrounding Lime’s death. Further investigation reveals there was a third man at the scene of the accident and a far more sinister plot lying under its circumstances.
Greene teamed up with well-known British director Carol Reed (who also directed “Oliver!” (1968)) to make three most distinctive films, “The Fallen Idol” (1948), “Our Man in Havana” (1960) and this classic film noir. The period immediately following the end of the second World War was considered British cinema’s “golden age.” Novels by upcoming literary greats like Greene were adapted for the big screen alongside established writers like Shakespeare and Dickens.
Films such as “The Third Man” and “Brighton Rock” are seen as demonstrations of excellent cinematic display. “The Third Man” is an edgy and complex thriller telling the story of moral corruption in Vienna, which has fallen into ruin after the war. It’s no surprise it was voted the best British film of the 20th century by the British Film Institute. Wit and light humor are intermingled with a darker, more sinister plot which together makes a very rich combination.

“The End of the Affair” (1955, 1999)

One of Greene’s explicitly Catholic novels that is loosely based on experiences in his own life. In war-torn London, Sarah Miles (Deborah Kerr) begins an illicit affair with her neighbor, a rising novelist named Maurice Bendrix (Van Johnson). Both characters are modeled on Greene and his mistress at the time, Catharine Walston.
When a bomb hits his apartment Henry nearly dies and Sarah breaks off the affair. Later, his suspicions about the abrupt ending lead him to hire a private detective to investigate her. He discovers that she made a bargain with God that if he survived the bombing then she would end the affair.
After Sarah dies from pneumonia he comes to an understanding about her faith and Bendrix holds some belief in God.
Neil Jordan (‘The Crying Game’ (1992)) takes over as director in the 1999 adaptation, much more passionate and intoxicating than the first. Instead of dying immediately after pleading to God that if he lives she will end it, thus enabling her redemption as in Greene’s novel, the director adds in new events and begins their affair again years later when Sarah’s husband (Stephen Rea) and lover (Ralph Fiennes) accidentally meet. Later, Sarah (Julianne Moore) dies slowly of a terminal illness, with no redemption for her and a betrayal of Greene’s original novel.

“The Quiet American” (1958, 2002)

First co-written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who is also responsible for “All About Eve” (1950) and “Guys & Dolls” (1955), “The Quiet American” was again adapted in Phillip Noyce’s 2002 film — a more successful film with bigger stars taking up the central roles.
Two stories stand side by side — one a love triangle between Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine), a London Times correspondent, CIA operative Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser) and a young and beautiful Vietnamese girl, Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen). The other story is the unveiling of America’s involvement in the Vietnamese war of revolution from French colonial power.
There is a crucial difference between the two men that shapes the events of the film. Fowler’s involvement in the revolution is passive; he is there as an observer only, Pyle’s more direct involvement is working to steer the war toward America’s interests. Another catalyst in the plot is Pyle’s promise to Phuong of stability and marriage, something Fowler cannot provide since he is already in a loveless marriage with a Catholic woman back in London.
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The Kids Are All Right Tue, 16 Nov 2010 05:59:23 +0000 Christopher Lloyd Continue reading ]]>

Here’s a well-drawn movie about two lesbians raising a pair of teenagers, but it’s not a “gay” film.

By that, I mean that the homosexuality of Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) is not the central motif of director/co-writer Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy/drama, “The Kids Are All Right.” It’s a story about a family, a non-traditional one to be sure, but the challenges they face are similar to those experienced by the folks in a Norman Rockwell portrait.

The main dynamic is about how Nic and Jules discover fissures in their relationship, even though they’ve been together 20-odd years and have raised two great kids, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson). The catalyst for this discover is the arrival of Paul (Mark Ruffalo), a leather-jacketed free spirit who provided the anonymous donor sperm for the children.

Joni tracks down Paul, who gets a kick out of the idea of being somebody’s dad. He’s a bohemian type who emotionally is a renter, not a buyer — he just visits in other people’s lives.

Jules finds herself drawn to him, setting up a showdown that threatens to split the entire family apart.

Sneakily smart, “Kids” gently pokes fun at a whole slew of social mores and character flaws. At first, the uptight Nic is the main target, but eventually we learn that none of these people are without blemishes.

Extra features, which are the same for DVD and Blu-ray versions, are decent without impressing.

Three featurette are rather disappointing in their brevity, falling more into the realm of Web-friendly video teasers than true glimpses behind the production.

One is about how Cholodenko came to work with co-writer Stuart Blumberg, which clocks in at just over two minutes. The big takeaway there is that Blumberg himself was a sperm donor back in college.

A making-of doc runs three minutes, and another about casting the film is just over four minutes long.

The real centerpiece is a feature-length commentary track by Cholodenko. It’s moderately insightful, though I’m of the firm opinion that tag-teaming two or more people makes for livelier banter.

Movie: 4.5 Yaps

Extras: 3.5 Yaps

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The Kids Are All Right Fri, 23 Jul 2010 04:14:24 +0000 Christopher Lloyd Continue reading ]]>
“The Kids Are All Right” is a movie about families. In this case, a family with two lesbians, but that’s not what director Lisa Cholodenko’s delightful comedy/drama is about. Rather, it uses the particular circumstances of a clan with two women at the head of the household to explore how people can grow apart, even while they still love each other.

The thing that stands out about Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) is not that they’re gay, but how spectacularly normal they are. They’re middle-aged, been together since their 20s, have a couple of teen kids: Joni (Mia Wasikowska), 18, whip-smart and about to go off to college, and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), 15 and still figuring himself out. That often comes with having a name like Laser.

Nic is a doctor, precise and comfortable with routine, while Jules is a bit of a dreamer and drifter, career-wise. She studied to be an architect, tried a few jobs that didn’t take, took a decade or so off to manage the kids, and is now looking to start a landscaping business.

Nic is used to being in charge at work, and we see how that’s inexorably carried over to home life. Jules isn’t content with just being someone’s housewife, and subtly rebels with little digs about Nic’s (over)fondness for wine and tendency to micro-manage.

Their existence gets turned inside out with the unexpected arrival of Paul (Mark Ruffalo), the anonymous sperm donor who fathered both Joni and Laser. Laser wants to find out who is dad is, but gets Joni to call the lab since he isn’t yet of age.

In a quirk, Joni ends up taking an immediate shine to Paul, while Laser feigns profound indifference. Paul is in his late 30s, rides a motorcycle, and runs a bohemian little restaurant featuring food from his organic farm. Played by Mark Ruffalo in ultra-cool mode, Paul’s the lovable rebel every teen would die to have as their father.

But the integration of Paul into this alternative family isn’t destined to be smooth. Nic takes one look at his scruffy leather jacket and listens to his story about dropping out of college, and decides Paul isn’t the best role model for the kids. Laser could use a father figure, but clearly wants to have Paul jump through a few hoops to audition for the job.

Cholodenko, who co-wrote the screenplay with Stuart Blumberg, veers the tone of the film around wildly but not unintentionally. At first, I got the sense she was having some fun with the lesbian couple’s bourgeois ways and New Age-y talk: “I know I haven’t been my highest self.” “We wonder if he’s the type of person who’s going to help you grow.”

And early on, it sure seems as if Nic is being set up to be the fall guy. Her brittle uptightness and the way she benevolently dominates Jules is meant to be off-putting for the audience. When she goes to Defcon 2 over Paul giving Joni a ride on his motorcycle — with a helmet, slowly — it sets off a full-blown conflict about not letting her girl become her own woman.

But through careful observation, and a crisis that threatens to drive the family apart, the film helps us realize that Paul, while undeniably charismatic with his twinkly pirate smile, isn’t ready for the responsibility of a family suddenly foisted upon him.

Paul thinks he is; he’s so skilled at being a charmer, he even fools himself.

Nic has it nailed when she dubs Paul an interloper: He’s somebody who merely visits in people’s lives — including his own.

Bening and Moore are their usual selves, giving performances with presence and dimension. We don’t for a second question the idea that they’re longtime companions and lovers, people who have built a life together and are shaken by the cracks revealed in the foundation.

“The Kids Are All Right” starts out being a movie about the kids, and slowly pans over so the relationship of their parents becomes the main focus. It’s a finely-drawn, rich examination of love and disaffection, and how they can exist side-by-side.

4.5 Yaps

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A Single Man Tue, 06 Jul 2010 09:49:40 +0000 Christopher Lloyd Continue reading ]]>
Great directors are made, not born. But every now and then someone takes up the chair late in life, and proves a natural.

Tom Ford is one of those.

Nearly 50, he is best known as a fashion designer, for Gucci and then his own line. Before he directed “A Single Man,” Ford was probably best known for a photo shoot on the cover of “Vanity Fair” of a nude Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley. Rachel McAdams was supposed to complete a trio, but got cold feet at dropping trou, and Ford substituted himself (fully clothed) into the picture.

An affinity for design is rarely limited to a single discipline, as Ford shows. He proves an adept novice at filling the cinematic frame with lush details, and photographing stars Colin Firth and Julianne Moore with Golden Age Hollywood glamour — not to mention eliciting some top-notch performances from his cast.

Firth deservingly earned an Oscar nomination for his riveting performance as George, a closeted English professor in early 1960s California. Shattered at the death of Jim (Matthew Goode), his partner of 16 years, George has decided to commit suicide. The film follows him over the course of his last day, at the end of which he intends to blow his brains out.

Julianne Moore plays Charley, a fellow British expatriate and onetime lover, with whom George enjoys a sumptuous last meal. Charley offhandedly dismisses George’s love for Jim as illegitimate, and we sense that the two old friends share affection but not understanding.

George is also tempted by recurring run-ins with a former student, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), who slyly attempts to seduce his teacher. The screenplay, by Ford and David Scearce, is based on the 1964 novel by Christopher Isherwood, one of the first serious literary depictions of homosexuality.

“A Single Man” is a bitter, but delicious cinematic dish.

Extra features are the same for DVD and Blu-ray versions, are modest in scope but hefty in substance.

Ford provides a feature-length commentary track, and there is also a making-of featurette that touches on various aspects of production.

Movie: 4.5 Yaps
Extras: 4 Yaps

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Movies You Aught Not Watch: The Forgotten Wed, 21 Apr 2010 04:03:09 +0000 Nick Rogers Continue reading ]]> Movies You Aught Not Watch is Nick Rogers’ weekly, alphabetical look back at the 52 worst films of 2000-2009.

“The Forgotten”
Rated PG-13

“The Forgotten” was filled with scenes of shattered glass — fitting for a wannabe thriller that fatally injured itself by rolling around in shards of plot.

Julianne Moore is Telly Paretta (her name almost as laughable as the story), a mother still grieving the loss of her 9-year-old son in a plane crash more than a year later.

But Telly is told her son is a construct of her imagination by Dr. Munce (Gary Sinise), who says she has post-traumatic stress disorder from a long-ago miscarriage. Years of memories suggest otherwise, so Telly embarks on a search for the truth.

This 2004 stinker coasts on a chilly mood created by the du-jour disorientation of a handheld camera and mournful violin swells. For a time, it flirts with a potentially interesting notion — commentary on the over-reliance of suggestive psychology.

Ah, but Munce is a seemingly insignificant character played by an actor too recognizable to be insignifcant. Sucking characters into the sky proves a good metaphor for what “The Forgotten” does to the talent of the actors playing them. Plus, paying even haphazard attention to one of the many car crashes offers a big tipoff to the film’s absurdly handled reveal.

Moore continues to fumble for legitimate emotion in indie films while alternatively popping up in soulless studio swill like this, “Laws of Attraction” and “Evolution.” “I need you to forget!” screams the chief evildoer to a cowering Moore in “The Forgotten’s” climax. His advice, quite thankfully, isn’t hard to heed.

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