Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Theaters: "Nowhere Boy"

The story of John Lennon’s formative years has been told so many times—both in documentaries (Imagine: John Lennon, The Beatles Anthology, The Compleat Beatles) and fictionalized docudramas (Backbeat, The Hours and Times, The Birth of the Beatles), to say nothing of countless written biographies—that there’s some question as to what exactly director Sam Tayler-Wood hopes to add to the mythology with his new film Nowhere Boy. But he finds a fresh take on the material, primarily by focusing on the sticky three-way dynamic between Lennon and the two women who raised him—and how those relationships made him the man he became.

In Theaters: "Tamara Drewe"

Stephen Frears is a tough guy to pin down. His filmography is somewhat all over the place—he’s done costume drama (Dangerous Liasons), film noir (The Grifters), comedy (The Snapper), political drama (The Queen), rom-com (High Fidelity), and films that absolutely defy categorization (Dirty Pretty Things). He doesn’t have an aggressive style or identifiable brand, with the exception of the fact that most of the films he makes are very, very good. Alas, he’s a bit off his game with his new picture Tamara Drewe, a good-natured and breezy movie that shambles around likeably for a while, but ultimately doesn’t manage to go much of anywhere.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On DVD: "Get Him to the Greek"

We throw around the phrase “party like a rock star” so casually, it’s a little surprising that so few films have gone to the trouble of illustrating the notion. Nicholas Stoller’s Get Him to the Greek does such a thorough job, I can’t imagine anyone else will take a crack at it anytime soon. A “spinoff” (God, that always sounds so unwieldy) of Stoller’s 2008 comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Greek takes the supporting character of womanizing rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) and places him center stage.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In Theaters: "Robert Jay Lifton: Nazi Doctors"

Robert Jay Lifton would seem an ideal candidate for a documentary; the American psychiatrist and author, a proponent of the techniques of “psychohistory,” wrote a comprehensive study of Nazi doctors, in which interviewed 80 survivors of Auschwitz and 40 perpetrators of crimes there (most of them doctors). We’ll probably never know how good a documentary could have been made from his story, because the film that we have on him, Robert Jay Lifton: Nazi Doctors, isn’t much of a film at all.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Watch This: "True Grit" Trailer

If you'd like to see what you can do in 2.5 minutes to make a movie my most anticipated event of the fall, take a look at the full trailer to the Coen Brothers' remake of True Grit.

I wet my pants a little while watching this. TMI?

In Theaters: "The Social Network"

David Fincher’s The Social Network is a business procedural played with the intensity of a thriller and the ingenuity of a screwball comedy. It marks a bit of a departure for the filmmaker, whose pictures tend to lean towards darker themes and visual pyrotechnics; here, handling a chatty screenplay by Aaron Sorkin that consists primarily of people in rooms talking, he curbs his occasional excesses and cooks up his most satisfying film to date. Though mining (with some significant departures from the official record) the origin story of Facebook, a presumably of-the-moment phenomenon, Fincher and Sorkin have somehow made a movie that is about more than its ostensible subject. It is a tale of burgeoning corporate intrigue, yes, but that’s window dressing; it examines, at least implicitly, the cultural moment that precipitates the explosion of a site which aims specifically to make the social experience a virtual construct, but that’s spice. Where the film strikes oil is in its understanding of the kind of guy who would want to create that experience.