Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Theaters: "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry"

There’s a good chance that much of the audience for Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry will know a great deal more about artist/activist Ai Weiwei than this viewer did, and they will certainly find much to latch onto. But there is always something of a question about whether a lack of familiarity with a documentary’s subject is a hindrance, and in this case, the answer couldn’t be clearer: moviegoers unaware of Weiwei will find this up-close portrait of his life and work fascinating, ballsy, and more than a little scary. A big bear of a man with a cool demeanor and a pronounced distaste for authority, he’s a movie star in waiting; I’m amazed it took someone this long to make if official.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In Theaters: "Ruby Sparks"

When Harry (Chris Messina) reads the first section of the new novel by his brother Calvin (Paul Dano), he has one critique. But it’s a big one: he doesn’t believe Ruby, the primary female character. “Quirky, messy women whose problems only make them endearing are not real,” he insists, and the more knowing audience members will smile, because Calvin has written a Manic Pixie Dreamgirl. It’s probably fair to assume that Zoe Kazan, the adorable young actress who plays Ruby (and who wrote this screenplay) has been offered her fair share of MPDs, most of them presumably written by men not unlike Calvin. For a while, Ruby Sparks promises to be less the contribution to the subgenre that its ads suggest, and more a commentary/critique of it. Disappointingly, this angle is teased but mostly dropped, leaving us with a markedly less interesting gimmick rom-com about a writer who creates the girls of his dreams, and must contend with her.