92 minutes | MPAA rating: PG
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
“THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING” My rating: B (Opens wide on Nov. 26)
123 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13
Even if you’re familiar with the life and work of Stephen Hawking, there’s something humbling about seeing it depicted in a film.
One of the world’s greatest minds trapped in a body that refuses to cooperate. A woman who cares for his every physical and emotional need and bears his children…at least until she cannot any more.
Time. Space. Infinity.
The first thing that should be said about “The Theory of Everything” is that it isn’t actually about Hawking’s cosmological theories of black holes and other scientific conundrums — though they are of course mentioned in passing. It is based on Jane Hawking’s memoir (most recently updated in 2013) and is more a relationship film than anything else.
Fine. We’d rather watch a people story than an illustrated physics lecture. And “Theory” provides the platform for two terrific performances from Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, who must be considered on the short list for this year’s Oscar nominations.
118 minutes | MPAA rating: R
Most of us would like to believe that if faced with a life-threatening crisis we would behave decently, nobly…even heroically.
Uh, probably not. Most of us would be like Tomas, the husband and father whose act of cowardice becomes the topic of Ruben Ostlund’s terse, psychologically ravaging “Force Majeure.”
The Swedish Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) has brought his wife Ebba (Lisa Kongsli) and two young children to posh ski resort in the French Alps. They appear to be an utterly unremarkable young family.
But while eating lunch at an outdoor cafe, they witness a controlled avalanche set off by explosive detonations. The churning wall of white speeds down a mountainside, hits the bottom of a valley, then begins rapidly climbing toward the terrace on which the diners are sitting.
“Doesn’t look controlled to me,” Ebba says.
Result: chaos. People scream, run, freak out. Ebba grabs her two children and hunkers down behind a table. Tomas cuts and runs, returning to his loved ones only when it becomes clear that the snow never came close to the restaurant, that a cloud of white fog only made it appear that everyone was about to be buried alive.
“WHIPLASH” My rating: B+ (Now showing at the Cinemark Palace, Glenwood Arts)
106 minutes | MPAA rating: R
Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) conducts the elite studio jazz band at New York City’s most prestigious conservatory of music. He’s a musician and educator, though you might be forgiven for mistaking him for a Marine drill instructor…or perhaps a serial killer.
Fletcher enters the rehearsal room with the swagger of a gunslinger flinging open swinging saloon doors. His students don’t make eye contact. They gaze at the floor or at their charts. Nobody wants to draw the alpha wolf’s reptilian stare.
But that won’t save them. Fletcher is routinely profane, insulting, and capable of reducing a young musician to sobs. He seems to take great pleasure in finding a victim at every rehearsal.
“Either you’re out of tune and deliberately sabotaging my band, or you don’t know you’re out of tune — and that’s worse.”
He’s smug, cruel and probably sexist, given his treatment of a woman player in a freshman ensemble: “You’re in first chair. Let’s see if it’s just because you’re cute.”
He punishes those who disappoint him not with pushups but with rehearsals that go on into the wee hours: “We will stay here as long as it takes for one of you faggots to play in time.”
“ROSEWATER” My rating: B (Opens wide on Nov. 14)
103 minutes | No MPAA rating
“DUMB AND DUMBER TO” My rating: D+ (Opens wide on Nov. 14)
110 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13
“INTERSTELLAR” My rating: B- (Now playing wide)
169 minutes | Audience rating: PG-13
Did I miss something?
Because while I don’t regret having spent three hours watching Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” I can’t quite shake the feeling that there’s less here than meets the eye.
That maybe the Emperor has no clothes.
The film has an epic scope, great visuals, good performances and a payload of scientific/metaphysical ideas percolating throughout.
And unlike many of Nolan’s efforts (among them the most recent incarnation of Batman, “The Prestige” and “Inception”), it has a backbone of genuine emotion.
But why, when the lights came up, was my reaction more “meh” than “wow”?
The film begins in a not-too-distant future. Earth is rapidly dying. Corn is about the only crop not devastated by blight and massive dust storms.
Former astronaut Cooper (Matthew McConauhey) works a farm in what might be eastern Colorado. A widower, Coop lives with his father-in-law (John Lithgow) and his two kids. He’s got a special relationship with Murph (Mackenzie Foy), a fiercely intelligent girl who reports ghostly goings-on in her room, with books being pulled from the selves by invisible hands.
This activity and other clues lead Coop and Murph to a secret base in the mountains where what’s left of NASA (as far as the public knows the program has been shut down) is working on a project to save humanity.
Coop’s old mentor Professor Brand (Michael Caine…always the voice of reason in Nolan movies) explains that a decade earlier a human crew was sent into space, through a wormhole near Saturn, and into another galaxy to look for Earth-like planets to which humanity might migrate.
That earlier mission is presumed lost. Now a second is being mounted. Coop’s arrival is serendipitous — he was NASA’s best pilot — and he is recruited to head the new effort.
But that means saying goodbye to Murph, who is angry and devastated by what she sees as a betrayal by her beloved father.
This takes up “Interstellar’s” first hour. The rest of the film alternates between the mission in space and the lives of Coop’s family back on Earth.