Posts Tagged ‘Marisa Tomei’

Diane Keaton, John Godoman

Diane Keaton,  farting dog, John Goodman

“LOVE THE COOPERS”  My rating: D+ (Opens wide on Nov. 13)

97 minutes  | MPAA rating: PG-13

In “Love the Coopers” the dysfunctional family holiday movie gets big-name treatment. The results are exceedingly unlovely.

It’s not just that director Jessie Nelson’s Christmas-themed comedy tries to shock us with raunch and cynicism before going all squishy soft in the last reel.  Lots of pretty decent films (“Bad Santa,” “Home for the Holidays,” “The Family Stone”) have assumed the same trajectory.

It’s that Steven Rogers’ screenplay is so blatantly unfeeling, cobbling together standard-issue ideas and characters for a sort of Pavlovian-inspired emotional release.

“Love the Coopers” (the title invokes memories of the inexplicably beloved “Love, Actually,” and like that earlier film gives us several interlocking stories) takes place mostly in a picturesque suburb outside Pittsburgh PA.  Here quaint homes, a steady snowfall and lush woodlands evoke a Norman Rockwell atmosphere.

Emotionally, though, there is no peace in the valley.

For starters, after 40-some years of marriage Sam and Charlotte Cooper (John Goodman, Diane Keaton) are calling it quits. They will break the news to their assembled clan after “one last perfect Christmas.”

Happy holidays, everybody.

Several plots eventually meet around the Coopers’ dinner table.

Daughter Eleanor Cooper (Olivia Wilde) is so reluctant to see the rest of her family  that she settles into the airport bar for some fortification. There she meets Joe (Jake Lacy), a soldier on leave who is charming despite being a Republican.

In an agonizing montage Eleanor and soldier boy engage in a comic ballet on an airport moving sidewalk. It is so gosh-awful “cute” theaters should lay in a supply of insulin.


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John Lithgow, Alfred Molina

John Lithgow, Alfred Molina

“LOVE IS STRANGE” My rating: B (Opening Sept. 26 at the Tivoli and Glenwood at Red Bridge)

94 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Though its two central characters are men in a long-term relationship, it would be a mistake to categorize “Love is Strange” as a “gay” movie.

In fact, Ira Sachs’ melancholy drama is clearly inspired by the 1937 film “Make Way for Tomorrow,” in which an elderly couple run out of money and after a lifetime together must separate to be farmed out to their selfish children in different cities. “Make Way…” tops my list of the most downbeat (though brutally honest) films ever produced by a major studio during Hollywood’s Golden Age.

That Sachs updates the story to a contemporary setting and makes the couple same sex offers an interesting twist, but at its heart “Love is Strange” is less about sexual orientation than about the economics of living in NYC, the brittleness of familial ties, and the difficulties of having several generations living under one roof. (A century ago, of course, multi-generational households were the norm. Today we’re all a bit too self-centered for that.)

We meet Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) on the day of their wedding ceremony. They’ve been together for four decades, and are now taking advantage of recent judicial rulings to make it legal.

Ben is the older by 10 years, a retiree who still dabbles in painting. He’s a bit fussy, the worrier of the pair.  George is the more expansive and upbeat partner.

Staying upbeat, though, is a challenge after George is fired from his longtime job as a music director at a Catholic high school. His sexuality and living situation were never a secret, but by getting married and announcing the news he has violated Church policy. In addition to losing a paycheck, he forfeits health insurance coverage for himself and Ben.


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“THE IDES OF MARCH” My rating: B+ (Opening wide on Oct. 7)

101 minutes | MPAA rating: R

George Clooney, viewed by many as a liberal white knight who really ought to run for office, sends an answer of sorts with “The Ides of March.”

In this political thriller — directed and co-written by Clooney — the charismatic movie star plays a charismatic state governor who has thrown himself into Ohio’s presidential primary in a bid for the Democratic nomination.

Watching Clooney’s Mike Morris gracefully glide through debates, press conferences and stump speeches is a bit weird…it’s like a preview of what a genuine Clooney candidacy would be like. The Morris campaign even has a poster depicting the candidate in the same pop art/street graffiti visual language of that famous Obama image from ’08. Lefties will be swooning.

But this candy apple has a razor blade hidden inside.


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“CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE” My rating: B- (Opens wide on July 29)

118 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13 

“Crazy, Stupid, Love” isn’t just about cheating. It IS  a cheat.

But if you can buy its improbable premise, its jarring and sudden shifts in tone and its desperate desire to be all things to all people, you may find moments of real substance here.

It helps that this romantic comedy from directors Glenn Ficarra and John  Requa (“I Love You Phillip Morris”) features an astonishingly strong cast with several breakout performances.

Suburban husband/dad Cal (Steve Carell) is blindsided when Emily (Julianne Moore), his wife of 24 years, announces she’s been having an affair with a co-worker and wants a divorce.

Sad sack Cal finds himself sitting night after night in a bar bemoaning his fate and watching other people score. An expert in that pursuit is the suave, slick, self-assured Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who goes home every night with a different woman. (more…)

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