Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Amanda Seyfried’

Amanda Seyfried, Shirley MacLaine, AnnJewel Lee Dixon

“THE LAST WORD”  My rating: C+ (Opens March 24 at the Glenwood Arts, Cinemark Palace and AMC Barrywoods)

108 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Any film that sends you out to your car humming The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset”cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Still, an aura of uneasy familiarity clings to “The Last Word,”a dramedy  that plays like a second-class “A Man Called Ove” from a female perspective.

Shirley MacLaine portrays 81-year-old Harriet, a grouchy, judgmental woman who radiates disdain for the lesser mortals around her.

Harriet is, of course,  a variation on the character MacLaine has played so often (“Guarding Tess” and “Bernie,” for starters) that she could do it in her sleep.

Sensitive about both her mortality and her legacy, Harriet pulls strings to have the local newspaper’s obituary writer, Anne (Amanda Seyfried), write her death notice in advance.  She even provides a list of acquaintances Anne should interview.

Problem is, not one of these individuals has anything good to say about Harriet.  According to Anne,  the old lady “puts the bitch in obituary.”

At this point Stuart Ross Fink’s screenplay starts turning squishy.  To restore her image, and so that Anne will have something positive to put in the obit, Harriet becomes mentor to the foul-mouthed Brenda (AnnJewel Lee Dixon), an at-risk African American child who is so precocious and self-possessed that she hardly seems at risk at all.

Harriet also volunteers to work as a deejay at a local community radio station, snowing the station manager (Thomas Sadoski) with her knowledge of obscure ’60s pop and even orchestrating a romance between the fellow and obit-writer Anne.

Late in the proceedings she takes Anne and Brenda on a road trip for a long-delayed reunion with her grown daughter (Anne Heche).

None of this is in the least bit original — though it’s been carefully calculated to squeeze the tear ducts for a bathetic sendoff.

The good news is that MacLaine keeps finding new angles on what long ago became one of her stock characters.

That and the strong supporting cast assembled by director Mark Pellington (Philip Baker Hall, Tom Everett Scott, Gedde Watanabe, Sarah Baker), who find ways to make more of the material than it deserves.

| Robert W. Butler

Read Full Post »

Diane Keaton, John Godoman

Diane Keaton,  farting dog, John Goodman

“LOVE THE COOPERS”  My rating: D+ 

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.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller

Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller

“WHILE WE’RE YOUNG”  My rating: C+

97 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There may have been a time when we aged — if not gracefully — at least appropriately.

But in a society where youth is worshipped and Botox is a household word, how does one come to terms with getting older?

That question is at the heart of “While We’re Young,” writer/director Noah Baumbach’s latest comedy — albeit a dour comedy that could have used a lot more more laughs.

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts star as Josh and Cornelia, 40-something New Yorkers out of sync not just with youth but with their own peers. While their friends are now fully invested in parenthood and career paths, Josh and Cornelia have managed to avoid most of the trappings of middle age.

Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried

Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried

He’s a documentary filmmaker who has spent the last decade futzing around with a project about a grizzled philosopher (Peter Yarrow of folk music fame) that he’ll probably never finish and that nobody will want to see. She’s the producer for her father, a legendary grand old man of documentaries.

They’ve no children, no car, no mortgage.

But their biological clocks are accelerating — he’s got arthritis and she’s conflicted over her inability to have a baby. Mortality is rearing its ugly head.

Enter Jamie and Darby (Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried), a young married couple auditing Josh’s documentary film class at a New York City university. Jamie endears himself to the filmmaker by claiming his life was changed by Josh’s early (and only successful) documentary.

TO READ THE REST OF THIS REVIEW VISIT THE KANSAS CITY STAR‘s WEBSITE AT http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/movies-news-reviews/article17831633.html

Read Full Post »