Posts Tagged ‘Greg Kinnear’

Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw

“MISBEHAVIOUR” My rating: B- (Available Sept. 25 on Video on Demand)

106 minutes | No MPAA rating

It’s got a killer cast and a stirring inspired-by-headlines story to tell.

Yet Philippa Lowthorpe’s “Misbehaviour” only really kicks in during the closing credits, when through archival photos we get the stories of what happened to its real-life characters “after” the movie ends.

The subject here is the Miss World beauty pageant of 1970, when a staid institution was knocked on its ear by a rising tide of feminism and Third World influences.

Rebecca Frayne’s screenplay begins with Sally Alexander (Keira Knightley), a British mother and graduate student, being sucked into the world of “radical” feminism through her unexpected friendship with Jo Robinson (Jessie Buckley), a gleeful vandal who specializes in spray-paint sloganeering.

Despite her initial misgivings, her traditionalist mother (“Downton Abbey’s” Phyllis Logan) and her own responsibilities as a mom, Sally becomes a convert to the cause.  It helps that she’s had humiliating  run-ins with male-centric academia. Before long the other women are regarding her as a leader.

Sally, Jo and their comrades decide to disrupt the Miss World competition, a London-based event much beloved by the British public.

One of “Misbehaviour’s” many plot threads (“Mis-Behaviour” as in “Miss World”…get it?) centers on the married couple Eric and Julia Morley (Rhys Ifans and Keeley Hawes), operators of the pageant.  He’s a guy who dispassionately analyzes a young woman’s physical attributes like a health inspector examining a side of beef; she’s a bit more attuned to the needs of modern women, but still committed to the family business.

Another plot involves the famous Hollywood  comedian Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear with convincing fake nose and a not-very-convincing impersonation), who is hired as this year’s emcee.  He is accompanied to his country of birth by his wife Dolores (Lesley Manville), who wearily tolerates his rampant philandering.

And then there are the contestants.  1970 was a memorable year for the pageant, and not only because of the feminist shenanigans that turned the live TV broadcast into a chaotic fiasco.


Read Full Post »

Aldis Hodge

“BRIAN BANKS” My rating: B 

99 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

With “Brian Banks” a familiar story is told in unfamiliar fashion.

Tom Shadyak’s drama follows the true-life saga of Brian Banks, a promising football star who at age 16 was accused of rape, plead no contest to avoid a long prison sentence, and nevertheless spent six years behind bars before being released into a parole system which — because he was now a convicted sex offender — was its own sort of hellish imprisonment.

Most movies would approach the subject chronologically. Doug Atchison’s screenplay cleverly starts in the middle with Banks (Aldis Hodge) already on parole. His history, though, means he cannot find anyone willing to employ him.  Just as bad, a new California law requires him and all sex offenders to wear an ankle monitor and remain within their neighborhoods…meaning he must give up  his place on a local college football team.

We cringe to see the humiliations Brian is subjected to. On the bright side are a handful of individuals upon whom he depends, like his ever-faithful mother (Sherri Shepherd), his new girlfriend (Melanie Liburd) and a prison mentor (an uncredited Morgan Freeman, seen only in flashbacks) who saves his life by emphasizing the need for a mental overhaul if you’re going to survive behind bars.

Somewhat less sympathetic is his by-the-rulebook parole officer (Dorian Missick).

And then Brian gets wind of the California Innocence Project, the brainchild of law professor Justin Brooks (Greg Kinnear), who with a staff of unpaid law students seeks to free the unjustly imprisoned.


Read Full Post »

“BRIGSBY BEAR”  My rating: B+

100 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Describing a film as “sweet” is tantamount to giving it the kiss of death (when it comes to movies we’re a sweet-aversive culture), but there’s no other word to describe the oddball beauty of “Brigsby Bear.”

Balancing lightweight comedy, melancholy undercurrents and an ultimately uplifting message, Dave McCary’s feature directing debut (after several shorts and many segments of “Saturday Night Live”) in some ways resembles such innocents-on-the-loose titles as “Being There” and “Edward Scissorhands.”

Our protagonist is James (“SNL’s” Kyle Mooney), who has spent his entire life in a bomb shelter with his parents (Mark Hamill, Jane Adams) after the outside world has turned toxic. At least he thinks they’re his parents.  Shortly after the film begins he learns that he was kidnapped as a newborn and has been raised in isolated secrecy.

Now the puzzled and perplexed James has been “rescued” and returned to the suburban home of his natural parents (Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins) and spunky younger sister Aubrey (Ryan Simpkins). They’re eager to make him welcome (well, maybe not Aubrey so much) but there are plenty of adjustment problems.

James has only known two other humans his entire life, and now he’s told they’re criminals of the worse sort. The existence he knew was a total sham. He knows nothing about contemporary society, about pop culture, about the latest trends in language or social behavior.


Read Full Post »

**** and ****

Michael Barbieri and Theo Taplitz

“LITTLE MEN”  My rating: B

85 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

Suffused with somber wisdom and and delicate emotions, Ira Sachs’  “Little Men” is a terrific movie about boyhood friendship.

It’s also about conflicts in the adult world that can destroy that innocent and easygoing intimacy.

Thirteen-year-old Jake (Theo Taplitz) is initially dismayed when his parents move from glamorous Manhattan to pedestrian Brooklyn and the building long owned by his recently deceased grandfather. Yeah, there’s more room in the rent-free second-floor apartment where Grandpa lived…but it’s Brooklyn.

He undergoes an attitude adjustment after meeting Tony (Michael Barbieri), whose mother Leonor (Paulina Garcia) operates a dress shop on the ground floor.

The kids complement each other nicely.  Jake is quiet and thoughtful; Tony is brash and confidant (and very, very bright).  Moreover, they share a love not only of video games but of the arts.  Jake is a promising painter and Tony has set his goal on becoming an actor.

Over time they set in motion plans to get into an arts-themed high school.

The boys are so tuned in to each other’s emotions and intellects (there’s just the slightest suggestion that Jake might be gay, but the matter is left hanging) that they’re late in realizing the conflicts developing in the adult world around them.

Jake’s parents — his psychoanalyst mother Kathy (Jennifer Ehle) and struggling actor father Brian (Greg Kenner) — discover that Leonor has been paying Grandpa a fraction of what should be the going rent on her storefront shop in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

Leonor maintains that she and the old man were very close (just how close is a matter for speculation) and that he wanted her to have the space more or less in perpetuity.  Furthermore, she maintains she was more of a family to him than his flesh and blood across the East River.


Read Full Post »

Lily Collins, Greg Kinnear

Lily Collins, Greg Kinnear

“STUCK IN LOVE” My rating: B (Opens wide on July 5)

97 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Stuck in Love” isn’t wildly original, but for a writing-directing debut it hits its marks cleanly and effectively, gives a talented cast an exhilarating workout, and leaves its audience convinced that newcomer Josh Boone has great things in his future.

Boone‘s comedy-drama centers on the Borgens, a family of writers living along the Atlantic Coast in New England. And I don’t mean a few blocks from the Coast…I mean in a three-story beach house overlooking the dunes.

The place was purchased with money generated by the first several novels penned by William Borgens (Greg Kinnear). Alas, Bill is now in a slump.  His wife of 20 years, Erica (Jennifer Connelly), left him three years ago for another man, and lately the depressed Bill hasn’t written a word.

For excitement Bill hides in the bushes outside the house where Erica and her new husband live. He’s never happier than when he can eavesdrop on them fighting.

(Kinnear almost seems to be channelling a character he played a few years back in a similar romantic drama, “The Feast of Love.”  He’s good at these roles, but let’s have a bit more diversity, eh?)

Meanwhile Bill has his sexual needs met by a neighbor lady (Kristen Bell) who stops by on her morning run, services him in record time, and delivers unsentimental advice while tugging on her jogging outfit.


Read Full Post »