Posts Tagged ‘J.D. Salinger’

Nicholas Hoult as author J.D. Salinger

“REBEL IN THE RYE” My rating: B- 

106 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

“Rebel in the Rye,” the new biopic about reclusive author J.D. Salinger, isn’t bad.

Nor is it particularly inspired.

As an overview of Salinger’s early life, his years of frustration and his emergence as a major American voice with Catcher in the Rye, it lays out the facts competently. Director Danny Strong, making his feature debut after a stint with TV’s “Empire,” puts on a decent show with a limited budget.

And former Brit child actor (“About a Boy”) Nicholas Hoult demonstrates  acting chops that could carry him into more leading man roles.

Strong’s screenplay begins with the PTSD-suffering author in a mental institution in the late 1940s, then flashes back a decade to his college years.

At Columbia Jerry Salinger falls under the influence of writing professor Whit Burnett (Kevin Spacey), who sees terrific potential in his student despite the kid’s self-indulgence and an unwillingness to take suggestions from anyone. At the same time  Jerry launches a romance with Oona O’Neill (Zoey Deutch), estranged daughter of acclaimed playwright Eugene O’Neill (and future wife of Charlie Chaplin).


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Craig Roberts in "Submarine"

“SUBMARINE” My rating: C+  (Now at the Glenwood at Red Bridge)

97 minutes | MPAA rating: R

JD Salinger never allowed a movie to be made of his classic novel The Catcher in the Rye, and I now think I know why.

It’s because his adolescent protagonist Holden Caulfield — so funny, entertaining and idiosyncratic on the written page — would be borderline intolerable in the flesh-and-blood world of film.

I base this on my reaction to “Submarine,” an adaptation of Joe Dunthorne’s novel about a Welsh teenager in the ‘80s. Dunthorne’s Oliver Tate is self-absorbed, judgmental and maddening in all the ways a young person can be, but while he’s fun to encounter on the written page, in the darkness of the movie house he’s an infuriating and irritating wad of mopey misery.

As played by young Craig Roberts, Oliver isn’t much fun to be around, despite the cinema tricks thrown at him by director Richard Ayoade.

For example, early on our furtively angry hero imagines what it would be like if he were to die. He envisions — and we witness — TV news reports of the mass outpouring of grief, of candle-bearing classmates, of spontaneous shrines to his memory that spring up on street corners, of platitudinous eulogies.  (more…)

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