Posts Tagged ‘John Cho’

Anton Yeltsin

“LOVE, ANTOSHA” My rating: B+

93 minutes | No MPAA rating

I knew who Anton Yeltsin was, of course.  I’d seen the young actor as Chekhov in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” reboots, and in a couple of other movies like Jodie Foster’s “The Beaver.”

And of course I knew he died in 2017 at age 27 in a freak accident, pinned against a metal gate by his rolling automobile.

None of which prepared me for the gut punch that is “Love, Antosha,” a love letter to the late actor signed by his parents, his boyhood friends, and his heavy-hitting acting colleagues.

It seems nobody who knew Yeltsin had anything but love for him. And that emotion comes roiling off the screen.

Garret Price’s documentary opens with home movies from Yeltsin’s childhood. What we see is an impossibly handsome kid with a big performer’s personality that fills the room.

We also get a bit of back story about his parents,  competitive Soviet ice dancers who emigrated to the U.S.A. to get away from growing anti-Semitism in the new Russian Republic.

Here’s something I did not know:  While a teen Anton was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, the devastating lung condition (the average life expectancy of a sufferer is 37 years). He was so full of energy, so good at masking his symptoms and plowing ahead, that many of his show biz colleagues were unaware that he had gone through life essentially under a death sentence.


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John Cho

“SEARCHING” My rating: B 

102 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Most of us spend too much time staring at screens. So why has it taken so long for Hollywood to deliver a feature film that tells its story exclusively through Internet images?

In Aneesh Chaganty’s “Searching” a single father sets out on a desperate quest to find his missing teenage daughter. We never see or hear him — or any of the characters — except via some sort of electronic device …especially a computer monitor or a smart phone.

Initially it would seem that this approach — it’s a kind of variation on the “found footage” gimmick –would be limiting, both narratively and visually.

But that’s not the case. Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian find ingeniously inventive ways of telling their story. Often we’re looking at a computer screen overflowing with various windows between which our eyes flit…at least at those times when the filmmakers don’t employ editing and zooms to focus us on a particular bit of business.

The movie opens with a montage of home videos featuring David Kim (John Cho), his wife and daughter. Through these we see the family in good times and bad — the Missus is eaten away by cancer over years. The heart-grabbing effect is not unlike the brilliant photo album introduction of Pixar’s “Up.”

Post-tragedy, David and daughter Margot (Michelle La) appear to have a more or less normal relationship. We see them exchanging texts and communicating over FaceTime. He’s a concerned parent, but in no way smothering.

Which may be his big mistake.  One night Margot goes to a friend’s house for a late-night study session.  It’s almost 24 hours before David realizes she never came home and is no longer answering her cell phone.

He starts tracking down and calling Margot’s friends. They know nothing (they’re not really friends…more like acquaintances); worse, David begins to realize that his girl had a private life to which he wasn’t privy. For years he’s been giving her $100 a week to pay for her piano studies; now he discovers that she abandoned those classes months ago, but has continued to collect the cash.

The panicked father contacts the cops and Detective Vick (Debra Messing) takes the case. Despite her admonitions that he should leave the investigating to the professionals, David cannot help digging ever deeper into Margot’s digital history. What he finds is starting to look like a parent’s worst nightmare.


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“COLUMBUS” My rating: B 

100 minutes | No MPAA rating

“Columbus” is an art film with all the good and not-so-good that suggests.

This audacious feature debut from Kogonada (the one-named video director who creates special DVD features for many of the Criterion Collection classic film releases) is a visually brilliant experience that sometimes feels as if it’s in no hurry to go anywhere.

It’s been very well acted, but keeps its emotions under wraps.

Set in Columbus, IN, this hard-to-classify effort (not quite drama, certainly not a comedy) centers on Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), a recent high school graduate, a volunteer at the local library and an architecture geek.

She’s in the right town, since Columbus is a virtual showcase of buildings by modernist masters like I.M. Pei, Robert A.M. Stern, Eero Saarinen and Richard Meier. Casey knows these structures inside out; she’s even figured out how to sneak into some of them at night so that she can enjoy her own private reveries.

To the extent that “Columbus” has a plot it involves the arrival of Jin (John Cho), who has traveled from Korea to the States because of a developing family tragedy.

Jin’s father, a famous architectural historian, has suffered a stroke on the eve of a lecture at the local university. Now he’s in a coma and Jin, being the dutiful Korean son, is expected to sit at his bedside until the old man either recovers or succumbs.

Except that Jin and his father have long been estranged. Instead of hanging around the hospital, Jin looks for diversion, and he finds it in Casey, from whom he bums a cigarette and with whom he tours the local architectural hot spots.


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Patrick Wilson, ****

Patrick Wilson, Dianna Agron

“ZIPPER” My rating: B- 

103 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Zipper” is an astonishingly dour thriller with a torn-from-the-headlines premise.

Patrick Wilson stars as Sam Ellis, a federal prosecutor with a squeaky-clean reputation who is contemplating a career in politics.

He’s a white knight in the courtroom and has what appears to be an ideal family life with his charity maven wife Jeannie (Lena Headey) and their young son.

When a comely office intern (Dianna Agron) makes a pass at him, Sam throws on the brakes after one kiss. Arriving home late at night, though, he cruises porn sites. When a case brings to his attention a high-end escort service,  he begins doing “research.”

Next thing you know he’s paying big bucks for a few hours with these smart, beautiful, sexually talented young women.

Sam apparently can’t control himself. Part of him hates what he’s doing; another part is coming up with all sorts of devious ploys to allow him to keep on doing it.

There comes a moment, of course, when the noose of revelation tightens around Sam’s neck (thanks to a sleazy journalist played by Ray Winstone). Are his marriage and career on the chopping block?


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