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Posts Tagged ‘Jon Hamm’

Jon Hamm

“NOSTALGIA” My rating: C-

114 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Nostalgia” is a points-in-heaven movie.

Basically it’s a little art film (well, it wants to be art, anyway) that has attracted an astounding cast of recognizable actors (Ellen Burstyn, Bruce Dern, Beth Grant, Jon Hamm, Catherine Keener, James le Gros, Nick Offerman, John Ortiz, Amber Tamblyn) who are working for little or no pay to be part of a noncommercial effort that they hope will have something to say.

Call it movie star penance. These actors are trying to rack up some points in heaven.

Let’s hope they do, because “Nostalgia” isn’t going to make a ding in either the box office or critical circles.

Written and directed by Mark Pellington (“Arlington Road,” “The Mothman Prophecies,” “The Last Word”), “Nostalgia” offers an interesting premise.  It’s about how humans connect with objects and how giving up or losing those possessions can result in both trauma and a positive re-examination of one’s life.

Plotted less as one contiguous story than as a series of interconnected shorts, the film begins with an insurance investigator (Ortiz) checking out the home of an old man (Dern) who is preparing to sell  everything to finance his last years.

Exactly what the insurance guy does is a bit vague. He says he’s there to see if there are items in the house worth bringing in an appraiser…but on whose behalf we don’t know.  Maybe an evaluation of home’s contents has been requested by the old man’s granddaughter and heir (Tamblyn).

Anyway, the insurance guy’s real job — narratively speaking — is to be a sounding board for other characters. (If “Nostalgia” were given to metaphysical musings, you might view the character as a sympathetic angel.)

His next “customer” is a widow (Burstyn) whose home has just burned to the ground.  She’s lost everything except her late husband’s most cherished possession, a baseball signed by Ted Williams.  Eventually the old lady will travel to Las Vegas and a sports memorabilia shop where the copacetic owner (Hamm) buys the baseball for mucho dinero.

Then we follow the sports memorabilia guy to his home town, where he joins his sister (Keener) in clearing out their late parents’ home. This reunion is marred by a family tragedy. (more…)

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Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Elza Gonzalez, Jon Hamm

“BABY DRIVER”  My rating: B 

113 minutes  | MPAA rating: R

At a time when hipness has been reduced to emojis and man buns, filmmaker Edgar Wright dishes the real deal with the uber-stylish “Baby Driver,” a crime caper that melds “Drive”-style action and “American Graffiti” musicality.

The results are both familiar and fresh.

The hero of Wright’s funky tough-guy fantasy is Baby (“The Fault in Our Stars’” Ansel Elgort), a kid (he’s maybe 19) who, as the film begins, has two loves: driving and music.

Baby is an expert wheelman employed by Doc (Kevin Spacey), a shadowy crime king specializing in impossible heists. A few years back the youthful Baby stole and wrecked Doc’s car, and now he’s paying off the debt as a getaway driver.

He’s really, really good, as demonstrated by the hair-raising robbery and chase that opens the film.

Baby is also a world-class music freak who is rarely seen without earbuds firmly in place. Other people walk down the street; Baby bops, propelled by the beats in his head.

Not since John Travolta’s Tony Manero sashayed through Brooklyn to the strains of “Stayin’ Alive” has mortal man turned mere perambulation into such a display of awesomeness.

In fact, Baby keeps a small arsenal of MP3 players in his pockets, each filled with a specific kind of music depending upon his mood and the task at hand. He’s got playlists for cruising, for chilling, for getting pumped up and for settling down.

As a result “Baby Driver” has more great across-the-spectrum pop music than any movie since George Lucas’ “American Graffiti,” the film that back in 1973 convinced Hollywood that you don’t need a composer and original score if you can tell your story with familiar radio hits. (more…)

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Edwina and Patsy

Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley as Edina and Patsy

“ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE” My Rating: C-

90 minutes | MPAA rating:  R

Making “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” must have been a blast.

Think about it: A reunion of old coworkers and their beloved characters, awesome scenery in the south of France, and a never-ending stream of famous-face  cameos — Rebel Wilson, Jon Hamm, Joan Collins, Chris Colfer, Lily Cole, Jerry Hall, Lulu (yes, the “To Sir With Love” singer), Graham Norton, Gwendoline Christie, Perez Hilton, Stella McCarthy and more skinny supermodels than the brain can process — that turns the movie into a celebrity version of Where’s Waldo.

If only some of the fun had ended up on the screen.

Fans of the old “Ab-Fab” TV show will be bitterly disappointed. Newcomers will wonder why anybody bothered.

It’s enough to make you look back fondly on the “Sex and the City” movies.

The long-running ’90s Brit sitcom featured Jennifer Saunders (who scripted the series and this movie) as Edina Monsoon, a  hoplessly inept p.r. maven to London’s fashion industry, and and Joanna Lumley as her running buddy Patsy Stone, an aging former model who can rarely think past where her next alcohol/pharmaceutical fix is coming from.

It was a savage comedy about a couple of reprehensible people.

Eddie and Patsy are still reprehensible, but the charm has worn very, very thin.

(more…)

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Robin Wright

Robin Wright

“THE CONGRESS” My rating: B- (Opening Sept. 5 at the Alamo Drafthouse)

122 minutes | No MPAA rating

Masterful and maddening, spectacularly original and hugely frustrating, Ari Folman’s “The Congress” is unlike any other film I can name.  Though it dabbles with elements explored by fantasy epics like “The Matrix,” it has its own distinct personality.

Some of us are going to love it. Some will be irritated by it.  And some — like me — will experience both emotions.

Folman’s film (he was the creator of “Waltz With Bashir,” the brilliant animated effort about PTS among former Israeli soldiers) opens on the aging but still-beautiful face of actress Robin Wright.

Wright is playing herself here — or rather an alternative universe version of herself — and she’s reduced to tears as her long-time agent (Harvey Keitel) tells her that at age 44 her acting career is all but kaput.

She’s made too many bad choices in men, movies, and friends, he says. She’s thrown up too many obstacles about the kind of work she’ll do (no science fiction, no porn, no Holocaust movies) and she has earned a rep for not showing up on the set. Yes, yes, usually it’s because she has to deal with yet another emergency involving her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is slowly going both blind and deaf. But that excuse has gotten old.

A meeting with a bullish exec (Danny Huston) at Miramount Pictures provides a last-ditch solution.

The movie biz has been so changed by digital technology, the desk jockey explains, that  actors are obsolete. Most stars have allowed their faces, bodies, voices and emotions to be scanned into a computer where they can be reanimated by skilled CG artists.

The avatar actors thus created can be made younger or older, fatter or thinner. They’re never late. They make no demands or complaints. They never throw tantrums — unless the script calls for it.

“I need Buttercup from ‘The Princess Bride’,” the exec says. “I don’t need you.”

(more…)

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