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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Kline’

“DEAN” My rating: C+ 

94 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

You don’t have to look far to determine the pedigree of “Dean,” the new film written, directed by and starring standup comic/actor Dimitri Martin.

Think Zach Braff’s “Garden State” (bumbling millennial angst set to a folky alt-rock beat) and Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” (bittersweet romance, plus a New Yorker’s exile to sunny/shallow California.)

It’s all quite whimsical, as are the child-like cartoons drawn by the title character (the cartoons, actually done by Martin, are the film’s single strongest element).

Dean (Martin) is bummed out. For one thing, he’s broken up with his fiancé. Worse, his beloved mother recently died and he’s having a hard time coping.

When his father (Kevin Kline) starts making noises about selling the family’s Brooklyn home, Dean freaks out.  It’s not just the loss of his childhood abode…it’s irrefutable proof that Mom’s really gone.

He tries to outrun his grief with a business trip to L.A., where some smarmy slackers at an ad agency want to use his cartoons in a  cologne campaign aimed at teenage boys. The job falls through, but something good comes of it : He meets Nicky (Gillian Jacobs), a young woman so simpatico and fun that he extends his visit just to be around her.

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Dan Stevens (beneath the CGI) and Emma Watson

“BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” My rating: B (Opens wide on Nov. 17)

129 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

Is Disney’s live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” as good as the old-style, hand-drawn 1991 original?

Nope. But it’ll do.

After a slow middle section, the film delivers the emotional goods. And along the way, it establishes Emma Watson, late of the Harry Potter franchise, as a name-above-the-title star.

This remake is the latest in Disney’s recycling of its classic animation library — see last year’s “The Jungle Book” and “Cinderella” the year before. The film, from director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls,” “Chicago”), hits favorite familiar notes while introducing some new (and mildly controversial) elements.

Its strongest component remains Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman’s score from the first film, a collection of hummers that immediately please the ear and quickly take up residence in the head. Small wonder a stage version became a Broadway smash. (I found the the three new tunes written for the film by Menken and the late Tim Rice to be forgettable.)

The story is by now familiar to all. Belle (Watson) is too smart to fit into traditional girly categories, setting off suspicions among her provincial fellow villagers in 18th-century France.

When her father (Kevin Kline) is imprisoned in the enchanted castle of the Beast (Dan Stevens) — a vain and cruel prince working off a curse — Belle trades places with the old man. Over time she wins over the Beast’s staff, domestics who have taken the form of household objects and eventually gains the love of her grumpy host.

Meanwhile the villagers are being stirred up by Gaston (Luke Evans), the preening he-man who wants Belle for himself.

Following the nifty production number “Belle,” which introduces us to our heroine and her circumstances, “Beauty and the Beast” slows to a crawl, only to pick up an hour later when the Belle/Beast relationship starts to assert its romantic pull.

The problem is one of size. The cartoon “Beauty,” nominated for a best picture Oscar, ran for 84 minutes. It was taut and wasted nothing. (more…)

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Kevin Kline, Dakota Fanning, and Susan Sarandon

Kevin Kline, Dakota Fanning, and Susan Sarandon

“THE LAST OF ROBIN HOOD” My rating: B- (Opens Sept. 5 at the Tivoli )

94 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Like it or loathe it, “The Last of Robin Hood” succeeds in taking a red-flag subject — pedophilia — and forcing us to reconsider our intense feelings about this taboo.

The writing/directing team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland get away with this by relating a largely true story involving one of Hollywood’s most charismatic leading men.

Here are the facts:  In the last two years of his life, legendary big-screen swashbuckler Errol Flynn kept as his mistress a girl — a self-described “dancer/singer/actress,” though any one of those labels is debatable — who was only 15 when their relationship began.

Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning) had been kicking around the periphery of Hollywood for years. Most recently she had faked her age to get work as a backup dancer in musicals. That’s where she was spotted by the always-on-the-prowl Flynn (Kevin Kline), who was working on a nearby soundstage.

A practiced bullshitter with a charming line of self-deprecation (told by a fan that he had seen one of Flynn’s movies five times, the actor responds: “How extraordinary — I could barely get through it once”), Flynn wooed and seduced Beverly.

But a strange thing happened. The old alcoholic womanizer fell in love. He called Beverly his “little sprite” and “wood nymph.” He dubbed her “Woodsy.”

Not even the late-arriving revelation of Woodsy’s tender years (she had been passing herself off as 18) could cool the ardor of a man who nearly two decades earlier had endured a humiliating trial for statuatory rape and remains a tantalizing target for any prosecutor looking to make a name.

Curiously, “The Last of Robin Hood” is less about Flynn and Beverly (a pretty but vacuous girl with a largely unformed personality) than it is about Flynn and Beverly’s mother, Florence Aadland (Susan Sarandon).

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“QUEEN TO PLAY”  My rating: B+ 

97 minutes |  No MPAA rating  | French with subtitles.

“Queen to Play” is a devastatingly romantic movie about a woman falling in love.

Not with a man. With the game of chess. And with herself.

Sandrine Bonnaire (“Vagabond,” “M. Hire”) is Helene, a working-class wife and mother. Her husband Ange (Francis Renaud) works construction, while Helene is a maid at a small hotel on their spectacularly beautiful island of Corsica. She also cleans houses.

Early in Caroline Bottaro’s debut feature, (more…)

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