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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Spacey’

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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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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“MARGIN CALL” My rating: B+ (Opens wide on Oct. 28)

105 minutes | MPAA rating: R

First-time features don’t get a whole lot more assured than “Margin Call,” an incisive, biting look at the Wall Street mindset and machinations that led to our current economic doldrums.

A bunch of suits standing around talking may not sound all that interesting, but J.C. Chandoor’s writing/directing debut (after several years in advertising and music videos) succeeds both as a personal drama of individuals and as an allegory about what plagues American capitalism in this still-young century.

And he has an ensemble cast to kill for.

Unfolding over 24 hours in a major New York banking/investment firm, this boardroom thriller unfolds like a finely-tuned stage play, with sharp characterizations and killer dialogue. (You may be reminded of Mamet in his prime.)

But if it feels claustrophobic, it’s claustrophobic in just the right way, suggesting a much bigger world where the decisions made overnight in this tower of glass will have devastating repercussions.

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