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Posts Tagged ‘Nicholas Hoult’

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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eqmaxresdefault“EQUALS” My rating: B-

101 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

The dystopian future depicted in Drake Doremus’ “Equals” is on one level pretty attractive.

The people are mostly young, well fed and moderately good looking. Everyone wears white clothing and works and lives in uber-modern buildings of glass, plastic and concrete. There appears to be no crime.

Also, no joy. This civilization — formed after a war that left most of the Earth a smoking ruin — views emotion as a sickness or perhaps a crime. Citizens are bombarded with public service announcements alerting them to the symptoms of SOS — “switched-on syndrome” — in which they will begin to be overcome by emotions.

It’s like a being told you have AIDS…as the disease progresses the sufferers will become ever more unstable. Eventually they will be institutionalized and destroyed. Many choose suicide.

Early in “Equals” Silas (Nicholas Hoult) is diagnosed with an early stage of the disease. His coworkers are understanding but cautious…he won’t be required to wear a face mask, but his work station will be set apart from theirs.

He senses that a co-worker, Nia (Kristen Stewart), may also have SOS. Slowly they are drawn to commit the ultimate sin: A love affair.

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mad max fury road“MAD MAX: FURY ROAD” My rating: B

120 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There is dialogue in the new Mad Max film — mostly delivered in a nearly indecipherable variety of Aussie English — but it really isn’t necessary.

You could eliminate all the words or replace them with made-up gibberish and this still would be the same movie, still a symphony of speed and violence, still a textbook example of visual storytelling.

It’s been 30 years since director George Miller wrapped up his Mad Max trilogy and moved on to projects like the family-friendly “Babe” and “Happy Feet.”  But he remains fascinated with Max’s post-armageddon comic-book world, a world filled with great deserts, rusty cars and trucks cannibalized into bizarro war machines, and traversed by that lonely warrior, Mad Max.

This “Max” is bigger, badder and noisier than previous entries. There’s never been much room in the series for human concerns, and this time around there’s even less.

Even the character of Max (Tom Hardy replacing Mel Gibson) is little more than a physical presence.

But as a mind-boggling exercise in pure action “Mad Max: Fury Road” is overwhelming, achieving the sort of visual poetry typically ascribed to “Ben-Hur’s” chariot race or one of Sam Peckinpah’s blood ballets.

Max, a prisoner of the despotic desert king Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the villain Toecutter in the first “Mad Max” back in ’79), finds himself swept along on a mission of vengeance and recovery.

Immortan Joe’s five wives — gorgeous young women apparently free of the diseases afflicting most of surviving mankind — have escaped with the help of Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron, with shaved head and a missing arm), a sort of over-the-road trucker.

Now they’re being pursued across a dusty wasteland (filmed in the sands of Namibia) by the angry husband/king and hundreds of souped up vehicles outfitted with flamethrowers, monstrous crossbows and other jerry-rigged implements of mayhem.

Furiosa’s goal is to find “the green place,” an oasis of water and peace remembered from her childhood. Good luck with that. (more…)

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