Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Wilson’

Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson

Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson

“BIG STONE GAP” My rating: C

103 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Much star power has been brought to bear on “Big Stone Gap,” writer/director Adriana Trigiani’s adaptation of her best-selling series of semiautobiographical books set in her childhood home of Big Stone Gap, W. Va.

So why isn’t this film any better?

Perhaps for fans of Trigiani (The Shoemaker’s Wife, the Viola series for young adults) the film will be a welcome opportunity to see on the big screen beloved characters from the printed page.

For this newbie the film was mildly (but only mildly) entertaining and mostly forgettable.

Set in the early 1970s (and actually shot in the real Big Stone Gap), the picture stars Ashley Judd as Ave Maria Mulligan, operator of the local drug store and at age 40 widely considered an old maid.

(One must regard as suspect any movie that promotes Ashley Judd as an old maid.)

Shortly after the film begins Ave’s mother — an Italian immigrant — dies, leaving behind a letter revealing that Ave is the love child of a romance back in the Old Country. Mom was pregnant upon arrival in the U.S.A. during WWII and wed the first man who showed an interest.

Anyone wanna bet that before this story plays out Ave’s mysterious biological father makes an appearance?

Meanwhile Ave has to deal with the hassles of directing the annual town pageant, an affair that comes off like a bargain-basement version of Branson’s “The Little Shepherd of the Hills.”

And there’s also a visit to the burg by U.S. Senate candidate John Warner and his movie star wife, Elizabeth Taylor.

Ave’s longtime beau is Theodore (John Benjamin Hickey), an aspiring and ego-driven thespian who has never consummated their relationship. Hmmmm. Theodore could have been the inspiration for “Waiting for Guffman.”

Meanwhile Ave is drawn to her childhood friend, the hunky coal miner Jack (Patrick Wilson), who has his hands full with a predatory divorcee (Jane Krakowski).

Other townspeople — all eccentric to one degree or another — are portrayed by Jenna Elfman, Whoopi Goldberg, Anthony LaPaglia, Jasmine Guy, and Judith Ivey.

This is the first feature from Trigiani, a veteran TV producer (“The Cosby Show,” “A Different World”), and while she may be intimate with the material she lacks the directing skill to bring it to life.

“Big Stone Gap” clunks along, making a stab at humor here and a grab at pathos there.  But despite the large and attractive cast, it never gets out of low gear.

| Robert W. Butler

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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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Lili Tqylor...it's behind you!

Lili Taylor … it’s behind you!

“THE CONJURING” My rating: C+ 

112 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“The Conjuring” might have been subtitled “Exorcism’s Greatest Hits.”  When it comes to manifestations of demonic possession, the damn thing is practically encyclopedic.

Levitation. Foul odors. Disgusting vomit. Rotting ghost-corpses. Sleepwalking.  Doors that open and close when nobody’s around. An animated evil doll. Strange noises. Unexplained bruises.

No head-spinning, but there is a Hitchcock-ian bird attack.

It’s all quite silly but surprisingly effective, thanks to the taunt direction of James Wan (creator of the “Saw” series) and a cast of talented pros who keep our doubts at arm’s length.

“The Conjuring” is inspired by the ghostly experiences of husband-and-wife team of Ed and Lorraine Walker, who specialized in paranormal investigations. These real-life ghostbusters did on-site studies of hauntings publicized in the movies like “The Amityville Horror “ and “A Haunting in Connecticut.”


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Charlize Theron...sizing up the competition

“YOUNG ADULT” My rating: B

94 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Young Adult” doesn’t always work. But it takes enough chances to be kind of endearing…sort of like a Christmas package with a bomb inside.

For their sophomore effort director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody — who hit indy film gold a couple of years back with their teen pregnancy laugher “Juno” — deliver another comedy, albeit one from a considerably darker place.


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