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Posts Tagged ‘Rashida Jones’

Peter Sarsgaard

“THE SOUND OF SILENCE” My rating: C+

87 minutes | MPAA rating:

Before it goes off the philosophical rails and disappears up its own nether regions, “The Sound of Silence” casts an eerie spell.

Our protagonist is acoustic specialist Peter Lucian (Peter Sarsgaard), a self-described “house tuner.”

Peter is paid to visit the apartments of his fellow New Yorkers, bringing a suitcase filled with tuning forks and tape recorders.  His job is to study the “sound environment,” identifying and eliminating aural anomalies that may be responsible for sleeplessness, anxiety, and a whole host of psycho-physical modern maladies.

For instance,  he may discover that the musical voice of a client’s heating system creates dissonance when heard in conjunction with the imperceptible sounds emitted by an electric toaster. Time to get a new Sunbeam.

Sounds like woo-woo, but Peter has recently been written up in The New Yorker. So there.

Michael Tyburski’s debut film (the screenplay is by Ben Nabors)  is nothing if not out there. In mood and overall story arc it bears more than a little resemblance to “The Conversation,” Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 classic about a sound technician whose specialty is surreptitiously recording conversations under impossible circumstances.

Peter is pretty much obsessed with his  inquiries.  He often walks through Manhattan wearing sound-cancelling earphones; at other times he stands in public places twanging his tuning forks and taking acoustic readings.

He’s studying “harmonic resonance,” all so that he can develop a sort of unified field theory of sound.  His research has already drawn the attention of an industrialist (Bruce Altman) who has big plans to monetize it, but Peter is a purist.  His dream is to have all his findings published in a scholarly journal.  Only then will he consider the commercial applications.

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“OUR IDIOT BROTHER” My rating: C- (Opening wide Aug. 26)

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The only person likely to win any awards for “Our Idiot Brother” is the anonymous editor who cut the trailer. This unsung hero took an aggressively unfunny comedy and so effectively manipulated bits and pieces as to evoke potential ticket buyers’ memories of other, much funnier Paul Rudd films like “I Love You Man.”

But make no mistake, this is bottom-drawer stuff that, by all rights, should have shuffled straight off to home video.

And what makes it even more discombobulating is that “Brother” wastes a slew of good comic actors.

Ned (Rudd) may not be precisely an idiot, but he’s slow enough on the uptake to be in perennial trouble. Also he cannot lie. When a cop in uniform asks him for some weed, Ned takes pity on the poor flatfoot and sells him some. Result: Prison.

Newly out, Ned is passed back and forth among his three sisters. His childlike pechant for honesty gets him in one scrape after another.

Sister Liz (Emily Mortimer) doesn’t appreciate it when Ned reveals that her filmmaker husband (Steve Coogan in typical supercilious mode) is having an affair with the ballerina who is the subject of his latest documentary.

Sister Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), a magazine journalist, tries to use a source’s off-the-record comments in her latest piece. Ned calls her on it.

And Sister Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), in a relationship with another woman (Rashida Jones), doesn’t appreciate Ned letting it slip that she’s pregnant by an artist friend.

The best that can be said for this film from director Jesse Peretz and writers David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz is that the hirsute Rudd (he looks like a very happy Jesus) exudes a sweetness that helps make up (though not nearly enough) for the script’s lack of cleverness and wit.

I mean, didn’t anybody read the screenplay?

| Robert W. Butler


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