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Posts Tagged ‘Vera Farmiga’

Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart

“THE FRONT RUNNER” My rating: B-

113 minutes | MPAA rating: R

It is easier to appreciate “The Front Runner” as a pivotal point in our political history than it is to warm up to it as a film.

The subject is Sen. Gary Hart’s 1988 run for the Democratic nomination for President,  the allegations of sexual impropriety that brought him down, and the media’s recognition (however reluctantly) that from here on out a candidate’s private life is fair game for coverage.

It’s been well acted and incisively directed by Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air,” “The Descendents”), yet even as it carefully lays out the parameters of the Hart affair “The Front Runner” seems remote and chilly. Perhaps there are no warm fuzzies in the film because there were no warm fuzzies in the true story.

Hart (Hugh Jackman) was a charismatic liberal with all the right responses. For those who swung left he hit the mark on race, economic disparity, the rapidly evaporating Cold War and other matters.  He might very well have made a great President, one who, according to an admirer, could “untangle the bullshit of politics so anyone can understand.”

Problem is, Hart was far easier to appreciate as a policy wonk than as an individual.  His marriage to Lee (Vera Farmiga) seemed solid — children, rustic home in the Colorado Rockies — but Hart bristled at any attempts to plum the depths of their relationship.  He insisted that the reporters covering him stick to the issues; his life behind the public image was off limits.

He wasn’t even on board with the usual photo ops, complaining that he was caught smiling “like some game show host.”

The screenplay by Reitman, Jay Carson and Matt Bai (on whose book it was based) runs on two parallel tracks.

There’s the insider workings of the Hart campaign, with an emphasis on tough-as-nails manager Bill Dixon (J.K. Simmons) and a host of young volunteers who see in Hart a politician who reflects their generational concerns.

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Christopher Plummer, Vera Farminga

“BOUNDARIES” My rating: C+ 

104 minutes | MPAA rating: R

A harried mom, an eccentric child, and a scurrillous grandpa go on a road trip.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

One could argue that “Boundaries,” Shana Feste’s peripatetic comedy, has most everything it needs — save for originality. Despite an exceedingly strong cast there’s an aura of been-there-done-that hanging over the enterprise.

We meet Seattle mom and party planner Laura Jaconi (Vera Farming) at her weekly visit to the shrink.  She’s smart enough to recognize the forces that make her life a comedy of errors, but not smart enough to overcome them.

There are two sources for Laura’s predicament. First there’s her son Henry (Lewis McDougall), a geeky middle schooler who compensates for his outsider status  by drawing nude portraits (from his imagination) of the people in his life. Henry is miserable at his public school and Laura wants to send him to a private operation… but that will take a lot of money.

Then there’s her octogenarian father, Jack (Christopher Plummer), who is being thrown out of his retirement community for secretly operating a marijuana growing business on the premises.

Basically Laura is saddled with two adolescents.

Arrangements are made to move Jack to the Los Angeles home of his youngest daughter, JoJo (Kristen Schaal). But the old man insists that they travel by car.  Laura reluctantly agrees, unaware that the old coot has filled the trunk with weed.  This will be his last delivery run to his long-time customers.

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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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Vera Farmiga in "Higher Ground"

“HIGHER GROUND” My rating: B- (Opens Oct. 14 at the Tivoli and Glenwood at Red Bridge)

109 minutes | Audience rating: R

The loss of religious faith is a challenging, hot-button topic for a filmmaker’s directing debut.

So much could go wrong.

“Higher Ground,” from actress Vera Farmiga, doesn’t go wrong, exactly, but it never really adds up.

Working from a screenplay by Carolyn S. Briggs (adapting her memoir This Dark World), the film chronicles the gradual falling away from Christianity of Corinne (Farmiga), a young wife and mother.

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