Love and Mercy – one and a half stars
So Brian Wilson, the musician, is a genius? And the Beach Boys?? This minor biopic, produced by Mr. Wilson himself, makes them sound terribly important, using two completely different-looking actors – Paul Dano and John Cusack – to portray the troubled Wilson’s early and later years. Genius? Like Mozart, Picasso or Einstein?? Give us a break!
While We’re Young – one star
It’s Ben Stiller again, the single-expression boy-wonder! By Noah Baumbach, this déjà-vu tale about a fortyish couple becoming involved with a younger couple is a bland attempt to imitate a Woody Allen-esque situation. Sorry, it’s simply ho-hum…
The Fantastic Four – one star
Can’t we strike against popcorn garbage?! Awful dialogue, a Morgan Freeman wannabe, insipid storyline and mediocre action make for a MISS IT!
Ted 2 – no stars
And this one is the final insult!! Dull, depraved vulgarity knows no limits here. With this film, Seth MacFarlane is again on a mission to corrupt and dumb down America’s youth. After his unfunny, cringe-worthy A Million Ways to Die in the West, only a sex-obsessed Teddy Bear could do worse. Cheap smut sells… and Hollywood rewards these predators. Enough of these filth-based “comedies” targeting adolescents! Yes, I’m angry!
Now for some unmissable films…
Une seconde mère (Que Horas Ela Volta?) **** (vo Portuguese)
Great films come out of South America, including this simple, heartfelt tale from Brazil about a loyal housemaid whose daughter comes to visit after many years. The young girl creates a gentle havoc which upsets the pecking order of the household. Anna Muylaert directs this very personal yet social story with a sure hand.
Mad Max – Fury Road ****
Not for delicate souls, but within its genre this is outrageously brilliant. George Miller brings back the hallucinatory future with a vengeance, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat with its wild pace, unforgettable characters and amazing vistas. Zowie!!
This exceptional, touching documentary by Asif Kapadia shows the sweetness and immense singing talent of Amy Winehouse, who died tragically of drug abuse at age 27. Rare clips of her childhood with friends, family, her rising career and concerts show her weaknesses and her short-lived talent, often abused by those closest to her.
Comme un avion ***1/2 (vo French)
A good French comedy can be a delight – like this quirky little tale by Bruno Podalydes about a man obsessed with kayaking. His gentle adventures through the French countryside and its canals make for a lovely, amusing summer reverie. The sequences with Pierre Arditi are precious! You'll come away feeling light as a glider…
Far From The Madding Crowd ***
Ok, how does it compare to the glorious Julie Christie original? Not as great, though Danish director Thomas Vinterberg has made a grand romantic saga out of Thomas Hardy’s classic, despite one serious glitch which I will let you discover on your own. The charismatic Belgian Matthias Schoenaerts and a touching Michael Sheen are excellent.
The Little Prince ***
Not easy to recreate the charm, delicacy and wisdom of Saint-Exupery’s original, but this latest animated version makes a double-pronged attempt at melding a modern-day story with the one about the little fellow from another planet, and it succeeds. As with the book, I was deeply moved.
Star *** (vo Russian)
By the Armenian/Russian Anna Melikian, this is a revealing study of modern-day Russia through intersecting characters from different classes. The main character is a waif-like girl whose only goal is to be a famous star. Another is her admirer, the unassuming son of an oligarch, while the third is the spoiled mistress of the oligarch. A clever, satisfying panorama.
The title may sound silly, but this is an ingenious film on all levels. There’s the gentle, flawed hero played sweetly by Paul Rudd, his hilarious buddies (Michael Pen is a hoot!), gorgeous Evangeline Lilly, and the ever-improving Michael Douglas as a brilliant scientist. Plus the father/daughter tenderness and the fun, innovative action. Marvel comics is back – enjoy it with or without the kids!
Woman in Gold (La femme au tableau) ***
The true story of an Austrian/American woman who, with the help of a young lawyer, makes it her mission to recover from the Austrian government the famous Gustav Klimt painting which had belonged to her Jewish family before WWII. Helen Mirren plays the woman with humor and panache.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars