Movie: The Company You Keep

The Company You GateRobert Redford’s The Company You Keep is one of those quiet mystery / thriller types of movies Hollywood should be making more of. What makes it so compelling is the structure of the script and how it untangles the mystery at hand.

The big secret to its formula is this: there is always another, bigger mystery.

When questions are raised in the beginning about the character played by Redford, you think you’re being set up for an entire feature length adventure to find the answer. But when the answer comes twenty minutes or so later, it is not only satisfying to get the answer, but in doing so it raises a slew of other questions that in themselves seem like enough to sustain the remainder of the film. But they, too, are answered in time, and the process continues and repeats. Continue reading

Movie: Blue Jasmine

Blue JasmineWood Allen has been a roll these past few summers. Midnight in Paris was one of the best movies of 2011 (listen to my review here), and last year’s To Rome With Love, while uneven, had several laugh out loud moments. On this basis alone I wanted to see Blue Jasmine, expecting some more quirky Woody Allen comedic charm.

Unfortunately, when it comes to threes, the third time is not a charm, instead illustrating that three’s a crowd. The problem is more than just that Cate Blanchett as Jasmine is unlikable — she is also irredeemable. You don’t want to root for her, for good or bad, and you will find yourself wishing that all the other characters in the movie just kick her out of their lives so it will all be over with and we can all leave the theater. Continue reading

Movie: Now You See Me

Now You See MeThe first rule of magic, according to Now You See Me, is to always be the smartest person in the room. However, the first rule of making a movie about the art of magic should be: make sure all your tricks are actually real magic tricks.

Many tricks depicted in the picture are pulled off courtesy of  special effects — and obviously so — and they could never be pulled off in real life. The reason such realism is so important in a story about deception and the art of magic is simple: credibility. Without credibility you cannot have believability and without believability, you have a really boring movie. Continue reading

Movie: Mud

MudWriter/director Jeff Nichols brings us Mud, about a young teenager, Ellis (Tye Sheridan), who lives on a river in Arkansas with his soon-to-be divorced parents. He is trying to make sense of the world in general — and love in particular.

Ellis has many of the qualities you might expect in a kid his age and in his situation. His parents are trashy and often neglectful, and he occasionally gets into fights and is a rough around the edges. But he is tough and astute. His lack of fear and self-doubt make him a diamond in the rough who we root for to win, even in the face of a universe that seems to have given up on idealistic things like love. Continue reading