Tag Archive: catherine keener

Dir. David Schwimmer
(2011, R, 106 min)

There’s no reason Trust shouldn’t work. It stars Clive Owen and Catherine Keener in strong performances as Will and Lynn, parents whose fourteen-year-old daughter, Annie, is seduced online by an adult predator and subsequently raped. Annie is played by Liana Liberato in a committed, psychologically complex turn. The film’s problem is that it doesn’t follow suit. In approaching a difficult subject, it stays mostly on the surface, letting melodramatic outbursts, realizations, and reconciliations stand in for a more thorough consideration of its themes. It has the elements in place to delve deeper, but it holds back … Read the rest of my review at Culturazzi.

Catherine Keener and Liev Schreiber, in 'Walking and Talking'

Dir. Nicole Holofcener
(1996, R, 85 min)
★ ★ ★ ½

I love, love, love Nicole Holofcener. She’s such a natural, assured filmmaker, on a short list of my favorite directors currently working. Having seen the last three of her four feature films — most recently this year’s superb Please Give — I decided to seek out her first: 1996’s Walking and Talking, which is very much of a piece with her three subsequent films, and that’s alright by me. She generates compassion and develops clear but complex characters and relationships with effortless grace.

Continue reading

Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, and John C. Reilly, in 'Cyrus'

Dir. Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass
(2010, R, 92 min)
★ ★ ★ ½

Isn’t it refreshing when a romantic comedy is about the people in it? The plot of Cyrus is one that could easily have been made crass by a mainstream Hollywood production: A sad-sack divorcé finds love with a beautiful woman only to contend with her disapproving adult son. Come to think of it, a similar plot was already made crass by a mainstream Hollywood production: Step Brothers, about the blending of two families by marriage. Both films star John C. Reilly, with the important difference that the previous film was interested in violence and pointless vulgarity, while this one is interested in its characters, who have conversations instead of plot complications.

Continue reading

Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet, in 'Please Give'

Dir. Nicole Holofcener
(2010, R, 90 min)
★ ★ ★ ★

I wish I could write the way Nicole Holofcener writes. I wish I could write the way she directs too. It’s sometimes difficult to articulate the feelings and motivations of her characters in Please Give — they contain layers of often contradictory emotions — but they elicit our immediate empathy. There is a scene, and others like it, where two sisters sit together on a couch watching television and one lays her head on the other’s shoulder; without a word of dialogue, we feel their longing, regret, and self-doubt … Read the rest of my review at Culturazzi.org.

Max Records, in 'Where the Wild Things Are'

Dir. Spike Jonze
(2009, PG, 100 min)
★ ★ ★ ★

Director Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s children’s book Where the Wild Things Are is subdued and beautiful, intelligent about the emotions of a boy from a broken home but clear and direct in expressing them. It features sublime cinematography by Lance Acord and production design by K.K. Barrett, who create a visual landscape that eschews the usual candy-colored aesthetic of kids’ movies in favor of a dreamier, more sophisticated palette of sand and amber tones. My memory of the Sendak classic is limited, so I can only discuss whether the film does justice to itself. It does. It’s made by mature filmmakers who value mood over sensory stimulation … Read the rest of my review at Culturazzi.org.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Samantha Morton, in 'Synecdoche, New York'

Dir. Charlie Kaufman
(R) ★ ½

“Synecdoche” is defined by Merriam-Webster thusly: “a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole (as fifty sail for fifty ships), the whole for a part (as society for high society), the species for the genus (as cutthroat for assassin), the genus for the species (as a creature for a man), or the name of the material for the thing made (as boards for stage).” I quote it in full because I don’t think I could boil it down. It’s one of the most confusing definitions I’ve ever read. The dictionary entry needs its own reference guide. Or maybe it’s just been too long since high school English.

Continue reading