Cafe Society

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Café Society  (B).  I know Woody Allen is a skeezy old moral nihilist who married his lover’s adopted daughter.  Still, I have to say I have enjoyed at least some of his recent movies.  (Irrational Man was a pretty glaring exception.)  I caught a private screening of Café Society the other night and enjoyed it pretty well.  (Okay, it just happened that I was the only person in the theater that night.  Still, I felt special.)

Jesse Eisenberg (To Rome With Love) plays “the Woody Allen character.”  His name is Bobby Dorfman, and he’s a young man at loose ends in 1930s New York.  So he moves to L.A. where his uncle Phil (Steve Carell, Crazy, Stupid, Love) is a hotshot agent to all the top movie stars.  Bobby falls in love with Phil’s secretary Veronica (Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria), but she’s got a boyfriend.  Meanwhile, back in NYC, Bobby’s older brother Ben (Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris) is making a living as a thug and racketeer.  I can’t say more without committing spoilers, but I thought it was an entertaining picture.  Bobby is less loquacious and neurotic then most of the Woody-esque characters in Allen’s films, which is a nice change of pace.  I’m not sure Kristen Stewart is as pretty and interesting as the movie needs her to be, but I could suspend disbelief well enough.

Sully

Mom Under Cover is back in action!

Sully  (A).

Tom Hanks embodies Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in much the way he became Walt Disney.  Hanks and Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) as co-pilot Skyles are good partners in this movie.  Eastwood does not develop any of the other characters and did not use Laura Linney’s talent–as Sully’s wife, she is seen mostly tearful and on the phone.  Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), as one of the NTSB investigators, is also pretty one dimensional.  The movie tells a story we know and still manages to create drama and deliver a hero.  Be sure to stay for the credits (surely this goes without saying).

Hell or High Water

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Hell or High Water  (B+).  This is the best movie I have seen in a while–a tense little crime drama about a couple of brothers who go on a bank-robbing spree in various desolate west Texas towns.  Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski) chews the scenery and steals the show as the grizzled old Texas Ranger (a few weeks from retirement, naturally) who is on their trail, but his Hispanic partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham, Twilight) has some memorable lines as well.  The bank-robbing brothers are fine too: loose cannon Tanner (Ben Foster, The Messenger) and thoughtful, relatively honorable Toby (Chris Pine, Into the Woods).  What are the brothers really after?  Will the Rangers catch up with them, and what will happen if they do?  It’s rather like Bonnie and Clyde, I suppose, except I liked this movie even better.  Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan also wrote last year’s very good Emily Blunt pic Sicario, so I think he is one to watch.

Equity

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

Equity  (C).  They say that behind every great fortune there is a crime, and if it’s not true in the real world it certainly seems to be true in the movies.  Equity is a taut drama about high finance and base villainy, or at least it aspires to be.  And, for novelty’s sake, it features women in the central roles of: the successful but still driven high financier Naomi (Anna Gunn, TV’s Breaking Bad), her ambitious but underappreciated underling Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas, Backwards), and Samantha, the federal prosecutor who is sniffing around Wall Street for perps to bust (Alysia Reiner, Sideways).  I expected the movie to focus on rampant sexism in the financial industry, but I thought it really downplayed that angle, focusing much more on possible insider trading in connection with a big IPO that Naomi and Erin are trying to midwife.  Anyhoo, I thought it was a pretty generic movie, although James Purefoy, who was so good as a sleazy Mark Antony in HBO’s Rome, generates a little interest.

Don’t Think Twice

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Don’t Think Twice (B-).  Two things drew me to check out this movie about six friends who perform together as an improv comedy troupe—its crazy high Rotten Tomatoes score (99%) and the fact that it co-stars Gillian Jacobs of my beloved TV show Community.  Fact is, the movie is just OK.  Most of the interest is provided by the rivalries, envies, and insecurities of the various members of the group.  Everyone wants to break into a certain TV comedy show (a very thinly disguised Saturday Night Live), but of course not everyone can succeed.  Additional interest is created when the father of a group member has a health crisis.  And, of course, the movie shows how hard improv is. Not a bad way to spend 92 minutes.

Nerve

The Move Snob finally makes it back to the movie house.

Nerve (C-).  A suspense flick about about a bunch of teenagers who get caught up in a dangerous web-based game of truth-or-dare (minus the truth part) is not exactly the kind of movie that would ordinarily catch my eye.  But The Weekly Standard‘s movie reviewer, John Podhoretz, called it a “nifty suspense thriller,” so I thought I’d give it a look before it disappears from the big screen.  I should have looked for something else.  Emma Roberts (Hotel for Dogs) plays Vee, a good girl who gets caught up in the thrill of the game, and Dave Franco (Neighbors) plays the sketchy hunk that the game throws in her path.  It’s kind of like a cross between those classic 1990s flicks The Net and The Game.  It’s never terribly believable (or suspenseful), and the ending is ridiculous.  But if you’re a parent of teenagers or soon-to-be teenagers, it might make you even more nervous about what your kids are doing online.  If you’re not, it’s just a cheesy way to spend 96 minutes of your life.

The Book of Strange New Things (book review)

A book review from The Movie Snob.

The Book of Strange New Things, by Michel Faber (2014).  I don’t remember where I read about this sci-fi novel, but the premise grabbed me—in the near future, a Christian preacher is selected to journey to another planet and preach the faith to the humanoid aliens who live there.  So I eventually found it at Half-Price Books, and I have to say it was a really good read.  I won’t say anymore, but if the premise sounds appealing at all, I urge you to check it out.  Incidentally, it was only after I finished the book that I realized that Faber also wrote the novel Under the Skin, on which the indelibly creepy Scarlett Johansson movie was based.  If I had realized that fact earlier, I might have been scared off from reading The Book of Strange New Things.  Glad I wasn’t!