Before I write anything else about 'Don Jon's Addiction': yes, there are some guys in Northern New Jersey who really do act this way. Some of the particulars are exaggerated, but not really. Whether the interior life of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's protagonist gym rat, club denizen, muscle car driver is accurate is something I'll never know, and considering the emotional dysfunction on display, I think I'm okay with it.
Total commitment. That's what separates a bulls--- artist from a real one. Andrew Bujalski's strange, surreal and extremely low budget comedy 'Computer Chess' doesn't have all that much in terms of story or strong character arcs, but it more than makes up for this in narrative and production chutzpah. This tale about a cheap hotel conference of early 1980s computer programmers is like a bizarro version of a Christopher Guest film, loaded with deadpan humor and odd tangents. If you can get on its wavelength (and that takes a little work) you may find yourself a champion of this small gem of a picture.
'Mud' is a great story, but not a particularly great film.
Dripping in regional specificity and broad metaphor, Jeff Nichols' new film feels more like a big, fat American novel you get assigned in 10th grade than the follow-up to 'Take Shelter.' That earlier film's ominous tone and psychological portraiture is traded-in for large, gestural story beats that itch to be broken down and discussed for their symbolic meaning. When you are done explaining just what Boo Radley represented, then you can sink your teeth into Joe Don Baker's character "King."
Who is May? She's a half-American, half-Palestinian Christian, born and raised in Amman, Jordan and living as an author in New York City. That's a lot of labels, so you can somewhat understand why she's having trouble figuring out what she wants in life.
Much like 'Training Day,' 'LUV' begins with two men in uniform on a journey investigating the line between criminal activity and personal responsibility. In 'LUV,' however, the uniform is not that of a police officer, but a clean business suit worn in contrast to the street clothes of Baltimore's thugs. Also: one of the men is actually still a boy, an impressionable pre-adolescent who lives with his grandmother while his mother is “away.” Sharing the breakfast table is Uncle Victor (Common), recently returned from prison and looking to make a change to his life.
There are 8.2 million people living in New York City. Combine the population of Slovenia, Macedonia, Lithuania and you still aren't anywhere near what we've got. More importantly, why would you do that? New York is the capital of the world for at least a few more decades before China takes over. As such, those of us who live here can be excused for thinking that the power machinations in our city take on all the gravitas of Shakespeare or, as Chance Kelly (one of cinema's up and coming "that guy"s) in 'Broken City' calls it, an Italian opera.
The "Creepy Kid" movie is officially a genre. From 'Village of the Damned' to 'The Bad Seed' to shots of Danny Torrence spaced out and making noises from the back of his throat in 'The Shining,' there's something that cuts from the screen directly to whichever gland releases that “flight” endorphin in your brain. While the marketing material makes it seem as if 'Mama' is going to be a Creepy Kid movie for the ages, it falls upon me to report that, sadly, this is not the case. This is, at root, another "Kid in Peril" flick, and while that has a value all its own, it is not quite a vehicle for inexplicable, nightmare-inducing horror.
It is every 16 year-old's rite of passage to sneak into an R-rated slasher, get grossed out by blood, turned on by boobs and shout back at the screen. To that end, 'Texas Chainsaw 3D' is a worthy claimant to the franchise.
I was worried 2012 would end and there wouldn't be a clear winner for the prize of Worst of the Year. 'Parental Guidance' was worth waiting for. It isn't just the worst film of 2012, it's the worst film of 2011 and probably 2013, too. 'Parental Guidance' is a cinematic hemorrhoid throbbing on the screen, its only purpose in life to cause pain and discomfort.