CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
CHICAGO – David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is an absolute masterpiece, one of the best films of 2011 and one of the best thrillers of the new millennium. After I saw it in December of 2011, there was some question of its quality when compared to the original Stieg Larsson books, the Noomi Rapace-starring foreign version, and even Fincher’s previous work, the amazing “The Social Network.” Ignore all that comparison and just view “Dragon” on its own merits. It’s spectacular.
CHICAGO – Just as it is predicted to do two Sundays from today, “The Artist” dominated the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) today, winning seven different awards. The silent, black-and-white film won Best Film, Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius), and Best Lead Actor (Jean Dujardin), and four other wins.
CHICAGO – The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards premiered tonight, celebrating the best acting performances of the year. The awards are voted on by the members of the Screen Actors Guild, (apparently) making the awards more meaningful to the winners as they were chosen by their peers.
CHICAGO – The 17th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards played out last night, and the big winning films of the night were “The Artist” and “The Help.” Winning Best Picture and Best Director, “The Artist” placed itself into the category of serious contender for this year’s Academy Awards, while “The Help” won Best Actress (Viola Davis), Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer), and Best Ensemble Cast.
CHICAGO – David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” comes with waves of expectations from fans of the Stieg Larsson books, the Swedish original films, the director’s previous beloved works, and even drama over a certain national outlet breaking an agreed-upon embargo.
CHICAGO – Mike Mills’ “Beginners” is a deeply personal piece, a drama about how one man’s choice to end his life in love and happiness impacted his son’s previously-stunted attempts at romance. It’s the kind of story that would make for great fiction but makes for merely average cinema, in no small part due to the fact that so much of the progression of its central character is internal. A stellar supporting turn by living legend Christopher Plummer helps to ground the piece, but the flawed script keeps the overall project from truly graduating.
CHICAGO – “Priest,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, is one of those films which suffers greatly by comparison to the works that clearly inspired it. On the level of character and storytelling, this thing is a derivative mess. You’ll never once give a damn about anything that’s happening, especially when the action slows down and the paper-thin dialogue kicks in. On the other hand, the film is surprisingly stylish and has a visual aesthetic that’s greatly enhanced by Blu-ray. It looks great on the surface. Just don’t examine it too closely.
CHICAGO – When the matriarch of a family dies, the void can create dynamic shifts or imbalance for those left behind. Pair that turmoil with the announcement that a surviving father is gay, and the atmosphere is created for the new film “Beginners.”
CHICAGO – What would be the circumstance if after a mother dies, the father suddenly comes out as a gay? Writer/director Mike Mills had that situation occur, and created the new film “Beginners,” featuring Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor.
CHICAGO – The cure for the Recovering Catholic may be obtained in the new film “Priest.” Both symbolic and kick-ass, Priest has a parallel universe that includes the ubiquitous vampire, but with the bonus of their opponents being highly trained Catholic priests.