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.
Joe Swanberg had quite a year. In the same summer, he appeared in the horror hit “You’re Next” and saw his most high-profile success in the excellent “Drinking Buddies” with Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, and Anna Kendrick. The year ended with the announcement that his next feature, “Happy Christmas,” starring Kendrick & Lena Dunham, will play in competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
CHICAGO – Not all HBO shows are created equal. While critics have devoted thousands of words to the brilliance of shows like “Boardwalk Empire,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Game of Thrones,” a few other offerings from the most important TV network of the last quarter-century have gone under the radar.
CHICAGO – Gus Van Sant’s “Restless” is an undeniably twee and hipster film that will annoy some viewers about as much as bad performance art, but I found the film’s commitment to a unique tone and world view refreshing as so few directors even know what those words mean. It may not be grounded enough to be emotionally effective, but another strong performance from the stellar Mia Wasikowska and a consistency to its vision make “Restless” worth a look.
CHICAGO – Male prostitute Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane) and his pimp Tanya Skagle (Jane Adams) are back in the second season premiere of “Hung,” a show that improved drastically over its first year (check out our Blu-ray review here) and seems primed for continued growth in its sophomore outing. Shows like “Hung” often fine-tune their characters and themes between the first and second year and this unusual comedy is primed for breakout success.
CHICAGO – HBO’s “Hung” doesn’t quite live up to the incredibly high standards of the best network on television but the sporadic writing on the show and very strong ensemble did produce enough interesting dramatic and comedic moments to warrant a look on the excellent Blu-ray release of the first season, timed to coincide with the premiere of season two on Sunday, June 27th, 2010.
CHICAGO – Pardon the obvious metaphors, but when you name a show “Hung” and feature a motivational speech about the lead character finding “his tool,” it’s damn-near impossible not to fall into the same pattern.