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 – There’s a reason why the terms “Christian” and “filmmaker” don’t seem to go together. Pictures that push religious agendas tend to sacrifice complex plots and characters in favor of amplifying its message. These films fail not only as entertainment but as quality storytelling. Whenever an aspiring artist attempts to speak for a group rather than oneself, it’s almost always a recipe for tediously preachy dreck.
CHICAGO – Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” is a beloved book that spent 43 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and sold over 1.5 million copies. I haven’t read it. But I have to believe that it worked on its fans in a way that Steve Taylor’s film simply cannot. This is clearly a personal story, one that touched people by relating to issues they’ve grappled with in their own lives. By taking Taylor’s memories and turning them into cinema, the ability to touch has been removed another degree of separation and the resulting film is a misstep, the kind of work that thinks it’s saying something important but feels more pretentious than precious.