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 – Brian Percival’s “The Book Thief,” from the hit book by Markus Zusak, is a well-intentioned piece of work that nonetheless fails, sometimes spectacularly, to connect in the ways that its creators intend. Tonally adrift between something clearly aimed at young adults and something much darker and more cynical about the nature of man and the afterlife, the film is only carried at all by the strengths of its talented leads – Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and the remarkable Sophie Nelisse.
CHICAGO – There are some movies that are gut level great because of plot, atmosphere and pacing, and then there are movies like “Tamara Drewe,” which rely on the elusive star power of the performer to drive its engine. Gemma Arterton portrays the title character and lights up the screen with a vivid presence in the simple story of a woman’s homecoming.