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Another Happy Day

Plenty of bang for your buck: come one come all
Ellen Barkin, Ezra Miller and Kate Bosworth
Directed by Sam Levinson

How complicated is the back story for Another Happy Day, you ask? So complicated that the first five minutes of the movie consist of one character filming an “interview” of another character about it, for no apparent reason (beyond lack of a better way to clarify it to an audience). And I'm still not sure I followed it all. But I'll give summarizing it a shot... Middle-aged, high-strung ... more >

Win-Win

So it's not the film of the decade--so what?
Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor and Bobby Cannavale
Directed by Tom McCarthy

After the affably quirky "Station Agent" and the quietly heartbreaking "The Visitor," writer-director (and, outside his own movies, actor) Thomas McCarthy takes a mildly disappointing step backward with "Win Win," a conventional family dramedy that can best be described as cuddly. Paul Giamatti, doing his quite familiar lovable curmudgeon shtick, plays a struggling small-town lawyer and ... more >

Atlas Shrugged

Finally a screen adaptation of the eponymous book
Taylor Schilling, Paul Johansson and Michael O'Keefe
Directed by Paul Johansson

Much to my surprise, the matinee at which I saw “Atlas Shrugged, Part I” drew a pretty sizable crowd, considering that it was a beautiful day and life is short. The intended audience for this film is apparently larger than I thought, and I'll confess that I suspect I'm not among it. I have not read the arboricidal tome on which it is based, nor anything else by Ayn Rand. Beyond that, there's ... more >

Arthur

Eighties favorite finally gets a reboot
Russell Brand, Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner
Directed by Jason Winer

Everyone knows that 1981’s "Arthur" had three performances that could not be beat, that of Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli, and John Gielgud. So why try? This new Russell Brand version falls short in comparison to its predecessor, but even if it wasn’t a remake, it would still be a pretty tame film. Unfortunately by romantic comedy standards, that still means it's better than most that have come out ... more >

FESTBEAT-Meek’s Cutoff

At the New York Film Festival

Meek’s Cutoff defies easy description but if you can imagine an adaptation of the video game “Oregon Trail” being directed by Terence Malick you’ll be in the ballpark. It’s a beautifully-shot but languidly-paced, thinly-plotted Western that is light on character, even lighter on dialogue (there’s practically none for the first ten minutes), and heavy on atmosphere. You can probably already tell ... more >

Last Letters from Monte Rosa

The gruesome task of humanizing the villain
Daniel Asher and C.J. Barkus
Directed by Ari Taub

Filmmaker Ari Taub's Last Letters from Monte Rosa is about as low impact a war movie as they come, a roughly eighty minute-long drama that eschews the you-are-there intensity of Saving Private Ryan or Das Boot (the latter clearly a thematic influence) for the more relaxed, episodic feel of Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One. Like Boot and Letters from Iwo Jima, Letters takes on the formidable ... more >