AUTHOR | Sam Weisberg

ARCHIVES

NEBRASKA

Today's his lucky day
Bruce Dern and Will Forte
Directed by Alexander Payne

In “Nebraska” Omaha-born director Alexander Payne is right back where he belongs. His last film, “The Descendants,” (REVIEW) aimed to capture the secret turmoil of seemingly-zen Hawaiians—misery in paradise—but it registered more like picture-perfect George Clooney sulking through a picture-perfect vacation. Even at its most poignant, the tropical setting made the pathos feel forced. Here, the ... more >

Prisoners

From the director of "Incendies"
Jake Gyllenhaal and Melanie Laurent
Directed by Denis Villeneuve

“Prisoners” is the most maddening kind of failure: an abrasively portentous thriller that, in spite of its copious flaws, manages to startle the audience a handful of times. Because director Denis Villeneuve regards screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski’s cut-and-dry kidnapping story as an ultra-serious treatise on torture, and because the superb cast (Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Terrence ... more >

ENOUGH SAID

Gandolfini's last picture show
James Gandolfini, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Toni Collette
Directed by Nicole Holofcener

“Enough Said” will be fondly remembered as the late James Gandolfini’s final film, not to mention the one that most accurately depicted his real-life gentle giant nature. But it also marks the first starring/dramatic film role for TV comedy queen Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine, HBO's Veep), who (a few too many face-crinkling tics aside) proves herself capable of carrying ... more >

The Spectacular Now

[Distributed by A24]
Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley
Directed by James Ponsoldt

Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are such a naturally charming on-screen couple that it takes quite awhile to realize the movie they're in, "The Spectacular Now," isn't very good. Directed by James Ponsoldt (who debuted with the far more focused and wrenching "Smashed" last summer) and adapted from a Tim Tharp novel by writers/co-producers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (who also wrote ... more >

I’m So Excited

As irreverently fun as a bathroom foam fight
Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Antonio de la Torre
Directed by Pedro Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar’s “I’m So Excited” received a largely underwhelming response earlier this year in the director’s native Spain, as well as a few cranky complaints here; IndieWire, for instance, called it his worst film. Notably absent are the standard Almodovar themes of a sexual predator preying on the powerless (“Talk to Her,” “The Skin I Live In”), or murderous sexual jealousy playing itself out ... more >

Neil Labute

New York playwright and filmmaker opens up about "Some Girls"

A Neil LaBute play or film isn’t complete, typically, unless one of its central characters turns out to be outlandishly evil (and they weren’t that nice to begin with). Think of Aaron Eckhart as the oily corporate ladder-climber in “In the Company of Men,” who convinces his weaselly co-worker to take revenge on the jilting females of the world by cruelly deceiving a vulnerable deaf woman. Or Jason ... more >

Violet and Daisy

Something nothing really goes as planned
Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel and Danny Trejo
Directed by Geoffrey Fletcher

What is it with cinema’s fixation this year on beautiful teenage girls dressed in ludicrous outfits and packing heat? First Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” gave us scantily-clad femme fatales in gasmasks and bikinis, blowing away a plantation’s worth of drug dealers. And now, in “Violet & Daisy,” the directorial debut of “Precious” writer Geoffrey Fletcher, the opening sequence features two ... more >