If you were to name the director best suited to capture the musicality and authenticity of Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer Neil Young, thoughts would not immediately turn to the man responsible for The Silence of the Lambs. Yet Jonathan Demme has directed three terrific Neil Young concert films, each one presenting the singer's recent and vintage works in differing visual contexts. In Neil Young Journeys, the third and most stripped down of the lot, Young hops into a 1956 Crown Victoria and drives from his hometown of Omemee, Ontario to Toronto's Massey Hall where he performs a solo concert in support of his 2010 collection of feedback confessionals, Le Noise.Read more
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is the sort of silly, self-contained nonsense that should go straight to home video, a film that seems too ludicrous to be made by a big studio and put in front of millions of movie-going eyeballs. But all the same, here comes Timur Bekmambetov's cinematic reimagining of the 16th President of the United States' secret (read: fake) back story, complete with the director's trademark flash, style, and adoration of slow-motion. The plot is, of course, totally obvious: What if Abraham Lincoln was also a vampire hunter? Though it tries to wedge some history amongst the insanity, it's absolutely mindless moviemaking.Read more
Filling a welcome void in adult-oriented movies, People Like Us lives up to its title as a welcome diversion from all the comic book, superhero, testosterone-driven flicks that have filled summer 2012. This beautifully acted, humane and riveting film follows a troubled young salesman whose late father leaves him $150,000—to give to the sister he never knew he had. Whether the wide release can withstand withering competition from higher profile flicks will be a real test of the grown-up audience's desire to see movies about people like them but this film stands out as one of the year's best. Good word of mouth could give this slow-starter counter-programming a chance at sleeper success.Read more
Cinema has long been fascinated with Armageddon, but with technology advancing ever forward, many movies about the end of the Earth overlook true human emotion in favor of big explosions, big gestures, and big box office. However, here writer and director Lorene Scafaria uses our doom as simply the backdrop for a charmingly lo-fi love story in her wordily-titled Seeking a Friend for the End of the World in which she instead focuses squarely on the burgeoning relationship between mismatched maybe-lovers Dodge (Steve Carell) and Penny (Keira Knightley). Despite the film's grim-sounding subject, its star wattage and good humor should appeal to the sort of passionate and mixed audience that get motivated to check out a buzzed-about independent release.Read more
Following the outsized success of Midnight In Paris, Woody Allen presents another tale of mystical comic romance set in a postcard vision of a European city. Lacking a central conceit as cohesive as his last travelogue comedy, To Rome With Love feels unfinished —a problem it partly addresses but can't recover from. Box office between these titles will replicate what tourist bureaus already know: Rome won't be as popular as Paris.
Woody Allen's dogged insistence he produce a film a year makes it hard to anticipate what he'll be pulling out next or how much care he'll give it.
It was only a matter of time before Pixar released a feature centered around a woman. First they just had to make movies about a crotchety old man, a clownfish, a one-eyed monster, a rat with a penchant for cuisine, a decidedly male robot obsessed with Hello Dolly!, a cowboy with a pull-string (three of those), and someone trying so hard to overcompensate that they actually are a Porsche. But now all of that is out of the way, Pixar's 13th film gives us Princess Merida, a vivacious lass with deadly accuracy; she's a wicked archer beneath an explosion of wild red curls.Read more
After his recent forays into softer comedy, Adam Sandler reclaims his whimsically raunchy roots in That's My Boy, playing the estranged father of Andy Samberg—as likely an heir to the comedian's audience as anyone—for a flick as heartfelt as it is mindless. But is that audience ready to give Sandler a second shot after November's Jack and Jill didn't even make back its production cost? His return to R-rated territory is a variable risk. It could give him a big hit—but it could also prove it might be time for this papa to think about retirement.
Sandler is a source of endless fascination and frustration.