Blending a perfect brew of classic '80s songs, big laughs and rockin' performances, director Adam Shankman manages to make this film adaptation of the hit Broadway jukebox musical a red hot summer blast for people who grew up with glam metal—or just can't escape it on the radio. With a terrific cast and a standout turn from Tom Cruise as a zoned-out rocker, the hokey storyline about a young girl who arrives in Hollywood to make it in the music industry almost doesn't matter. In his hit movie musical Hairspray, Shankman proved he knows his way around this kind of retro-fun material and Rock of Ages shouldn't disappoint fans of the show or the era's music.Read more
"I always thought he died too young," says director/narrator/protagonist Stephen Kessler at the beginning of Paul Williams: Still Alive. When he was 13, Kessler explains, the man he wanted to grow up to be was the songwriter and TV personality Paul Williams. When he discovered six years ago that his childhood idol was, per the title, still alive, many years sober and touring internationally, he went to a show in Winnipeg and decided to make a documentary about the 71-year-old Williams' life and career. The result is a funny, clever and fascinating first-person doc about a needy director chasing after his wise subject. Too bad the film's obscure star will be a hard sell to non-music geeks or anyone born after 1965, because this film's a blast.Read more
Last month at the Cannes Film Festival, international superstar Jackie Chan announced his retirement from his action movie career. If his 29-year-old son Jaycee, a Hong Kong-based actor and singer, plans to follow his father into the limelight, he'll have to convince the public that he's more than a pretty face with a famous father, and do so in a much better showcase of his talents than Double Trouble, an occasionally amusing but narratively nonsensical buddy cop action-comedy. Tepid reviews and lack of star power (sorry, Jaycee) will likely dampen box office performance.
Chan the Younger plays Jay, a highly trained security guard at a Taiwanese art museum. Two art thieves (Jessica C.
A yuppie mother runs to her long-lost hippy momma when her marriage implodes in a New York minute. Catherine Keener takes her kids—coed Elizabeth Olson and future filmmaker Nat Wolff—from their high-end Manhattan apartment to the forests of Woodstock, where things haven't changed since Hendrix played and mom (Jane Fonda) still deals grass and sculpts mud. Keener is a giant rejection of her semi-reliable spirit mother, and flashes resentment when her kids take to Fonda's flighty ways; they've been estranged to preserve stability, and that only amplifies the keen anthropology of Woodstock which is loaded with full moon dances and the passings around of iffy "teas.Read more
A dissatisfied married woman seeks fulfillment in a neighbor's arms in Take this Waltz, a film set in an idyllic Toronto where real emotion comingles with underlined affectation. Sarah Polley's directorial follow-up to Away From Her similarly concerns the end of an affair, though here the catalyst isn't Alzheimer's but a more general discontent amplified by adulterous opportunity, which for writer Margot (Michelle Williams) comes in the form of rickshaw driver (and closet artist) Daniel (Luke Kirby). Their burgeoning relationship takes place under the nose of Margot's husband Lou (Seth Rogen), a chef working on an all-chicken cookbook.Read more
He's either daring you not to laugh or daring you not to care, but either way, you'll laugh, care and worry about the consequences in Dark Horse, the newest by uggo-auteur Todd Solondz. Superannuated 13-year-old Abe (Jordan Gelber) is huge, inside or out of his hummer, and threatens the employees of the local toy chain when returning his still-in-box action figures. He doesn't completely dismiss his tween-afflictions when he finds and forces a possibly heartless romance on dismal Miranda (Selma Blair), a girl fit for Abe because they're both so wayward. In their frightful union t...Read more
The last decade hasn't suffered from a shortage of Sundance films about quirky 20somethings falling into unlikely love, but Safety Not Guaranteed is, at least in its sci-fi-tinged premise, a more ambitious variant. Magazine intern Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is the usual smart-mouthed, depressed and disaffected young woman, while the surprising object of her slow-growing affection is Kenneth (Mark Duplass), a man who's placed a classified ad seeking a partner for a time travel expedition. The ad the story is based on became a famous Internet meme, and it's not a bad starting point, but the film sadly turns cloying and queasy. Nonetheless, audiences at Sundance ate it up and there's every reason to suppose this will find a modest theatrical audience and lasting cult fanbase.Read more