Picks and Pans Main: Movies
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Toni Collette, Catherine Keener | PG-13 |
The only good thing about dating in middle age is that you can drop the BS. (There’s no sense in pretense after bald spots and cellulite have already ratted you out.) Far harder, though, is dropping the baggage. That’s the struggle for divorced mom Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) in this smart, funny film: Will she accept a new love or let old doubts kill it before it starts?
The new love is Albert (Gandolfini), a sweet, sexy man who makes Eva laugh. After some awkwardness, the two find an easy rhythm until Eva starts to listen to her new pal Marianne (Keener). Enviably cultured but with a nasty habit of slamming her “loser” ex-husband, Marianne fills Eva with verbal poison, undermining what looks like a good thing.
Enough Said would be braver to have Eva own up to her fears more honestly, but the film makes a solid case for why she doesn’t. Besides, Louis-Dreyfus is so engaging and relatable that it’s easy to forgive her, even if she is in danger of breaking our Albert’s heart.
Oh yes, it’s our Albert, because you’ve never seen the late Gandolfini more charming. His subtlety and vulnerability are like a bear hug, with warmth beaming off the screen. This role will give you new reasons to miss him all the more, thinking about the films he could have made. I’m just thrilled that he left us this one.
Keller Dover (Jackman) doesn’t seem like a cruel man, but when his daughter and her friend go missing on Thanksgiving, something feral roars out of him. He seizes on a suspect early—creepy neighbor Alex Jones (Paul Dano) – venting his rage and frustration in scenes that are positively monstrous. That doesn’t help the detective on the case, Loki (Gyllenhaal), who tries to keep Keller in line while piecing together clues. Prisoners is an intense thriller and a tough watch, both for its violence and its 2½-hour length. But do try to keep up with the myriad plot twists, because the devil is most assuredly in the details.
Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones | R |
The Family flickers between light and dark comedy so fast, it creates a strobe effect. De Niro and Pfeiffer play Fred and Maggie Blake, hiding out in a Norman village from the Mob. They keep busy with barbecues, assaulting villagers and blowing up the grocery store. It’s a funny idea, but few of the jokes land. Bodies do pile up, though, particularly in the wildly violent finale. Bada-bust.
Thanks for Sharing
Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow | R |
With its focus on a sex-addiction support group, Sharing covers the same ground as Shame but with a lighter, clumsier step. Ruffalo stars as Adam, who jumps back into dating after five years’ sobriety. His new girlfriend Phoebe (Paltrow, in a daringly shrill turn) doesn’t make things easy, dismissing sex addiction as fictional. While the film takes Adam seriously, it goes for laughs with group newbie Neil (Josh Gad, who’s way too funny and talented for slapstick). His is actually the more engaging transformation and the best reason to invest in Sharing.
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