Directed by Drake Doremus. Starring Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence. 90 mins.
In cinemas January 27
A BEAUTIFULLY ACTED AND WONDERFULLY ORGANIC PORTRAIT OF THE INTENSITY OF YOUNG LOVE
Last year’s Blue Valentine charted the depressing journey of two people who fall out of love with each other. Though slighter, Like Crazy may be an even sadder tale. For this wonderfully poignant, nuanced tale merely sees never see love worn down by the basic mechanics of a relationship conducted over too many miles, between two people much too young.
Following the budding love affair between English rose Anna (Felicity Jones) and L.A. student Jacob (Anton Yelchin), Like Crazy was reportedly inspired by director Drake Doremus’ real-life experience, and the film indeed evokes a beautiful feeling of cherished memory. Organically scripted and acted; short cuts, montages, intimate close-ups and direct-to-camera acting invite the audience to experience the story as through the characters’ recollections, allowing us to see them through each other’s eyes.
Directed by Jason Reitman. Starring Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser. 94 mins.
In cinemas February 3
CHARLIZE THERON PROVES BEAUTIFUL WOMEN CAN BE UGLY PEOPLE IN JASON REITMAN’S DARK, UNCOMFROTABLE CHARACTER STUDY
Hollywood was built by selling us happily-ever-afters that can’t even be bought in real-life. Boy gets girl, prostitutes become princesses and the bully always apologizes. But that’s not Jason Reitman’s style. In this uncomfortable, downbeat and dark feature that’s littered with life lessons never learned, Young Adult visits a theme Reitman explored in both Up in the Air and Juno – characters who’ve committed themselves to one distinct identity, and cling onto it like a life-raft when their self-preserving bubble begins to crack.
Mavis Gary(Charlize Theron) is a depressing but very human combination of beauty, insecurity, arrogance, loneliness, entitlement, a drinking problem – and above all, self-protecting delusion. When her marriage fails, this fame-obsessed ghost writer returns home, expecting her humble “hick” town to throw a welcoming parade, and her highschool boyfriend to throw himself at her. Instead, she finds that everyone has moved on – the town has shopping malls and a KenTacoHut, and her old beau has a wife and new baby.
Directed by Alexander Payne. Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Judy Greer, Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard. 115 mins.
In cinemas January 27
GEORGE CLOONEY IMPRESSES IN ALEXANDER PAYNE’S INTERESTING, BUT FLAWED, DRAMEDY
It’s like my mother always told me about men: “keep expectations low, so you won’t be disappointed.” (I’m lying, she never said that. Though I wish she had.) The winner of two Golden Globes and critics’ hearts the world over, Alexander Payne’s dramedy The Descendants proves frustrating not because it’s a bad film, but because it’s flawed one labelled as perfection.
An unfeasibly long voice-over introduces Matt King (George Clooney), a lawyer and trustee under pressure to sell his family’s paradisiacal Hawaiian land to a tourist developer. He’s also facing a personal crisis – an accident has left his wife Elizabeth comatose, and he must struggle not only to become the full-time Dad he never was to his two daughters (including the fantastically mouthy and mature teenager Shailene Woodley) but to also emotionally navigate the revelation that Elizabeth was having an affair.
Directed by Roman Polanski. Starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz. 79 mins
Rating: Three and a half/Five
In cinemas February 3
POLANSKI’S ADAPTATION OF BROADWAY PLAY FILM IS A BITINGLY FUNNY, BRILLIANTLY ACTED COMEDY OF NO MANNERS
It’s perhaps unsurprising that the first film fugitive Roman Polanski has made since narrowly escaping an extradition order is based around the themes of confinement, hypocrisy and liberal agenda. Based on Yasmina Reza’s hugely successful play, Carnage sees “touchy-feely” liberal couple the Longstreets (Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly), invite corporate cynics the Cowans (Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz) to their home to discuss a violent incident between their sons. Shot in real time, the film charts just how quickly the veneer of etiquette can crack, quickly becoming a bitter, scathing and razor sharp comedy of no manners.
Though it was Foster and Winslet who scooped Golden Globe nominations for their roles as a smug, highly-strung do-gooder and a polished but neglected wife respectively, it’s Waltz who really shines. A blunt pharmaceutical rep with questionable morals, he openly admits that his son is “a maniac” and that he feels that the meeting is largely pointless. His constant answering of phonecalls during the meeting is repeatedly singled out as evidence of rudeness, but as Foster’s sermonizing transforms into drunken sobbing, Winslet becomes an attacking, vomiting wreck and Reilly’s happy-go-lucky cloak falls to reveal an emasculated misogynist, it quickly becomes clear that it’s constant repression, not occasional rudeness, that makes Neanderthals of us all.
Directed by David Gordon Green. Starring Jonah Hill, Sam Rockwell, Max Records, Ari Graynor, Landry Bender. 81 mins.
In cinemas now
HILL REVERTS BACK TO HIS DEFAULT OBNOXIOUS MODE IN THIS OFFENSIVELY UNFUNNY “COMEDY”
It’s nice to know that this time of year, not every actor and filmmaker is succumbing to the pressure to make films that are Oscar-baiting dramas, or tear-jerking love tales, or epic biopics, or even any good! Yes, Jonah Hill comes through for us yet again, lowering the bar so that Rob Schneider doesn’t have to.
Made after Hill’s stellar turn in Moneyball, it seems the dizzying heights of a career best left the actor with a desire to return to the deep ravines of sub-par/standard/human ”comedy.” An unfathomably horrible semi-remake of 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting, Hill plays Noah, a charmless, pervy slacker who’s roped into babysitting his neighbour’s kids: the sexually confused neurotic Slater (Where The Wild Things Are’s Max Records), 8 year old Kardashian wannabe Blythe, and their adopted pyromaniac brother Rodrigo. One invitation for sex, one stop-off at a drug dealer’s and one oh-so-hilarious misunderstanding later and our young squire finds himself and his three young wards on the bad side of local drug dealer Sam Rockwell. (I don’t know why either, I’m guessing he had a large tax bill.)