Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 7:55 am
The opening moments of Francine find Melissa Leo, playing the title role, standing naked, wet and blankly confused in a prison shower. She's on the verge of release after an unspecified crime and an unspecified period of incarceration, and the visual metaphor is an obvious one: a woman in middle age experiencing rebirth, coming into her new world in much the same way she entered at the start.
Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 7:23 pm
Stolen is very different from Pierre Morel's 2008 exploitation megahit Taken: There are six letters in its title, not five. It's set in New Orleans, not Europe. And it stars Nicolas Cage, not Liam Neeson. So any resemblance between these two films about fathers who'll stop at nothing to get their kidnapped offspring back is purely coincidental.
Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 8:08 am
In his first big-screen sitcom, HappyThankYouMorePlease, writer-director-star Josh Radnor emulated Woody Allen. Radnor's second feature, Liberal Arts, is less Allenesque, except for one crucial, and vexing, aspect: It's about an older man's infatuation with a younger woman.
Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 1:12 pm
Overheard after a screening of The Master:
"So I guess this is an unfinished print?"
"Nope. This is the one they're rolling out."
And it's true that there are moments, especially toward the end of its meandering 137 minutes, when The Master feels like a series of brainy but disconnected thoughts about 20th-century America. That's how writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson works, and for those who don't insist on coherence or closure in narrative any more than they do in life, it's part of the thrilling madness of his method.
Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 12:55 pm
Anyone looking for a moral high ground — or any high ground at all — in Arbitrage will be sorely disappointed. And that's only one of the reasons that Nicholas Jarecki's family-and-finances drama, handsomely photographed by Yorick Le Saux, is so appealingly adult.
At a time when filmmakers might be under some pressure to punish the 1 Percent, Jarecki (who also wrote the script) chooses instead to remind us that making and keeping scads of cash is rarely accomplished by the fainthearted or the foolish.
I was packing up my recording equipment after interviewing TV executive Susanne Daniels — for a different story — when she said, casually, "Have you ever noticed how there's never been a really great TV show about college?"
I looked at her. Then I started unpacking my equipment again. She had just offered me a story.
Last year, the broadcast networks didn't do well at all when it came to new series development. We got ABC's clever Once Upon a Time, which was about it for the fall crop, until midseason perked things up with NBC's Smash. Otherwise, a year ago, all the exciting new fall series were on cable, thanks to Showtime's brilliant Homeland and FX's audacious American Horror Story.
Hanna Rosin's pop sociology work The End of Men, based on her cover story in The Atlantic magazine, is a frustrating blend of genuine insight and breezy, unconvincing anecdotalism. She begins with a much-discussed statistic: three-quarters of the 7.5 million jobs lost in our current recession were once held by men.