BDA home movies: Alex Cross, Deadfall, Here Comes the Boom, Hello, I Must Be Going, The Liability, Little White Lies, Paul Williams Still Alive, and To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America

February 19, 2013

Monkey mea culpa: I’m just a little bit behind with these.Though I would point out we’ve now got Karen Martin’s HomeMovies column running each week int he newspaper.

Alex Cross (PG-13, 101) — In which Renaissance dude Tyler Perry slips out of his Madea drag and into a character previously inhabited by Morgan Freeman. And while the movie is pretty bad in the dull way that unambitious police procedurals can be, the truth is Perry is only a minor problem here — if he wasn’t inviting comparison to Mister Gravitas we might even find his slightly out-of-shape homicide detective/psychologist acceptable. But everthing else is either way over the top — Matthew Fox is risible as a pyschopath who calls himself “Picasso” — or thoroughly average. Edward Burns, Jean Reno and John C. McGinley were also compensated for their appearances. Grade: 77

Deadfall (R, 95 minutes) — An excellent cast and an admirable refusal to give in to its audience’s pleas for relief from its blue-gray bleakness aren’t enough to raise Stefan Ruzowitsky’s Deadfall above your run-of-the-mill snowbelt-set nihilistic noir. There’s a lot of aspiration on display here — Ruzowitsky, an Austrian who won a Best Foreign Language Oscar for The Counterfeiters in 2008, has a sense of style and a wry way with the violence that permeates the film. The brutal script, by Zach Dean, feels like a lost Jim Thompson artifact, albeit one in which some of the plot twists announce their implausibility a little too loudly. Trim things back a hair or two — reduce the body count and play down (but don’t lose) some of the more gothic elements and you might have a superb psychological thriller here. Still, Eric Bana’s Alabama accent is unconvincing and arch, and while the teaming of Olivia Wilde and Charlie Hunnam works all right, there’s nothing about their coming together that makes sense. But then, we might forgive that were the movie just a little more crazy. Grade: 82

Paul Williams Still Alive (PG-13, 87 minutes) — Filmmaker Stephen Kessler assumed his idol Paul Williams — the diminutive songwriter who was once a staple on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show — was dead. But Williams is very much alive, albeit not teriffically interested in being the subject of one of those “Where Are They Now?” set pieces. He agrees to sit down for an interview with Kessler, but has little patience for the fan’s inqueries. With that out of the way, a fascinating movie, and an unlikely friendship, commence. Grade: 88

Hello, I Must Be Going (R, 95 minutes) — Todd Louisa is a interesting storyteller whop operates in a mild Mike White kind of mode, and this sweet little movie, which was the opening night film for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, manages to succed largely on the grace of its star, Melanie Lynskey, who plays a recent divorcée who retreats to the suburban Connecticut home of her parents (Blythe Danner and John Rubinstein) and conducts a therapeuticaffair with a 19-year-old actor (Christopher Abbott). Much better than I’ve just made it sound. Grade: 88

Here Comes the Boom (PG,105 minutes) — Say this for Kevin James, he’s game. And Here Comes the Boom is more enjoyable than it sounds. Too bad it sounds so horrible. Mild manner biology teacher Scott (James) decides to raise $48,000 to save the job of his colleage, music teacher Marty (Henry Winkler), by becoming a mixed martial arts fighter. Corny, but there are audiences that will appreciate its lack of snark. Not me though. Grade: 77

The Liability (R,95 minutes) — I’m a big enough Tim Roth fan that for a while I even watched his run-of-the-mill TV drama Lie to Me. He’s in the same modfe here, but better,as Roy, a detail-obsessed hitman in this remarkably dry black comedy that also works as a thriller. All in all a likeable movie that’s smarter than it first appears. Grade:86

Little White Lies (Not rated,150 minutes) — This 2010 French film might be dismissed as a kind of Gallic Big Chill, but let me say our viewing it (over a couple of nights, it’s a long film) was one of the DVD highlights of this admittedly young year. A certain of moviegoer will be deeply interested in this story of a group of middle-age (and nearing-middle age) friends who annually take a monthlong summer holiday together. It’s an incestuous but thoughtful bunch, much like people we know and sometimes love. A great cast, including Jean Dujardin (The Artist),Marion Cotillard, François Cluzet and the wonderful Pascale Arbillot are among the stars. Grade: 87

To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America (Not rated, 85 minutes ) — Its a truism that banks won’t — and really can’t — lend money to the people who really need it, though caught in the undertow of debt and high interest rates. But Muhammad Yunus believes lots can be accomplisshed by providing micro-loans — in the tens and hundreds, instead of tens of thousands, of dollars — to people in genuine need. To qualify for a modest loan, the borrower must have a plan to turn the money into a sustainable business. A popular idea in other parts of the globe, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Africa, the doc makes the case for it gaining purchase in in America as well. Hmm. We’ll see. Grade: 84

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.