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At The Movies

Turn to TWC News every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday for the At the Movies report featuring reports on movies, DVD releases, the hottest websites and more!

11/22/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Movie Interview: Jon Stewart Discusses Directorial Debut in ‘Rosewater’
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Neil Rosen sits down with comedian and writer/director Jon Stewart and journalist Maziar Bahari to chat about Stewart’s directorial debut in “Rosewater.” The new drama is a true story of Bahari, who was held in captivity in Iran in 2009 for close to four months after being falsely accused of being a spy.


11/08/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Movie Review: ‘Interstellar’
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Writer-director Christopher Nolan, who directed the Dark Knight trilogy, checks in with a new big budget outer space adventure "Interstellar." Neil Rosen filed the following review.

Set sometime in the not too distant future, the Earth has run out of resources and humans are about to become extinct. It is up to a group of astronauts, led by Matthew McConaughey, to find a new, inhabitable planet.

There are some interesting, ambitious ideas at work here, but most of them are never fully realized as the movie tries to be too many things at once.

It is a melodramatic family saga, with McConaughey feeling pangs of guilt for leaving his daughter behind in order to save the world. It is a semi-intellectual sci-fi flick, with a not so subtle eco message, and it is a space age action film. Nolan simply spreads himself too thin.

Warm and fuzzy is not Christopher Nolan's forte. As a result, his daughter abandonment storyline is very hokey. Plus, there's an overblown, heavy-handed Hans Zimmer score.

The action sequences fare much better. But the entire movie, at close to three hours, like the outer space voyage these astronauts are on, goes on for what seems to be light years.

McConaughey is cast well as the all-American hero. However, Anne Hathaway gives a wooden performance and Jessica Chastain's talents are wasted.

There are too many long speeches about the space-time continuum. There’s also a ridiculous robot that looks like a refrigerator and a simplistic overriding message - drummed into your head too often - that love will conquer all.

Right from the start, it was too obvious where it would all end up. I have to say that the movie looks stunning, but Nolan borrows heavily from "2001: A Space Odyssey," both conceptually and visually. Overall, it is never quite as smart as it thinks it is.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: Two apples


11/01/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Movie Review: ‘1,000 Times Good Night’
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A new film, “1,000 Times Good Night,” starring Juliette Binoche, looks at a woman who's torn between her very dangerous occupation and her quiet family life.

Binoche plays Rebecca, an acclaimed wartime photographer who constantly puts her life on the line to capture images of atrocities that are going on around the world.

While taking photos of a car bomb that explodes in Kabul, she almost dies. It's a life threatening pattern that her husband and children, back home in Ireland, find it almost impossible to deal with. They cringe every time the phone rings, thinking it may be bad news that Rebecca was killed on the job.

Rebecca is given an ultimatum: that she better give up her dangerous lifestyle and become a more stable wife and mother. She gives it a shot, but she's constantly being pulled back into the firestorm that is her career.

The slow pace of the film often works to good effect as we see the evolution of Binoche's character. How she tries to adjust to domestic life, even though it goes against her very nature. We begin to wonder if her job was really about saving the world through her photos, or if she was just addicted to the thrill of it all.

Norwegian writer director Erik Popper was once a war photographer himself and in some ways the movie is semi-autobiographical.

Binoche turns in a good multi-layered performance, making you care about her travails as she conveys the inner workings of her complex character. The entire supporting cast is also excellent, while the screenplay takes you in unexpected directions.

The film does lag a bit at times, but several harrowing and emotionally-packed scenes due their part to compensate.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: Three apples


10/25/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Movie Review: 'Rudderless'
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William H. Macy makes his directorial debut with a new film that he also co-wrote that stars Billy Crudup. It's called "Rudderless."

Crudup plays Sam, a hotshot ad executive whose entire world falls apart one day when his teenage son Josh dies in a school massacre.

Two years later, Sam has retreated into isolation. He lives alone on a sailboat, paints houses to earn some cash and drinks heavily. One day, his ex-wife, played by Felicity Huffman, gives him a box of music demos that his son made.

Slowly, as he discovers Josh's music, Sam finds a way to connect with his late son. He learns how to play the tunes on the guitar and even shows up at an open mic night to perform one of them.

Sitting in the audience is Quentin, a young man who is blown way by the music. Quentin continually hounds Sam, begging him to form a band. After much prodding, he reluctantly agrees. The group is called Rudderless, and the name is a metaphor for Sam's life.

Through his son's music and his mentoring of a young man, Sam is brought back to life. The band becomes a small-town hit, but Sam, claiming credit for himself, never told anyone who really wrote the songs. However, Josh's former girlfriend, played by Selena Gomez, knows the real story.

William H. Macy does a solid job directing this offbeat material, and the music that we hear throughout the film is really good. The terrific Billy Crudup, who I feel is underutilized in films, turns in a emotional, heartfelt performance, and he anchors the movie. Anton Yelchin, as Quentin, is also first-rate, and Laurence Fishburne is fine in a supporting role.

A late plot twist, which I won't reveal, changes things dramatically, maybe even too much. It alters our perception of everything that came before, and made me question the earlier tone of the film. But overall, it's still a good effort from all involved, and it's certainly worth a look.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: Three apples


10/18/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Movie Review: 'Birdman'
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”Birdman,” a new film starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone, has been getting a lot of buzz at film festivals. The film begins its regular run in theaters this week. Neil Rosen filed the following review.

Michael Keaton plays Riggin Thompson, an actor on the ropes. He used to be a big movie star, playing the title role in a blockbuster, superhero franchise called “Birdman.” But that was years ago. These days his career has hit the skids and he's desperately looking to stage a comeback.

His vehicle to try and get back on top is a serious Broadway play that he's writing, directing and starring in.

Also appearing in this weighty stage production is Edward Norton, playing an arrogant snobby theatre actor who's been called in as a last minute replacement. Naomi Watts plays Norton's lover both on stage and off. Then there's Emma Stone, as Keaton's daughter. She's a fresh out of rehab, theatrical assistant, who's far too cynical for her young age.

It's a backstage story, about the making of a Broadway play and all the craziness that ensues leading up to opening night. There's many pointed cynical stabs at actors, their egos and their insecurities and there's even a nice shot at the Times theatre critic.

Co-written and directed by Alejandro Inarritu, it has both comedic flourishes and surrealistic touches, as the alter ego of “Birdman” periodically shows up to counsel the star.

At times it's overly ambitious. Some scenes are absolutely riveting, others very clever, others disappointingly obvious. But more often than not, it hits, and it's filled with a lot of sharp pointed dialogue. Some scenes may leave audiences baffled, but I think that's the point as everything here is open for interpretation.

Filmed in the Times Square theatre district, with a shaky, swirling handheld camera, it's a fresh and original piece. The joke of course, is that the similarities between Keaton's real life career as Batman and his on screen character here, as Birdman, are more than coincidental. The entire cast is first rate, but Keaton's performance is one to relish and might just put him back on top.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 3 1/2 apples


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