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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!

09/27/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Movie Interview: Terry Gilliam Shares Thoughts on 'The Zero Theorem'
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Neil Rosen chats with acclaimed director and "Monty Python" veteran Terry Gilliam about his new film, "The Zero Theorem," a Sci-Fi film about a computer genius trying to discover the meaning of life.


09/20/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Movie Review: 'This Is Where I Leave You'
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Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda and Tina Fey team up with a strong ensemble cast in a new film that's one part comedy, one part drama. It's called "This Is Where I Leave You."

Bateman plays Judd Altman, and he's having a bad day. Not only has he received news of his father's passing, but earlier, he discovered that his wife was cheating on him with his boss.

All of Judd's siblings gather at their mom's fancy Westchester home to sit Shiva, the Jewish custom of mourning together for one week.

This family doesn't really get along and the premise of forcing them to spend a week together is one that director Shawn Levy takes good advantage of.

Everyone here carries lots of emotional baggage. Adam Driver is quite funny as the younger brother, an irresponsible stoner who shows up with a much older girlfriend played by Connie Britton.

Corey Stoll is the serious brother, whose wife is played by the always delightful Kathryn Hahn. This couple is having a hard time conceiving and complicating matters is the fact that Bateman and Hahn used to be an item years earlier.

Tina Fey is the sister who stills holds a torch for her old boyfriend, who's now permanently brain damaged due to a car accident.

Then there's Fonda, who's quite amusing as the family matriarch. She's a woman who's prone to embarrassing her children by frequently giving them explicit details about the sex life she shared with her deceased husband.

But it's Bateman who's really the central character here. He reacquaints himself with another old girlfriend played Rose Byrne and his laid back style works nicely.

Some of the supporting characters aren't fully developed, while several storylines seem a bit contrived.

More often than not, however, screenwriter Jonathan Tropper adapts from his novel well and creates situations that draw you in and often make you laugh.

The stellar cast is first rate, elevating whatever weaknesses there are in the material, and the overall result is an endearing, dysfunctional family that you'll enjoying spending a few hours with.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: Three Apples


09/13/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: 'Smiling Through the Apocalypse: Esquire in the '60s'
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A new documentary looks at the glory days of Esquire Magazine during the turbulent 1960s and the man at its helm. It's called "Smiling Through the Apocalypse."

Harold Hayes' tenure as editor at Esquire ran from 1963 to 1973. During that time, he provided a launching pad for some for the most prolific writers of the day. One of those was the late great Nora Ephron.

Many of the remarkably talented people that flourished under Hayes are on hand here. They recall what it was like to work for this man and share captivating stories behind some of the some great articles that they wrote.

Writers such as Frank Rich, Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal and Peter Bogdanovich worked at Esquire under Hayes' tutelage early on in their careers. They all wax poetic about the welcoming environment he created, along with the total creative freedom that he gave them.

On the visual side, there's Candice Bergen, who served as a photo editor, and there's also a look at heralded photographer Diane Arbus, who had her first published works in Esquire.

Then there are all those controversial covers, which are vividly on display here, with their back stories explained throughout the film.

Harold Hayes passed away in 1989, and the film, which was written and directed by his son, Tom Hayes, is quite informative, capturing a unique time period and a bygone era in journalism. The movie also serves as a voyage of discovery for Tom, as he learns what his father was all about and the cultural impact that the brash, irreverent magazine that his dad piloted had on society.

Hayes has been praised by many of his esteemed colleagues and staff as the greatest postwar editor ever, and he's credited with giving birth to a new form of journalism. This labor of love by his son nicely brings his dad's accomplishments and influence to light.

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


09/06/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Movie Review: 'The Two Faces of January'
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Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Issac team up in a new thriller set during the early 1960's in Southern Greece. It's called The Two Faces Of January.

Issac plays a small time scam artist who's living in Greece and working as a tour guide.

Mortensen and Dunst are a wealthy American couple who first meet Issac when they're visiting the famed ruins.

This well mannered couple are not at all what they first appear to be, though. Mortensen is a big time confidence man. So when a private detective catches up with him, demanding the money that was stolen from his clients, a murder takes place.

Looking to get out of the country as quickly as possible, they enlist Issac's help to secure fake passports. Soon all three of them find themselves entangled in this crime and wind up on the run.

The movie is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, who also wrote "The Talented Mr. Ripley" along with "Strangers On A Train," which was the basis for my favorite Hitchcock movie. This film—by first time director Hossein Amini, who also wrote the screenplay—is basically a Hitchcock wannabe.

The film has an old fashioned vibe to it and the cinematography, costumes and production design are spot on, nicely capturing the flavor of the time and place.

Viggo Mortensen is excellent playing a drunk who's spinning out of control, and it's unlike anything I've seen him do before. I was also impressed with Oscar Isaac's 180-degree turn from his fine work in "Inside Llewyn Davis."

Dunst on the other hand, lends little to the proceedings. Plus a romantic subplot between her and Issac's character isn't satisfactorily fleshed out.

The screenplay, which is mildly suspenseful for a while, slows down considerably halfway through and completely falls apart by the end.

Despite it's deficiencies, it's fun for a bit—which is why I'm recommending this for an On Demand rental, where it currently can be found, as opposed to paying full price at the box office.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 2.5 Apples


08/30/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Movie Review: 'The One I Love'
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Elizabeth Moss and Mark Duplass star in a new indy film that combines romance, comedy, drama and science fiction. It's called The One I Love.

Duplass and Moss play Ethan and Sophie, a dysfunctional couple who's marriage is on the rocks. Seeking to put a romantic spark back in their relationship and save things before it's too late, they seek help from a marriage counselor played by Ted Danson.

His recommendation is that they spend a long weekend at a country estate.

Initially, the change of scenery in this idyllic setting seems to be working for these two. But after a bit, both of them start to exhibit some strange behavior.

Things get much weirder, on the level of a Twilight Zone episode. I can't tell you anymore about the plot, though, because it would be considered a spoiler.

The filmmakers have constructed a crazy premise and that's OK with me. As far as I'm concerned, if you're going to go the sci-fi route, I'll buy into any whacked out world that you want, as long as you stick to the rules of the universe that you've created. Twilight Zone episodes and Charlie Kaufman films, for example, almost always do.

At a certain point, though, first time director Charlie McDowell, breaks those roles and this movie stops making any sense at all.

On the positive side, Mark Duplass and Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss give excellent performances, as does Ted Danson in a brief role. The two leads impressively display their acting chops and much of their dialogue was improvised. The Duplass brothers also serve as executive producers here and if you're familiar with their work, their unique style is easily recognized throughout the film.

But ultimately the surreal concept is half-baked and poorly executed, which will take audiences out of the movie all leading to an unsatisfying conclusion.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple rating: Two Apples


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