Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

Film Clips 

The Lookout, The Host, The Lives of Others

New Releases

THE LOOKOUT Hollywood is never at a loss for rising stars, but far too many prove to be the products of media saturation or studio backing rather than any discernible talent (James Franco, for starters). But Joseph Gordon-Levitt is shaping up to be the real deal. Television viewers might remember him as the kid on the sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun, but since then, he's been delivering memorable performances in feature films as varied as 10 Things I Hate About You, Mysterious Skin and Brick. He's at his most impressive in The Lookout, which marks the feature directorial debut of screenwriter Scott Frank (Minority Report, Get Shorty). Gordon-Levitt plays Chris Pratt, a former high school hockey star whose life was shattered after a car accident (his fault) killed two friends and disfigured his girlfriend. Now suffering from a faulty memory, Chris works as a janitor at a minimum-security bank and rooms with a blind man named Lewis (affable Jeff Daniels). Frank does such a distinguished job in creating the character of Chris Pratt -- and Gordon-Levitt is so touching in the role -- that it's a shame the movie turns into a typical heist flick that runs rampant with all the expected clichés: the smooth-talking roughneck who can erupt in violence at any moment, the silent henchman, the nice-guy cop who's at the wrong place at the wrong time, etc. Whenever Frank turns his attention toward the robbery, the film goes slack. But as long as he keeps his camera firmly focused on Chris Pratt and his inward journey, he insures that The Lookout is at least worth a peek. **1/2

Current Releases

BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA There's a gentle strain seeping back into today's family films, a development that should be encouraged at every turn. When movies aimed at the smallest fry feature characters belching and breaking wind at regular intervals, it's clear that the tide has turned since the decades of such marvelous and -- I hasten to add -- enduring masterpieces like Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians; even the recent live-action take on Charlotte's Web couldn't resist occasionally pandering to the crusty-snot-nosed kids in the audience. Like the film versions of A Little Princess and The Neverending Story, Bridge to Terabithia wasn't made for them; instead, it's for bright, inquisitive children (and attendant adults) who subscribe to the theory that imagination is one of the most wonderful tools available. Based on Katherine Paterson's award-winning book, this explores the relationship between two outcast middle-schoolers (Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb, both highly appealing) and the adventures they share as they create a magical kingdom in the woods that rest behind their respective houses. If the effects involved in the creation of their imaginary world seem on the thrifty side, that's OK, since the heart of the story rests in the manner in which children are able to cope with loneliness, ostracism and even death. Incidentally, cowriter David Paterson is Katherine's son, which helps explain the film's fidelity to its source material. ***

THE HOST Just as the original 1954 Japanese cut of Godzillawarned against the evils of nuclear proliferation, this Korean import similarly rails against a host of societal ills, including humankind's disregard for nature, the ability of America to force its will on the rest of the globe, the false front provided by governments declaring bogus "terror alerts," and media insensitivity. Yet these themes only simmer in the background, and even the creature feature often takes back seat to a sturdy and even touching comedy-drama about the importance of familial fortitude. The central character is Gang-du (Song Kang-ho), a dim-witted food-stand vendor and unlikely father to bright young Hyun-seo (Ko A-sung). When an enormous mutant emerges from the Han River, munches on a few humans, and then takes Hyun-seo back to his lair, it's up to Gang-du and other family members to rescue the girl, battling military personnel every step of the way. Full of memorable imagery (amusing sight gags easily commingle with more brutal shots) and anchored by the human story at its center, The Hostis only harmed by the varying quality of its special effects. Created by the companies that worked on the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings flicks, the effects are slick to a fault, with seamless visuals compromised by obvious CGI renditions, often within the same scene. Still, given that the movie works best when focusing on the people rather than the predator, that amounts to a minor quibble: This is a monster movie for those who like a little meat on the genre's bones. ***1/2

I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE It's inconceivable that the names Eric Rohmer and Pootie Tang would ever appear in the same sentence, yet that's the result of cowriter-director-star Chris Rock making I Think I Love My Wife. The film is a remake of 1972's Chloe In the Afternoon, the sixth and final movie in philosophical French director Rohmer's "Moral Tales" series (issued by Criterion last year). Now, Rock and his Pootie Tang cohort Louis C.K. have teamed up to rework Rohmer's story into a moderately amusing but ultimately scattershot comedy about Richard Cooper, a businessman whose marriage to a schoolteacher (Gina Torres) has become so stagnant that he constantly daydreams about other women. Into his office walks Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington), a high-maintenance friend from his long-ago clubbing days. Bringing to mind the "Darling Nikki" from Prince's Purple Rain soundtrack, she tempts Richard by injecting some much-needed fun back into his life, thereby requiring him to decide whether he should cheat on his sexually frigid spouse. The level of humor is all over the map, yet while the script by Rock and C.K. offers a few salient points about the challenges posed in keeping any marriage fresh, any benefit of the doubt as to the picture's worth goes out the window upon the arrival of a dreadful conclusion that's not only poorly conceived and executed but also reverses one of the story's major conflicts with no explanation. I'm sure Rock meant well, but the next time he feels the urge to improve upon the French, he should try his hand at baguettes. **

Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Search Events

www.flickr.com
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2018 Womack Newspapers, Inc.
Powered by Foundation