Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Oscar Watch with Abe

Welcome to the first 2014 edition of this returning feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Watch with Abe. It’s a bit early to be able to accurately predict the eventual Oscar nominees, but around this time, plenty of likely contenders are being released. I’ll be looking every Wednesday at the awards chances for all of the films released the previous week. Additionally, to make up for lost time, I’ll also be taking a look at the films released earlier in the year, two months at a time. Chime in with your thoughts on the Oscar chances for these films in the comments section. Also, if I’ve missed any films from the previous months, please say so!

Films released October 17th, 2014


Birdman
All four of director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s previous feature-length films have earned Oscar nominations. This film is a likely Best Picture contender, and expect Inarritu to be up for directing too as he was in 2006 for “Babel.” Michael Keaton is on track to get his first Oscar nomination, and I’d love to see Edward Norton or Emma Stone join him, but I think the cast may be too crowded for favorites to be chosen. Best Original Screenplay is a lock, Best Film Editing is likely, and Best Cinematography and Best Original Score (if the film is eligible) are possibilities too.

Camp X-Ray
This film didn’t go over as well as I expected it to given the reaction it got at Sundance (someone got up and shouted “Bravo! Bravo!” while clapping). That said, I could see Kristen Stewart showing up in the Best Actress – Drama race at the Golden Globes but not making it to the Oscars. It would be nice if Payman Maadi had a shot too, but there’s no chance of that happening.

Fury
War movies don’t always make the cut with Oscar voters, but sometimes they really do. I wouldn’t expect any acting nominations for Brad Pitt or Logan Lerman despite the quality of their performances, but this will likely show up in the Best Sound or Best Sound Editing categories. Could it be a Best Picture contender? I don’t think so, but it’s possible. If it is, look for it as a possibility in Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography, but doubtful anywhere else.

Films released March and April 2014


Mr. Peabody and Sherman (March 7)
This animated film – which I liked a lot – should be up for Best Animated Feature, and I would be severely disappointed if it didn’t make the cut.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7)
Wes Anderson’s latest film is a spoiler for Best Picture, but I think that it will likely go the way of Anderson’s previous film, “Moonrise Kingdom,” which should have been in for Best Picture but ended up with just a Best Original Screenplay bid. Who knows – Oscar voters could get creative and embrace Anderson’s distinctive weirdness!

Muppets Most Wanted (March 21)
The first film took home Best Original Song, and it appears that this sequel has a handful of original tunes that it could submit, any of which have a decent shot at earning a nomination.

Divergent (March 21)
The big popular teen movies don’t always make a mark – “The Hunger Games” series hasn’t scored anything and all eight Harry Potter movies scraped together twelve nominations among all of them – but it’s always possible that a movie like this will break into one of the technical categories just to remind voters that box office and audiences do matter.

Noah (March 28)
Don’t look at the Oscar records for Darren Aronofsky, Russell Crowe, or Jennifer Connelly to help you here. Instead, look out for this film in any of the following: Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing, Best Makeup, or Best Visual Effects.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4)
The first film in the series didn’t merit any mentions but then “The Avengers” snuck into Best Visual Effects. Can this well-received sequel score a bid in that race or either of the sound categories?

Joe (April 11)
It’s not going to happen, but I would be very happy to see Nicolas Cage, an actor who doesn’t usually try too hard these days, rewarded for a top-notch performance in this underseen film. Maybe I can start a campaign? He does have an Oscar win and two nominations under his belt, even if the last one was twelve years ago.

Rio 2 (April 11)
The first film missed out on a Best Animated Feature nomination – as I imagine this one will – but it did score a Best Original Song mention. Given that this sequel apparently has fresh songs in it, it’s worthwhile to watch out for it to make a return appearance.

Fading Gigolo (April 18)
This wasn’t actually directed by Woody Allen – he just stars in it - but John Turturro’s film did earn positive mentions and might score a Best Original Screenplay nomination or pop up at the Golden Globes.

Locke (April 25)
I’m not sure when Tom Hardy is going to earn his first Oscar nomination, but it can’t be far away. If enough people saw it, he could have a shot for his one-man show in this film that finds him driving and talking on a cell phone for an hour and a half. Not likely at all, but it would be a nice and well-deserved surprise.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday’s Top Trailer: Horrible Bosses 2

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Tuesday's Top Trailer. One of my favorite parts about going to see movies is the series of trailers that airs beforehand and, more often than not, the trailer is far better than the actual film. Each week, I'll be sharing a trailer I've recently seen. Please chime in with comments on what you think of the trailer and how you think the movie is going to be.

Horrible Bosses 2 – Opening November 26, 2014


Sometimes my movie tastes don’t quite make sense, and “Horrible Bosses” is just one of those movies that I didn’t necessarily expect to like but then did even though it doesn’t jive with the much more serious awards fare that I tend to prefer. There was something undeniably funny about the first film and the combination of miserable employees and their horrible bosses that just worked, and I wasn’t sure whether they could replicate it again for a second go-round. Fortunately, the first film had plenty of funny moments that weren’t in the trailer, so let’s hope that that’s the case again here. Putting Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis together again to come up with another hairbrained scheme to take control of their lives seems like a terrific idea, and they’ve enlisted more than able talent to help them. Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx are back in supporting roles that appear to be funny. Christoph Waltz gets to play some sort of CEO who is initially big on the trio’s new business but then decides to change his tune. And then there’s Chris Pine, who is effortlessly charismatic in the “Star Trek” series and any other film in which he stars, and who here seems to be having a blast, competing with the trio and then deciding to get in on his own kidnaping (purposeful misspelling) plot. This could be stupid, sure, but from the looks of it, this could actually be a solid and worthwhile sequel.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Movie with Abe: Fury

Fury
Directed by David Ayer
Released October 17, 2014

War is a frequent setting in film. There are many different aspects of military conflicts and international disputes that can be encompassed within a film. Some present the whole picture, including governmental negotiations and political happenings at the top level, while others opt for staying focused on the battlefield itself. “Fury” revisits what may well be the most cinema-adapted war, World War II, and confines itself to one particularly claustrophobic setting: the inside of a tank. The result is a deeply intense film that uses the harsh effects of war to get to know its characters and make their journey an emotional and powerful one.

“Fury” doesn’t bother to introduce its characters at the start of the film, instead letting them speak to each other in shorthand dialogue as a way of announcing their presence. Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) leads a team that includes Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena), and Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf). Their fifth member lies dead in the tank in the middle of a destroyed and abandoned field, and his replacement comes when the team arrives back at their camp in the form of Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a clerk typist thrown into the heart of war with neither the knowledge of how to fire a gun nor the ability to set his mind to the notion of killing, setting him up for a rough orientation with his gruff, hardened team and their charismatic leader.

At first, “Fury” seems like a generic war movie that is telling a specific story but isn’t meant to be individualistic. Gradually, that changes as Collier, driven equally by a desire to protect his men and a desire to kill Nazis, and Ellison, forced to grow up just hours after he enters a tank for the first time, are thrown into situations that test their humanity and reveal the instability of war and everyone that lies in its path. Collier’s visit, with Ellison in tow, to the home of two young German women in a town that has just been taken by Allied forces, proves to be the film’s most resounding non-battle scene, showing people in the midst of war giving a rare moment of relief and the brief chance to return to normalcy.

While war wages and the team is in the tank, the gore surrounding them is often gratuitous in a way that doesn’t feel entirely necessary, and the film succeeds most when it manages to capture a glimpse of human nature rather than just blood or exploding body parts. Pitt has played this kind of role before, and Bernthal, Pena, and LaBeouf are all respectable and competent choices for their parts. It’s Lerman, however, who first got his start on the WB’s short-lived “Jack and Bobby,” who delivers the most memorable and dynamic performance as the film’s empathetic figure. The film’s title refers to the name of the tank, but it’s also a fitting description of the reality and irreversibility of war as demonstrated in this solid and occasionally starring war movie.

B+

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Movie with Abe: Sleeping with the Fishes

Sleeping with the Fishes
Directed by Nicole Gomez Fisher
Released October 21, 2014 on DVD and VOD

Families with mixed heritage can be ripe for comedy material. Combining traditions often leads to confused customs and a bizarre outlook on the world. The title “Sleeping with the Fishes” immediately conjures up an Italian mob comedy, but that’s a misnomer. The Fishes are, in fact, a Latino-Jewish family thanks to the marriage of Estella (Priscilla Lopez) to Dr. Leonard Fish (Tibor Feldman). This story in particular follows their daughter Alexis (Gina Rodriguez), who is trying to put her very messy life back together with more than a bit of unrequested help from her mother and her sister Kayla (Ana Ortiz).

An imagined TV segment of “The $50,000 Clue” begins the film and demonstrates just how much Alexis is criticized by her mother, shown in her nightmare by Estella guessing “things that make her fat” or some variation of that in response to nearly everything her daughter says. The lack of glamor in Alexis’ life is made perfectly clear when she is seen in a Los Angeles burger restaurant dressing in costume as a supposed part of her event planning gig. At home, she accidentally switches between a phone call with her sister and a phone sex call that serves as her side job. Having to fly home to New York for a funeral is hardly worse than having to face the reality of her life.

Once Alexis arrives home, a very predictable series of events begins as Estella backs off on the idea of her daughter going back to dental school and instead gets her a gig planning a Bat Mitzvah for a friend. The odds are stacked against Alexis as she has precious little time to plan the event and a monster mother to work with who bears more than a passing resemblance to Estella in how she treats her daughter. Enter heaven-sent Dominic (Steven Strait), a kind and conveniently attractive guy who seems like the perfect romantic fit designed to contradict every condescending comment made by Estella about Alexis’ size or lack of makeup. From there, it’s not too difficult to see where the film will go and whether Alexis will succeed.

The concept behind Nicole Gomez Fisher’s directorial debut is a good one, but the script is drowning in Estella’s treatment of Alexis and her inability to say anything positive or complimentary about her daughter. The opportunity for jokes about either Latina or Jewish culture is lost, and precious few references are even made. Rodriguez, who is now starring in “Jane the Virgin,” and Ana Ortiz, one of the best parts of “Ugly Betty,” are both great, but this film doesn’t allow them much range. There are pieces of a great story here, but its focus gets in the way too much to be able to tell it.

C

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. I'm going to be providing a handy guide to a few choice movies currently playing in theatres as well as several films newly released on DVD. I invite you to add in your thoughts on any films I haven’t seen in the comments below. Understandably, some weeks will have considerably fewer releases to address than others.


Now Playing in Theatres

Birdman (highly recommended): This film, which closed out the New York Film Festival, is a spectacular tale of an aging actor staging his comeback portrayed by an aging actor staging his comeback. Michael Keaton leads an incredible cast with no weak links in a marvelously inventive and engaging film. Now playing at AMC Lincoln Square and the Angelika. Read my review from NYFF.

Camp X-Ray (recommended): Kristen Stewart gets serious in this Sundance hit in which she plays a Guantanamo Bay guard who befriends a detainee, portrayed by Payman Maadi from “A Separation.” Maadi is terrific and Stewart performs ably enough in an uncomfortable film that is occasionally right on target. Now playing at IFC Center. Read my review from Sundance.

Listen Up Philip (highly recommended): Jason Schwartzman is the centerpiece of this New York Film Festival entry about a self-obsessed writer intent on alienating everyone in his life. The script is superb, and Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, and the rest of the cast are too. Now playing at Film Society Lincoln Center and IFC Center. Read my review from NYFF.

Rudderless (highly recommended): One of the best films at Sundance this year is also William H. Macy’s directorial debut, an energizing and powerful story about a father, played by Billy Crudup, who starts playing his son’s music in a band after his death in a school shooting. Now playing at AMC Empire and Village East Cinema. Read my review from Sundance.

The Young Ones (highly recommended): Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Elle Fanning are all great in this intriguing dystopian tale from Sundance that feels like both a western and a sci-fi film. Now playing at Village East Cinema. Read my review from Sundance.


New to DVD

Chinese Puzzle (highly recommended): This charming and creative movie stars Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, C├ęcile de France, and a few actors who aren’t from France. Its layered story works very well, and it’s a delightful blast all the way through.


Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

The Debt (recommended): This thriller from John Madden about an Israeli Mossad team assigned to capture a Nazi scientist isn’t as exciting as it should be, but its plot is definitely interesting. My favorite part of my review from August 2011: describing Jessica Chastain as a “rising star.”

Friday, October 17, 2014

NYFF Spotlight: Birdman


I had the distinct pleasure this year of covering a few of the films that were shown at the New York Film Festival, which took place September 26th-October 12th.

Birdman
Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Released October 17, 2014

There’s nothing quite as enticing as a comeback story. It’s even more appealing when one comeback story serves as another in its own right. “Birdman” follows Riggan Thomson, an acting actor known only for playing the title superhero in a film series decades earlier, as he prepares for the opening night of the dramatic play he has directed and in which he stars. Michael Keaton, who hasn’t done too much of note since playing Batman in the first two franchise films twenty years ago, stars as Riggan, embodying a character with whom he can undoubtedly relate. Though there are surely parallels to Keaton’s own life, Riggan’s story is considerably more fantastical, an inventive and mesmerizing journey filled with theatre, madness, sex, superheroes, and much more.

“Birdman” begins just before Riggan’s play is set to begin previews, and an accident on set forces Riggan to recast one of the roles in his four-person play. Lesley (Naomi Watts), who can’t wait for her Broadway debut, brings in her friend Mike (Edward Norton), who matches his lofty reputation with a wild unpredictable streak, to join Riggan and his costar Laura (Andrea Riseborough), with whom Riggan has entertained a romance. Pressure about the performance of the play are only enhanced by the presence of Riggan’s fresh-out-of-rehab daughter Sam (Emma Stone) and the fact that he hears Birdman talking to him, telling him that he needs to take control of his life before he loses his grip entirely.

“Birdman” is a film that walks the line between reality and fantasy, and what’s terrific is that both are equally fascinating. Watching Mike derail the first rehearsal with a drunken diatribe directed towards the audience is just as alluring as seeing a frustrated Riggan throw and break nearly every item in his dressing room using Birdman’s telekinetic powers. At times it’s hard to distinguish between what’s real and what’s in Riggan’s head, and usually, it doesn’t even matter. This is a fiercely engaging and thought-provoking look at performance, celebrity, relationships, and honesty that exudes excellence in all of those areas.

The cast in “Birdman” is stellar all around, and it’s hard to pick a favorite from the supporting cast. Watts, Norton, and Riseborough all shine as actors playing actors, each contributing something different to their layered craft. Their roles may be small, but it’s important to recognize the work of Zach Galifianakis as Riggan’s agent, Amy Ryan as his ex-wife, and Lindsay Duncan as a theatre critic. Emma Stone, who has been bumping up against serious roles for several years now, is magnificent as Riggan’s daughter, who oozes attitude but also seeks to find meaning in the midst of people pretending to be other people. And then there’s Keaton, who proves to be alternately frenetic and focused in just the right way, perfectly embodying an actor trying to show that he’s made something of his life. All of the actors embellish a strong, creative script and act to a rhythm completely in sync with Antonio Sanchez’ hypnotic jazz drum score, which sounds continuously throughout the film. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who has previously made films like “21 Grams,” “Babel,” and “Biutiful,” opts for something wholly different here and succeeds wildly.

A-

Thursday, October 16, 2014

NYFF Spotlight: Foxcatcher


I had the distinct pleasure this year of covering a few of the films that were shown at the New York Film Festival, which took place September 26th-October 12th.

Foxcatcher
Directed by Bennett Miller
To Be Released November 14, 2014

When an actor undergoes a radical transformation for a part, that tends to be all that is talked about when people reference the film. In some cases, the film follows suit and presents an astonishing portrait of a complicated and mesmerizing individual, but, more often than not, it’s the performance or even just the act of becoming unrecognizable that earns praise. It’s impossible to argue that Steve Carell isn’t trying something completely new in Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” as he plays an eccentric billionaire with a passion for wrestling, but the film that surrounds him isn’t quite as fascinating as he is.

This is the third feature film directed by Miller after “Moneyball” and “Capote.” Both those films featured very individual magnetic real-life protagonists and the intriguing circumstances that surrounded them. This film is no different, though its setting is far from the world of baseball or true crime. Instead, Carell’s John E. du Pont obsesses over the world of wrestling and sets his focus on Olympic medal-winning brothers Dave and Mark Schultz. John zeroes in on Mark (Channing Tatum), the less connected of the two, and approaches him to come live on his vast property and be a part of his championship team, while Dave (Mark Ruffalo), who is married with two children, takes considerably more convincing. Through it all, it is clear that John has extraordinary delusions of grandeur about both his abilities and his connections with people, supported by the appeasement of others who dare not speak against him for fear of retribution from the financial heavyweight.

There is a certain discomfort that pervades “Foxcatcher” as Mark spends more time with John and he reveals more of his own self-perceptions, putting on an extreme act when in sight of his disapproving elderly mother (Vanessa Redgrave). Something is obviously off, a sentiment supported by silent gazes from John at Mark when he seems like he might not be performing to expectations or Dave when he threatens to steal the spotlight of the father figure role John believes he has earned. What should be a gradual progression of foreboding is far from subtle, and the film feels unbalanced and eternally both in the middle of its story and ready to be done telling it.

This film is ultimately about three people: John, Mark, and Dave. Actresses Redgrave and Sienna Miller have minor parts that hardly required such big names, and the film is carried by the odd trio of Carell, Tatum, and Ruffalo. Carell demonstrates that he is more than capable of trying a new genre and what ranks as a dynamic and interesting performance. Tatum and Ruffalo are both solid fits to play the wrestling brothers, each equally committed to their craft. Their determination and level of engagement represent what the entire film should feel like: a love of the sport and the way in which it envelops their lives. The film has its moments but doesn’t feel nearly as passionate as its characters.

B-

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday Oscar Watch with Abe

Welcome to the first 2014 edition of this returning feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Watch with Abe. It’s a bit early to be able to accurately predict the eventual Oscar nominees, but around this time, plenty of likely contenders are being released. I’ll be looking every Wednesday at the awards chances for all of the films released the previous week. Additionally, to make up for lost time, I’ll also be taking a look at the films released earlier in the year, two months at a time. Chime in with your thoughts on the Oscar chances for these films in the comments section. Also, if I’ve missed any films from the previous months, please say so!

Films released October 3rd-10th, 2014


Gone Girl
This box office hit has proven divisive, but I think that it could still manage a Best Picture mention. Director David Fincher missed out on the top two races last time, for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” but scored with his two previous films in both categories, so he’s a serious contender to return for Best Director and Best Picture. The film’s screenplay seems like a solid bet, and a few technical categories like Best Film Editing aren’t out of the question either. This won’t be Ben Affleck’s shot to earn his first acting nomination, but I think Rosamund Pike has a strong chance as a potential Best Actress nominee.

Whiplash
This film was a hit at Sundance and the New York Film Festival and is going to earn more buzz as more people see it. Miles Teller was a longshot contender last year for “The Spectacular Now,” and he has a much better shot now for his involved performance. The film seems like a very possible Best Picture nominee, and Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (though it’s based on a short film) could follow suit. Its best chance, however, is for the first career nomination for supporting actor J.K. Simmons, who delivers a fierce and fearsome turn as a tyrannical music instructor.

Films released January and February 2014


Gloria (January 17)
Chile’s official submission for Best Foreign Film from last year didn’t pan out, and though I’m not exactly sure, I think that means the film is in contention in all other categories this year. That may have worked years ago for “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and “City of God” a decade ago, but I think that, despite her plethora of international mentions, star Paulina Garcia will manage only to siphon a few votes and not place high enough on enough ballots.

The Lego Movie (February 7)
This crowdpleaser is a lock in two categories – Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song, for the catchy and ridiculous “Everything is Awesome.” It could also factor into the Best Sound or Best Sound Editing race or elsewhere if it ends up being the definitive animated film of the year, which I’m not quite sure it will be by the end of 2014.

The Monuments Men (February 7)
Had this film been released in December as originally planned, it would have been at the forefront of Oscar voters’ minds when they were filling out their ballots. Instead, it came at a highly unmemorable time and didn’t receive the greatest mentions. George Clooney is still a formidable force, but I think this film will ultimately get nothing, but watch out for it to place in the Best Art Direction or Best Costume Design categories.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday’s Top Trailer: Focus

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Tuesday's Top Trailer. One of my favorite parts about going to see movies is the series of trailers that airs beforehand and, more often than not, the trailer is far better than the actual film. Each week, I'll be sharing a trailer I've recently seen. Please chime in with comments on what you think of the trailer and how you think the movie is going to be.

Focus – Opening February 27, 2015


My first thought when I saw this trailer featured on the IMDB home page was that it was a remake of the 2001 film of the same name starring William H. Macy as a man mistaken for a Jew after he gets new glasses in 1940s New York. This is most definitely a different movie, and one that has the potential to be good, though I’m not sure how well it will deliver. I do think that Will Smith is a strong anchor of action films like “I Am Legend,” and I didn’t much care for him in the last thought-provoking drama he did, “Seven Pounds,” or in his Oscar-nominated role in “The Pursuit of Happyness,” for that matter. What this film seems to do is to get him back to his charismatic roots, if not quite his comedic ones, allowing him to play a con man skilled in the art of charming others into believing that he’s their best friend. More enticing than Smith is his costar Margot Robbie. I thought that the Australian native was absolutely terrific in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and ignored in favor of her more well-known male costars, and I would love to see what she can do with another role that emphasizes seduction but allows her to tone down her strong fake American accent. She and Smith are an intriguing pair, to be sure. I’m happy to see Gerald McRaney and Robert Taylor in the supporting cast since that constitutes a “Longmire” reunion, and I’m eager to see both of them in new roles. February isn’t usually a great time for movies but this looks like it could be decent if it manages to us its eclectic cast and fun premise to solid effect.

Monday, October 13, 2014

NYFF Spotlight: Listen Up Philip


I had the distinct pleasure this year of covering a few of the films that were shown at the New York Film Festival, which took place September 26th-October 12th.

Listen Up Philip
Directed by Alex Ross Perry
Released October 17, 2014

Movies about writers have boundless opportunities to be clever. Sometimes that’s because those who write books tend to have negative feelings towards cinema in general, but the art of storytelling can also prove to be useful in terms of creativity. “Listen Up Philip” tells the story of Philip Lewis Friedman (Jason Schwartzman), a writer so obsessed with his craft that he disregards the rest of the world as insignificant and bothersome. As narrated by the fantastic Eric Bogosian, Philip’s story is an enthralling, hilarious, and memorable journey about more than just the man himself.

Schwartzman has a certain way about him that helps him portray overenthusiastic and eager characters such as a novelist detective in HBO’s brilliant “Bored to Death.” To play Philip, Schwartzman amps up the self-confidence and makes him a furious know-it-all, intent on dumping on others so that they will have the benefit of having heard his opinion while he praises his many merits. As he ignores his live-in girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss), Philip befriends an older version of himself, esteemed novelist Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), who helps affirm his belief that he is entitled to be pompous and to tune out the rest of the world. Philip’s search for inspiration for his next book is interwoven with Ashley’s attempts to restart her life without the negative influence of Philip and Ike’s own issues dealing with worldly connections, namely his daughter Melanie (Krysten Ritter), that bog him down from what he believes to be his true purpose in life.

“Listen Up Philip” is a very entertaining film, with each line spoken by Philip or by the narrator meant to land as bluntly and unapologetically as possible. Philip is first seen huffing and puffing about the man walking slowly in front of him, described as “never in a hurry” but always angry about the speed of others. Philip speaks with a certain intellectual flair that’s at first impressive and then just irksome, and Ike is the perfect match for him, spewing out judgmental decrees about every person and situation he encounters. But it’s not just the writers, since Ashley, Melanie, and Philip’s colleague Yvette (Josephine de La Baume) get to do their share of scathing speaking too. The script is fabulous, and it’s read enormously well by these fine actors. It’s great to see two actresses with roots in television – Moss and Ritter – demonstrating enormous potential for theatrical roles. This is definitely not a nice film since its characters rarely spare each other’s feelings, but it’s a wholly worthwhile and marvelously enjoyable experience.

B+