A joint-rolling-related adolescent memory from Ethan Hawke. #Sundance #tenthousandsaints
3.5 stars (out of four)
There’s not a whole lot of activity in “The End of the Tour.” I’m pretty sure both people sitting next to me at the premiere struggled to stay awake.
I found the film, a depiction of Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky’s (Jesse Eisenberg) five-day interview with acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) at the end of his “Infinite Jest” book tour, a fascinating examination of the relationship between writers and audiences, not to mention the competitive insecurity of creatives. “David, this is nice,” Wallace tells Lipsky early in their time together as the guys hit it off and share some laughs. “This is not real.” In a delicately complex performance, Segel gives the late author a mix of youthful enthusiasm and weathered fear, a sad soul capable of joy even as uncertainty and loneliness hover not far below the surface. Lipsky struggles to ask the hard questions—his editor (Ron Livingston) demands that his writer be a prick and get the story—but the movie recognizes that just because an interview feels fun doesn’t mean it’s going well.
An obvious comparison must be made with “Almost Famous,” another movie in which a young journalist attempts to get what he needs from a subject he admires while dealing with his affection for the person on the other side of the tape recorder. The difference, of course, is that in “The End of the Tour,” Wallace is already famous. The way writer Donald Marguiles, adapting Lipsky’s book “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself,” and director James Ponsoldt (“Smashed,” “The Spectacular Now”), in his most focused effort to date, consider the challenges that come from receiving attention seems not like feeling sorry for a successful writer.
With an excellently credible dynamic between Segel and Eisenberg, two actors who have long played very different kinds of intellectually driven characters, the film is a deeply human study of the internal impulses we indulge or hide, whether that pertains to intellect, attraction or otherwise. Sometimes connections form between near-strangers; sometimes distance emerges between best friends. In “The End of the Tour,” life can always be shaped in certain ways, but only sometimes does that get committed to paper, ready to be analyzed and taken as truth, garbage or somewhere in between.
Mamie Gummer read RedEye (sort of) during her time in Chicago. #Sundance #endofthetour
Mamie Gummer says don't underestimate improv comedians. #Sundance #endofthetour
What Northwestern grad Mamie Gummer misses about Chicago. #Sundance #endofthetour
2.5 stars (out of four)
Ethan Hawke is so funny in “Ten Thousand Saints” that he nearly keeps the movie afloat, even though it’s the kind of adaptation of a novel that reminds you why certain novels don’t translate naturally to the big screen. I haven’t read the book by Eleanor Henderson, but the adaptation from married co-writers/co-directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (“American Splendor”) is lucky to have Hawke, who takes what could have been a very standard Ethan Hawke role (goofy, unreliable dad) and makes it specific and continually surprising. The movie both nicely establishes a time and place while also lacking focus and momentum (and broadly saluting a flawed character as if he were a king) in its 1980s-set coming-of-age story of ultra-bland Jude’s (Asa Butterfield) obvious feelings for unexpectedly pregnant Eliza (Hailee Steinfeld). Emile Hirsch yells and philosophizes effectively as a straight-edge rocker, and there’s an endearing innocence (or lack thereof) to the mix of developing music and political worlds. But Hawke is the ace here. One highlight: “I’m not judging,” Les tells his son, Jude. “I met your mom at an orgy."
So as not to bury the lede, “The Overnight” does indeed feature Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman dancing naked and swinging genitalia that is assumedly prosthetic. But the extremes involved in this study of sexuality in long-term relationships don’t feel like groan-inducing inevitabilities for a story about two couples going from strangers to something a lot closer than that in the course of a night. Though I’m not convinced that Alex (Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) are so desperate for new friends that they’d go along with everything Kurt (Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Judith Godreche) suggest, all the leads are strong. And writer-director Patrick Brice (“Creep”) has a good sense of how appealing an unconventional release can be when enough anxiety/tension has accumulated. Entertaining and talkable.
And closing on a very important question for Jason Segel. #Sundance #endofthetour
If Jason Segel has nightmares about his roles. #Sundance #endofthetour
If this role fed Jason Segel's desire to challenge himself. #Sundance #endofthetour
Jason Segel on what makes a good road trip. #Sundance #endofthetour
The worst pickup line Mickey Sumner has ever heard. #Sundance #endofthetour
Danny Elfman on writing music for "Fifty Shades of Grey." #Sundance #endofthetour
Composer Danny Elfman wrote the "Simpsons" theme. Is it constantly in his head? #Sundance #endofthetour
If Ron Livingston could quit a job, "Office Space"-style. #Sundance #endofthetour
What Ron Livingston says makes a good road trip. #Sundance #endofthetour
What Ron Livingston thinks of first from his Chicago days. #Sundance #endofthetour
3.5 stars (out of four)
Not only is “Girlhood” the first great movie of 2015, but you don’t have to wait very long to see it: The French coming-of-age drama opens Feb. 6 at the Siskel Center. And it’s everything Richard Linklater’s overrated “Boyhood” isn’t involving and specific, insightful and brilliantly acted. Featuring an incredible debut performance from Karidja Toure as Marieme, a shy teenager whose life, style and name change after she befriends a group of far more outgoing girls, writer-director Celine Sciamma’s (“Tomboy”) latest observes a young life in development, heavily influenced by her surroundings, with each decision leading to memories, lessons, mistakes and growth. You know, the way formative years actually happen.
Viewed via screener before Friday’s festival screening
3 stars (out of four)
Sex becomes like a dangerous chain letter for Jay (Maika Monroe of “The Guest”) after the guy (Jake Weary) she sleeps with tells her he just passed along a force to her that will manifest in a (possibly naked) person only she can see--who is coming to kill her. Should Jay take this seriously and pay it forward as some kind of deadly STD? Will she take advantage of the nice guy (Keir Gilchrist of “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”) who’d love for her to give him anything? Writer-director David Robert Mitchell (the under-seen “The Myth of the American Sleepover”) doesn’t necessarily reinvent the well-tread relationship between sexual discovery and horror, but he creates quiet suspense that, even if it never explodes, also never fades. An eerie take on being young and uncertain of what’s to come, only sure that it will be here soon.
Viewed via press screening before Friday's festival screening
How "The Overnight" writer/director Patrick Brice eases a tense situation. #Sundance
Last one from Adam Scott: how to leave a dinner party. #Sundance #theovernight
"The Overnight" co-star Judith Godreche on making friends too quickly. #Sundance
One more thing from Adam Scott. #Sundance
And a good place to try to make friends, says Adam Scott. #Sundance
Adam Scott on a bad place to try to make friends. #Sundance
In position on press line for "The Overnight." #Sundance
2 stars (out of four)
A movie about dance music that doesn’t seem to care or know much about it, “Eden” takes 95 minutes (of its 131-minute running time) before peeking in on the creative process, and even then it’s brief and unsatisfying. Stretching from 1992 to late 2013, this disappointing effort from French director/co-writer Mia Hansen-Love (“Goodbye First Love”) stars Felix de Givry as Paul, an aspiring DJ and major cocaine fan who appears to have missed the memo about the need to hustle and work to make it in a creative field. Girlfriends come and go; money rarely arrives. Yet Paul and Stan (Hugh Conzelmann), the members of garage duo Cheers—note: Paul describes garage as comparable to house music but with more disco—seem to have little interaction with each other or passion for what they do. They’re not inspired. They don’t sacrifice. And Hansen-Love, existing at a distance from all of this, never identifies a distinction for why anyone else makes it in a changing dance landscape and these dopes don’t. (They also gain no professional advantage from being pals with Daft Punk. Come on, guys, network!) If “Half-assing your career will get you nowhere” counts as a big lesson for young artists, the music industry is in even bigger trouble than we thought. P.S. Former Chicagoan Greta Gerwig appears briefly as one of Paul’s many better halves.
A view not seen at Chicago bus stops. #Sundance
1.5 stars (out of four)
“Gloats get kicked in the throats.” “The early bird catches the sperm.” “Absence makes the [bleep] grow harder.” Yes, Hope (Melissa Rauch of “The Big Bang Theory,” who wrote the script with her husband, Winston) has a way with words. That way is aggressively unfunny and immensely unlikable. In the annoying, formulaic “The Bronze,” Hope is an obnoxious, entitled jerk clinging to the celebrity she earned after winning a bronze medal while competing with an injury, Kerri Strug-style, at the 2004 Olympics. Driving a car with the license plate “Bronzed” and doing less-than-charming things like punching her dad (Gary Cole) in the face and dubbing an old pal (Thomas Middleditch, in a sweet performance) who experiences uncontrollable muscle spasms “Twitchy,” she may as well be called “Bad Gymnast,” and she sure as hell doesn’t earn any redemption in her work coaching/sabotaging a rising star (Haley Lu Richardson) in her former sport. It’s rare, however, to be able to use the phrase “sexual gymnastics” and mean it literally, so at least there’s that.
At Yarrow. Saw "Whiplash" here a year ago. High bar for "The Bronze" to hit. #Sundance #gymnasticsrelatedmoviewordplay
Let's do this. #Sundance