Movie Review: You Will Be My Son

You Will Be My Son is an exquisite, mesmeric French film about family drama, a picturesque vineyard and a whole lotta wine.

The film centers on an elderly, coldhearted owner (Niels Arestrup) of a prestigious family vineyard who shamelessly plots to disinherit his own disappointing son (LorĂ nt Deutsch) in favor of his ailing manager’s more talented and charismatic heir (Nicolas Bridet).

A Chekovian beginning leads to a Shakespearean finale with plenty of beautiful scenery and winetasting in between.

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Movie Review: Run & Jump

Will Forte garnered critical claim for his performance in Nebraska, but the SNL’s dramatic debut in the lesser known film Run & Jump was just as noteworthy.

Based on a true story, the poignant Irish indie dramedy depicts an uptight neuro-psychologist (Forte) who moves in with a boisterous Irish family while conducting a case study on their formerly comatose patriarch.

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Movie Review: A Case of You

A Case of You is an indie romantic comedy starring Justin Long and Rachel Evan Wood with some hilarious cameos by Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage and Vince Vaughn. I had mixed but mostly very positive feelings about this odd little film.

Justin Long stars as a struggling writer who basically stalks and seduces Rachel Evan Wood’s not-so-manic pixie girl barista through social media. He pretends to be the man of her dreams based on interests listed in her Facebook profile.

Thankfully the film’s direction, script and acting is so strong and interesting you quickly get caught up in the somewhat creepy romantic comedy premise. And Long’s character does redeem himself by the end – after a cleverly self-aware scene with his editor.

The romantic plot aside, the film is worth watching for two very hilarious scenes: one in which Sam Rockwell portrays a has been guitar teacher and the scene-stealing elderly dancer “Raymond” in the film’s finale.

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DVD Review: The Man on the Train

The Man on the Train is a quietly remarkable, intelligent, intensely poetic film about the unlikely and somewhat bittersweet friendship between two very different men.

A remake of the French film, L’Homme du Train, The Man on the Train stars U2’s Larry Mullen and the brilliant Donald Sutherland — the latter of which really deserved an Oscar for his performance.

Mullen effectively portrays a mysterious, sullen drifter whose chance encounter with a retired, lonely poetry professor (Sutherland) leads both men to examine their respective life paths and personalities.

As the silent drifter is forced to stay with the overly chatty professor, their initially stilted, socially awkward conversation grows into a thought-provoking dialogue spanning several days as each reveals their unexpected envy of the other’s life.

The unusual relationship is summed up best by two scenes: one in which the repressed professor pretends to be Wyatt Earp with the drifter’s gun and the other in which the tough drifter peruses books and listens to classical music with the professor’s unlit pipe in his mouth.

It’s a slow moving but beautiful, literary film with refreshingly elegant direction and acting.

A subtle suspense simmers just beneath the surface of the story as it becomes evident that both men hide their own deep, dark secrets…which come crashing into the light on their final day together. The end was a bit too darkly ambiguous for my taste (proving, I suppose, the Professor’s Henry James quote that “Americans want tragedies with happy endings”), but it was clever and I otherwise loved the film.

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DVD Review: Bernie

Directed by Richard Linklater (Before Sunset, Me & Orson Welles), Bernie is an extremely morbid but also extremely funny dark comedy.

Based on the true story of a beloved small-town mortician, Bernie stars Jack Black as the titular character and Shirley McLaine plays the wealthy, curmudgeonly older widow whose bizarre friendship with Bernie takes a twisted turn. Matthew McConaughey also gives an over-the-top performance as the melodramatic local prosecutor.

Quirky townfolk interviews with actual friends and neighbors of the real life Bernie keep the mood very light despite the somber plot. And Black’s brilliant comedic portrayal is uncharacteristically subtle, but still big on laughs.

Bernie is an unusual, humorous and superbly done film and Jack Black deserves at least an Oscar nomination for it.

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