Clint Eastwood prevails in Trouble With the Curve; Jennifer Lawrence brave in House at the End of the Street
The bar will be raised a great deal next week when the Vancouver International Film Festival starts up again. I’ll have some recommendations for you starting Wednesday.
Meanwhile, there’s mostly mainstream fare among the new movies this week. You could check out two other possibilities. The VanCity Theatre is honoring the late Tony Scott by bringing back True Romance, the gritty, profane and violent film he directed from a script by Quentin Tarantino. It screens tonight (Sept 21). Later tonight and Saturday, the wacko Iron Sky, about Nazis from the moon, also returns.
Over at the Denman, which is about to close down, a week of classics starts on Sunday. Check out the website VancouverRetroCinema.com for the list that includes The Big Lebowski, the first two Godfathers, Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds , Back to the Future and more.
Here are the films I’m reviewing this week:
Trouble With The Curve: 3½ stars
House at the End of the Street: 3
Dredd 3D: 3
End of Watch: 2½
Roller Town: 2½
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE: Exactly the kind of mainstream filmmaking Hollywood has done forever. People we like find themselves in a bundle of relatively mild problems and manage to solve them without a lot of straining–although in one case here, with extreme improbability— in time to get you out and home feeling satisfied. Set everything in crisp bright colors and add a love story and you’ve got a pleasing light entertainment.
Clint Eastwood, who just may have been doing a sly publicity stunt with his talk to that chair, plays a senior with memory, vision and other old-age problems. He scolds his willy for instance for taking so long dripping. He’s been a long-time scout finding players for the Atlanta Braves baseball team but a young and mean computer-armed challenger is trying to push him aside. He’s allowed to go on one more trip if he takes his daughter (Amy Adams) along. They have father-daughter issues that go way back and she’s also in tough for a promotion at the law firm she works at.
As if that’s not enough, she meets and slowly warms up to Justin Timberlake, who plays an ex-pitcher, now trying to be a scout but dreaming of a broadcast career. They have a great time trading baseball trivia and bantering gently. Clint, though, carries the central story about ignoring ageism and carrying on in his old ways. He’s crusty, dignified and often very funny. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to like that. (The Ridge, Scotiabank and many suburban theatres) 3 ½ out of 5
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET: No, this is not a slasher film. Good. After all, there are two former Academy Award nominees for Best Actress here. Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Shue play a daughter and mother newly moved into a rural house made affordable by a terrible history. In a neighboring house, just visible over there through the trees, a young girl killed her parents. She’s now missing; her brother has come back to live there and Jennifer hears strange noises in the woods.
The brother (Max Thieriot) is shunned by everyone except the local cop who says he’s never had any trouble with him. Elizabeth shows empathy and Jennifer befriends him.
Then things happen. The film is well-paced and progressively builds a mood of unease and tension. The dialogue is natural and the actors are believable. The story though slips out of control and by the end is overwrought with creepiness. It was filmed in Ottawa of all places by English director Mark Tonderai before Lawrence became a big star with The Hunger Games. And definitely on the plus side, this film has one of the all-time greatest startles in movie history. (Scotiabank and suburban theatres) 3 out of 5
DREDD 3D: This is take two in trying to turn this British comic character into a movie hero. Sylvester Stallone’s 1995 attempt is almost universally condemned as a failure. Karl Urban fares much better but the film bears a striking resemblance to the gunfest and martial arts extravaganza, The Raid: Redemption, that came our way from Indonesia back in April. In both films most of the action takes place inside one high-rise building controlled by criminals.