Hit and Run and Premium Rush, Trump bullies critics, Jane Fonda and Frank Langella play seniors and ghost stories go Boo
Frank Langella does some excellent and subtle acting as the crotchety oldster reduced to a bit of shoplifting now and then. He’s got eyes for Susan Sarandon down at the library and the prize Don Quixote volume displayed there. And he’s got occasional signs of dementia. His son’s answer is to bring around a robot to care for him. He resists loudly but soon realizes robots will do what you ask of them. They don’t know right and wrong or the law. Frank has help to resume his trade. With that the film becomes a buddy movie, offers a bit of get back against a local technology booster and a bit of suspense when the police come round. Lightweight but well-crafted and entertaining. (International Village) 3 ½ out of 5
AND IF WE ALL LIVED TOGETHER?: More comedy and drama with old people, somewhat like that big hit, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but set in France and delivering less fun. That’s because alongside the many funny moments, there’s much more about the perils of aging, loneliness, thwarted sex drive, physical weakness, illness, the inevitability of death, and, perhaps biggest of all, feeling irrelevant. Stéphane Robelin rather mechanically worked all these and more into her script and directs a superb cast who bring it alive.
Five seniors decide to share a house, just like students and hippies did years ago. There’s Claude, randy as ever but less able, Albert, more and more forgetful, Jean, the former radical who these days can’t get arrested, and two women. Jane Fonda effortlessly plays a transplanted American, speaking perfect French, hiding a medical problem, giving sex advice and at the same time planning her funeral. Geraldine Chaplin plays a retired psychiatrist who owns the house but can’t control the people in it. The tone is light throughout whether the discussion is over minutiae like sharing housekeeping duties or a series of momentous revelations from the past. The film is messy in raising too many issues but still likeable. (5th Avenue Cinemas) 3 out of 5
THE AWAKENING: At the beginning, and for a long time after, this is a nicely creepy and mysterious ghost story. A bit slow and not all that scary but strong in atmosphere, the classy variety that the British have done so well in years past. Rebecca Hall (she was Vicky in Barcelona) plays a ghost hunter in 1920s England exposing charlatans who prey on grieving people. In the first scene, she disrupts a séance. Then she’s invited to a country boarding school where a boy claims to have seen the ghost of a student who died there many years ago. “He wants to get me,” says the boy played by Isaac Hempstead Wright, who you’ll recognize from Game of Thrones.
Rebecca follows noises in the halls at night, finds a hidden staircase, inspects a model house that seems to have familiar room settings, listens to the warnings of the school matron (Imelda Staunton) and has sex with the teacher (Dominic West) who invited her there. That scene doesn’t belong and it was about that point that the film gets shaky. The story seems to get away from the director (and us) as it turns more and more complicated and flings twists about that muddy things more. The ghost lady does out-of-character things; she’s unraveling. By the time of the big reveal that explains it all, it’s too late. We’ve been off balance too long and the finale isn’t convincing. The acting and the cinematography are top notch though. (International Village) 2 ½ out of 5
THE APPARITION: A séance starts this one too, and a second follows years later, both billed as controlled scientific experiments to prove the existence of ghosts and such. The latter one has more effect in that, according to the lead researcher (played by Tom Felton, formerly Harry Potter’s Draco Malfoy) it brings something over to our world from the other side. We never see what it is but we see what it does in the big new house that Ashley Greene (of the Twilight films) and Sebastian Stan move into. It shuts and opens doors, turns off lights, causes groaning noises in the night, smashes security cameras, grows a big patch of mould and kills a dog. The film has chills and lots of style. Producer Joel Silver made it at Germany’s fabled Studio Babelsberg. However, it’s done in by its ridiculous premise and by taking too much visual inspiration from the Paranormal Activity films. (International Village and suburban theatres) 1 ½ out of 5
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