Robert Redford a triumph in All is Lost
You’ve got a huge selection of new and special films this week, from a lost sailor to a drug trafficking lawyer. And look what’s in between. Here’s the list:
All Is Lost: 4 ½
Escape from Tomorrow: 3 ½
Thanks for Sharing: 2 ½
Bad Grandpa: 3
Casting By: 4
Radioman: 2 ½
Horrors at the VanCity: --
The Counselor: --
ALL IS LOST: Robert Redford is alone in this one. Completely. In a leaky boat in the Indian Ocean for eight days. Pi had a tiger. Redford, who isn’t even given a name, just listed as “Our Man,” has nobody. He says almost nothing; just a few words as a prologue, a futile radio call and a short fit of cursing. So is this worth seeing? And does he merit all this Oscars talk that’s going on right now?
Yes. Yes. This is a gripping film about survival. Sailors, and there are many around here, will be especially taken by it. Redford hears a clunk in his boat one night and finds the hull punctured by a cargo container that’s floating free and spilling athletic shoes. Water is coming in and a quick patch with a piece of tarp and some glue keeps it out. For a while. That’s only the start of the ordeal. The electronics are out and “Our Man” has to quickly learn celestial navigation from a book. He’s trying to get to a busy shipping lane. There’s a storm coming on. Tension builds and the film forces you to ponder mortality without even dwelling on it; just by the many authentic details of life on a boat in danger. And by Redford’s acting all done through gesture, facial expression and behaving like a real sailor using his wits. I was irritated by a few things he does, but that’s the script’s fault. This is a second film by J. C. Chandor and in its spare single-purpose story is quite unlike his first, the busy financial-crimes thriller Margin Call. (5th Avenue) 4 ½ out of 5
ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW: Here’s a bizarre but engrossing and entertaining hallucination of a movie about a family vacation that turns from all-too real to wildly strange. A dad, a mom and their two kids spend the day at Disneyland doing all the usual things like standing in long line ups for Space Mountain, disagreeing, whining (the kids) and nagging (the wife.) The father starts ogling a pair of teen girls and as the day progresses sees odd visions, has fantasies about sex with women he meets and gets tasered when he loses his daughter in the crowd. He also gets sick on one of the rides.
How did the Disney company allow this to be filmed in their park? And over in Florida, at Disney World? They didn’t. Randy Moore and his crew did it completely on the sly. They looked like any other tourists with video cameras and produced a sharp little film that conveys much of the real experience of these parks. And then exaggerates crazily. They imagine a secret underground lab run by the high-tech firm Siemens, an exploding dome, cat flu and other outrageous stuff. Not to criticize, just for fun. (5th Avenue Cinemas) 3 ½ out of 5
THANKS FOR SHARING: This third film about sex addiction (after Shame and Don Jon) is so light in tone it feels like a romantic comedy, which in part it is. Another part really is a comedy. A character cheats in his 12-step program and his relapses are played like pratfalls.