New in Theaters: ‘One Chance’ Nearly Makes It

Alexandra Roach gets charmed by James Corden, playing an unlikely opera singer from Wales, in 'One Chance' (Weinstein)

Alexandra Roach gets charmed by James Corden, playing an unlikely opera singer from Wales, in ‘One Chance’ (Weinstein)

One Chance, one of those charming but really-should-have-been-better rom-coms, is opening this weekend in semi-limited release. It’s nearly worth seeing for the inestimable James Corden.

My review is at Film Racket:

For the true story of Paul Potts, the down-on-his-luck Welsh cellphone store clerk with dreams of becoming an opera star, you don’t expect much in the way of nuance. True to form, the folks at Weinstein — who’ve created a decent-sized niche line of feel-good stories with light quirk, preferably from the United Kingdom — and David Franckel, director of well-acted fluff both tolerable (The Devil Wears Prada) and not (Hope Springs) leave the nuance behind and goes for broke on the cute, lightly sprinkled with comedy. The formula, part romantic comedy and part Billy Elliot, comes close to working, but collapses at the conclusion like a poorly-made cake. That’s what happens when your big finale involves Simon Cowell…..

You can see the trailer here:

Now Playing: Romantic Comedy Sci-Fi in ‘The One I Love’

Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass get a surreal bit of marriage counseling in 'The One I Love' (RADiUS-TWC)

Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass get a surreal bit of marriage counseling in ‘The One I Love’ (RADiUS-TWC)

The One I Love is playing now in highly limited release. My review is at Film Racket:

How well can we ever know each other? That’s one of the less interesting questions posed by Charlie McDowell’s willowy and romantic science-fiction two-hander with a Twilight Zone twist about a couple with marriage problems whose sojourn at a therapeutic retreat takes a quirky turn. When the story is fully locked in, it wrestles with some more gripping issues of identity and a Machiavellian spin on relationship dynamics. But all too often, it falls back on easygoing relationship drama that saps the underlying premise of its more meaningful promise….

You can see the trailer here:

Now Playing: ‘The Trip to Italy’ is Highly Unnecessary Comedy, But Not in a Bad Way

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan in 'The Trip to Italy' (IFC Films)

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan in ‘The Trip to Italy’ (IFC Films)

Two comics playing slightly tweaked versions of themselves, ravishing Italian scenery, phenomenal food, recitations of Shelley’s poetry, Tom Hardy impressions. That’s about all one needs to know about Michael Winterbottom’s nervy, gadabout sequel to the 2010 road comedy The Trip.

The Trip to Italy is playing now in highly limited release. My review is at Film Racket:

The Trip to Italy’s total lack of necessity has little bearing on its enjoyability. There’s nothing wrong with watching a pair of lyrical, spry, and acid-tongued comics lashing each other with barbed commentary while enjoying the operatic grandeur of a foodie junket through Italy’s more salubrious and sun-splashed districts. Does it matter that they’re not bringing much new to the party?…

You can see the trailer here:

Also, here you can check out one of the better clips: Coogan and Brydon on The Dark Knight Rises:

Now Playing: A Johnny Cash of the Soul in ‘Calvary’

Kelly Reilly and Brendan Gleeson in 'Calvary' (Fox Searchlight)

Kelly Reilly and Brendan Gleeson in ‘Calvary’ (Fox Searchlight)

Back in 2011, Brendan Gleeson played a cynical, caustic cop on the remote western coast of Ireland for John Michael McDonagh’s crackling black comedy The Guard. In Calvary, the two reteam for another dark-hued story about violence, morality, and modern depravity. There’s gags aplenty, but this is no comedy.

Calvary is playing now in limited release. My review is at PopMatters:

In Calvary, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) begins the worst and possibly last week of his life when he’s threatened in the confessional. An anonymous penitent tells James that he was repeatedly raped by a priest starting at the age of seven. That priest is now dead, but the man wants to a kill a priest anyway. He prefers his victim be a good and innocent priest, like Father James, because that would make people pay attention. James has a week to live. “Killing a priest on a Sunday,” the voice muses with the jangled amusement of the insane. “Now that’d be something.”…

You can see the trailer here:

Now Playing: ‘Into the Storm’ Destroys Many Buildings

Look out! (Warner Bros.)

Into the Storm: Perhaps running away from the tornado would be wise. (Warner Bros.)

So there’s a big tornado coming. No, make that a lot of tornadoes. What to do? Well, maybe just run right into it with your cameras rolling. That’s the basic premise for Into the Storm, a rather disastrous disaster flick that tries to update Twister for the social media age.

My review of Into the Storm, which blows into theaters for a likely very brief stint starting tomorrow, is at Film Journal International:

Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but shout “Oh my God!” and breathlessly inquire “Is everybody okay?” That is just about the extent of memorable dialogue from Into the Storm, in which a desperate team of storm-chasers, some school kids, and a supersized tornado converge on a small rural burg whose McMansions and car dealerships are just kindling for the conflagration that everybody paid to see…

You can see the trailer here:

Now Playing: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Would Beat ‘The Avengers’ in a Dance-Off

Which of these Guardians of the Galaxy has an awesome mix-tape on their Walkman? (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)

Which of these Guardians of the Galaxy has an awesome mix-tape on their Walkman? (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)

It’s big, it’s everywhere, it’s somehow much better than your average Marvel output—even Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. Guardians of the Galaxy is playing now throughout the known universe; check it out.

My article “Guardians of the Galaxy out-Whedons The Avengers” is at Short Ends & Leader:

There’s a lot to appreciate—and maybe even love—about Guardians of the Galaxy. The oozing and eager-to-please sprawl of Gen-X references, from Mom’s ‘70s pop music mixtape to hero Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, surfer-dude sly) romancing the green-skinned assassin babe Gamora (Zoe Saldana) by referencing the “legend” of Footloose. Banter threaded slyly through the action instead of airdropped in by executive committee looking for humor beats. A talking raccoon skilled in jail-breaks and bomb-making. David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”. A genocidal villain thwarted by a dance-off. The two-hour running time, practically unheard-of brevity for modern blockbusters. Howard the Duck…

You can see the trailer here:

New in Theaters: ‘A Most Wanted Man’

Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'A Most Wanted Man' (Roadside Attractions)

Philip Seymour Hoffman in ‘A Most Wanted Man’ (Roadside Attractions)

mostwantedman-posterThe latest John Le Carre adaptation is also one of the final film performances of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and just about nearly worth seeing just for him alone.

A Most Wanted Man is playing now in limited release. My review is at Film Racket:

This elegant, sparse, and scrupulously acted but dramatically stunted adaptation is like Anton Corbijn’s last film,The American: tasteful in a Europhilic way and not quite human. Although set right in the middle of the post-9/11, post-Cold War chaos that supposedly put an end to the old ways of sleuthing, the film has us harkening back to spy business essentials. These operatives certainly make good use of bleeding-edge gadgetry; after all, one of the great draws of those old spy stories was their showing off of then-new technology, catalog-like. But the fixation is really on those classic skills of patience and mousetrap-springing that the modern espionage thriller has essentially jettisoned like Jason Bourne leaping out a window. It would seem gauche if one of these guys even pulled out a gun. That careful sense of professionals going about their work with grim diligence is some of the best of what Corbijn’s film has to offer. What it doesn’t present is a pulse…

You can see the trailer here: