Screening Room: ‘Resistance’

Did you ever think you would see a movie in which General Patton introduces his battle-wearied soldiers to a performance by Marcel Marceau? Or that the world-famous mime spent much of World War II spiriting Jewish orphans out of France to safety? You get all that and more in the far-from-perfect but still satisfying new biopic Resistance, starring Jesse Eisenberg as Marceau, which will be available this Friday.

My review is at Slant Magazine:

Writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Resistance is an old-fashioned and straightforward tale of brave opposition to the Nazi occupation of France whose most potentially intriguing angle becomes its least satisfying dimension. While featuring many familiar elements, including a sarcastically reluctant hero, a mentally unbalanced sadistic villain, and nail-biter last-minute escapes, it’s centered on a character who one doesn’t often see in World War II movies: a Nazi-fighting mime…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: ‘Cafe Society’

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Jesse Eisenberg goes to 1930s Hollywood in Woody Allen’s latest time machine romantic comedy. All the outfits are fantastic and the jazz (of course) is hot.

cafe-society-Theatrical Poster_rgbCafe Society is playing now in limited release. My review is at PopMatters:

Café Society is nearly done before it gets off a halfway decent joke. Not that it’s been trying too hard before then to be funny, or anything much in particular besides reheat some old Allen material and stir it around before calling it a day. You get the sense that he was already plotting out his next film while still dashing off dialogue for this one…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: ‘Louder than Bombs’

Isabelle Huppert and Gabriel Byrne in 'Louder than Bombs'
Isabelle Huppert and Gabriel Byrne in ‘Louder than Bombs’

No, sadly, Louder than Bombs isn’t a concert film or documentary about The Smiths—speaking of which, why hasn’t that happened yet? It’s a quiet but bracing character study from the underseen (so far, at least) director Joachim Trier, working with his biggest cast yet.

Louder than Bombs is opening this week. My review is at Film Journal International:

There’s probably no better sign of the West’s solipsism than the fact that after years of roiling strife in the Middle East and elsewhere, our artists and audiences seem at the moment less interested in stories about those catastrophic conflicts than stories about how they impact the Westerners who report on them. Memoirs, plays and films, from Body of an American to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, have reinvigorated the sub-genre of stories about Westerners finding meaning in exotic, faraway lands. Only now, the main character is less likely to be a do-gooder with a sense of mission than a war journalist with a long, dark streak of romantic self-destruction who is not so much reawakened by their experiences as they are traumatized and broken…

Here’s the trailer:

Now Playing: ‘Night Moves’

Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg, and Peter Sarsgaard in 'Night Moves' (Cinedigm)
Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg, and Peter Sarsgaard in ‘Night Moves’ (Cinedigm)

nightmoves-posterA trio of environmental conspirators try to blow up a Pacific Northwest dam in Kelly Reichardt’s superbly quiet but tension-laced new film, Night Moves, which is playing now in limited release.

My review is at Film Racket:

The green activists plotting to blow up a dam in Kelly Reichardt’s sublimely nervy new film don’t talk about why they’re doing it. By the time the film catches up with them, the trio has already set their minds on a plan of action. They talk shop here and there, one grousing about all the golf courses being built in a dry climate, another about how the oceans will be dead from pollution by 2048. But there’s no deeper investigation into the why of what they’re about to do or whether they should do it. They just know that the dam, that hulking concrete symbol of humanity domineering nature, must come down. “It wants to come down,” one says dreamily. The introspection comes afterward, with a vengeance…

Here’s the trailer:

New in Film: ‘The Double’

Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in 'The Double' (image courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)
Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in ‘The Double’ (image courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)

In Dostoyevsky’s 1846 novel The Double, a St. Petersburg bureaucrat encounters an identical version of himself, who proceeds to take over his life. In Richard Ayoade’s hallucinogenic, picaresque adaptation, Jesse Eisenberg plays both halves of the office-drone doppleganger—one an ignored sad sack who can’t get the girl and the other a life-of-the-party predator who can get any girl. Frustration results.

The Double is playing now in limited release. My review is at Film Racket:

If Wes Anderson immersed himself in Orwell, Kafka, and other high priests of chilly, bureaucratic horror, the result might look something like Richard Ayoade’s metaphysical nightmare The Double. That would never happen, of course, as Anderson is an optimist and fabulist who believes in the happy ending, warted though it might be. Ayoade is a colder fish, as he showed in his first film, Submarine, which had a little too much fun reveling in its young protagonist’s studied quirk for its own sake. But that directorial remove, coupled with a lack of desire to pretend that a character’s suffering in any way automatically creates nobility, helps make Avi Korine’s adaptation of the Dostoyevsky novella into a bracing, darkly crystalline film that isn’t easily shaken off. If there were ever such a thing as the nightmare comedy, this is it…

You can see the trailer here: