Three Short Reviews:
If you're looking for a movie to see this weekend, I have a recommendation and two warnings.
My recommendation is THE COMPANY MEN, a drama about three corporate executives who lose their high paying jobs and can't find new work. It's a serious, all too familiar subject, and the actors--Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee Jones really do the story justice.
Some audiences may not feel sympathy for six figure salary men who wind up on the street, but layoffs are no less troubling and life changing for them than anyone else.
Affleck is Bobby. His strategy is to maintain appearances until he can find a new job, but he winds up having to work as a carpenter for Kevin Costner, his brother-in-law who doesn't even like him.
The most poignant of the trio is aging executive Chris Cooper has even less success finding gainful employment. And even being second in command of the company can't save Tommy Lee Jones' character. He's been opposed to mass layoffs from the start, and he's the last one to be fired. THE COMPANY MEN is more like a solid TV drama than a fully realized feature film, but the actors compensate for some slight weakness in the script.
SOMEWHERE is director Sofia Coppola's slow paced look at the empty life of a rich, successful Hollywood actor. Steven Dorf is that actor, a self-indulgent but well intentioned guy who barely knows the eleven year old daughter who comes to stay with him for awhile. Elle Fanning plays the precocious young girl who is the closest her father ever gets to a real human connection. Unfortunately, SOMEWHERE is more boring than poetic; watching it really tried my patience. It's nowhere near as good as the director's most famous film, LOST IN TRANSLATION.
THE ILLUSIONIST has earned an Oscar nomination for best animation. But you should know that it's not for kids or for mainstream audiences of any age. Instead, it's strictly aimed at an art house audience, especially those who enjoy the kind of art films that were made just after the movies were able to use sound. You see, there's almost no dialogue at all in this meandering story of an elegant but shabby old magician and the young female he travels with.
The script was written in the 1950's by Jacques Tati, the filmmaker/actor. It was adapted and brought to the screen by the animator who did THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE.
THE ILLUSIONIST is visual poetry, but its melancholy tone and artistic style are from an era that is long gone.