‘The Only Living Boy in New York’: Vintage Jeff Bridges carries charming love story

Stellar acting carries this New York love story

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Thomas Webb (Callum Turner, channeling a young James Franco) has a big problem: he can’t tell the difference between true love and infatuation. A young wannabe writer dangling his heart around the streets of New York City between three women, Thomas gets a little help from his new neighbor, W.F. Gerald (a never better Jeff Bridges), who is as almost as mysterious as he is wise. Webb’s struggle reminds of the British loverboy Alfie’s movie ending line: “Love. What’s it all about?”

Director Marc Webb and screenwriter Allan Loeb craftily mix writer’s block, lover quarrels, and a coming of age tale into a smooth talking and moving 87 minute film called The Only Living Boy in New York. ¬†While self-indulgent at times and a little too smart for its own good, the film charms the worry out of its viewer and allows its majestic city to play a tiny role in the film. This is a film that a young Woody Allen could appreciate, because there are laughs and heartstring tugs happening here.

Thomas is ready to lend his entire heart to the affections of Mimi (Kiersey Clemons), who has more feelings for a trip to Croatia than a romance with our young protagonist. When Thomas finds out his father (Pierce Brosnan) is cheating on his mother (Cynthia Nixon) with a beautiful young copy editor (Kate Beckinsale), the rug on his already complicated life is yanked out from under him.

Does Thomas tell his mom-who has already experienced breakdowns due to depression and bipolar disorder-such horrible news–or does he confront the mistress himself, and get the whole story? Webb’s film moves in mysterious ways at times, so it’s a good thing Turner handles the slinky aspects of Thomas’ plight.

The kid loves one woman, feels loyal to another, and then develops an absolute crush on a third. It’s a good thing the always savvy speaking W.F. is around to drop pearls of wisdom on him when he needs a jumpstart.

Turner and Bridges carry the best scenes in the film. Two guys, one young and another much older, debating the how many layers of the onion you have to peel off in order to find love, before you risk being hurt. Whether it’s Thomas’ writing (which has been rejected by his publishing house boss father) or his troubles with women, Gerald is there to help.

While Brosnan, Beckinsale, and Nixon acquit themselves quite nicely, The Only Living Boy in New York doesn’t make such a huge dent without Bridges’ work. In a supporting role, he cuts an intriguing character from a haze of familiarity, which lends the big third act reveal a much needed dose of power.

That’s right, folks. Webb and Loeb’s late surge of a plot reveal really brought the film home. Without it, the few story threads are left dangling and great performances would be wasted. When you watch the trailer for The Only Living Boy in New York, it’s easy to just appreciate the slick features, fast talking, and roll with it for 90 minutes. The final twenty minutes adds a layer of gravitas to the story that took it to another level for me.

I’ll admit that I am a sucker for stories that throw troubled writers, the pursuit of love, and the bristled setting of New York into a blender. This film isn’t perfect by any means, but it makes you feel a lot and the acting is phenomenal.

2017 has been a year of unlikely heartfelt comedy/drama servings leaving unexpected dents in our hearts. Films like Band Aid, The Big Sick, and now The Only Living Boy in New York. You could string them together and create an anthology of heartbreak blues.

When I left Webb’s film, I wanted to spend more time with these characters. I wanted another chapter in a film that will most likely not get a sequel. You know a film is great when the immediate effect is palpable.

If you like well-written and extremely well acted films about the dire pursuit of love and all its miseries, check out The Only Living Boy in New York. Yes, Simon and Garfunkel’s song is appropriately used.

‘A Ghost Story’ is a passionate exploration on life after death

Slow moving yet ambitious take on grief

I’ll warn you up front, ladies and gentlemen: A Ghost Story is a slow moving yet ambitious piece of filmmaking. It takes aims at what we leave behind after death, and the idea that one could get the answers in death that he couldn’t find in life.

David Lowery recruits his Ain’t Them Bodies Saints team of Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara to portray C and M, a couple that go through a traumatic process when one of them dies unexpectedly. Without a ton of dialogue or moving parts, Lowery directs from his own script a tale about the many ways people grieve. Affleck’s C returns to his house as a ghost, complete with the white sheet and eye holes, to look after his wife and the home that he left. There are certain things that C needs to know before he can pass on, and they don’t have to do with M alone.

The great thing about ghost stories is the countless ways it allows a filmmaker to be inventive with. Once he returns as a ghost, C’s story line doesn’t have to deal in a pure linear form. He can visit his wife in the present, or go back to one of their existential fights, or battles over whether to move or stay in a home that carries special meaning to C. Continue reading “‘A Ghost Story’ is a passionate exploration on life after death”

Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ throttles and informs

The World War II film delivers big time with an unconventional perspective.

The method of war is simple: soldiers are stationed to protect the civilians back in their homeland. But what if the civilians had to rescue the soldiers?

Welcome to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, a vivid film that takes an unconventional route to telling its incredible tale. Nolan gives the World War II genre a fresh entry by tapping into a true story soaked in survival, grit, and miraculous efforts from a different angle.

In the depths of World War II, the British and French armies had their backs against the wall. Whether it was through the air with fighter jets or on the ground with artillery fire, Germany was closing a door real fast-and this particular battle came to a head on the beaches of Dunkirk, France. Continue reading “Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ throttles and informs”

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’: A potent summer blockbuster

Here’s a sequel that works and adds a soulful touch to the franchise

Paranoia and fear: deadly tools when placed in the wrong situation with two different species staring down the barrel of their fates.

Matt Reeves' latest epic saga in the world of apes and humans-War for the Planet of the Apes-shows the once innocent Caesar (breathtaking work from Andy Serkis) in a vengeful light. The humans have taken out thousands of apes, and target Caesar's camp next. An unimaginable loss at the hands of a Colonel (Woody Harrelson) with his own brand of vengeance planned.

This sets Caesar on a mission to end the human fight against the apes, but at what cost? When your actions carry repercussions that affects not only your family, but your species, how does one react to tragedy?

The most flavorful thing about the Apes trilogy is that along with the gorgeously shot action sequences, Reaves (who helms the new Batman solo film) pauses to ask important questions about the sinister ability of humanity. When threatened by something they haven't seen before or do not understand, their reaction comes from a place of fear and paranoia. Continue reading “‘War for the Planet of the Apes’: A potent summer blockbuster”

‘Baby Driver’ shoots to thrill, delivering a never better Jon Hamm

Edgar Wright makes Tarantino’s mouth water with his latest feature

Baby. Buddy. Griff. Bats. Darling. Meet a few of the players of writer/director Edgar Wright's new cinematic action jazz club, Baby Driver. This is the most thrilling movie I've seen in months.

And I'm not talking about ordinary heart stopping attacks of the visual variety, but ridiculously hair raising off your arm and neck entertainment convolutions that can pop the corn.

Carrying a wicked soundtrack that Quentin Tarantino may even buy, Wright has delivered the perfect summer movie: a world where you don't have to think too much, but must enjoy a lot. A car chase flick that only slows down long enough to fill the gas tank-before burning rubber into a plot that is simple to spin and easy to enjoy.

Ansel Elgort (Fault in Our Stars, Divergent series) breaks out the James Dean cool as Baby, the best driver in town who happens to be the wheels behind Doc's (Kevin Spacey) criminal operation of thieves. The suicide squad includes Jon Hamm's Buddy, Jamie Foxx's Bats, Eiza Gonzalez's Darling, and Jon Bernthal's Griff. Continue reading “‘Baby Driver’ shoots to thrill, delivering a never better Jon Hamm”

‘The Big Sick’: The feel good laugh out comedy event of 2017

The realistic version of While You Were Sleeping, but with more edge and humor.

It’s a rare occurrence for a film to come out of nowhere and blow me away. The Big Sick, featuring a magnetic performance from Kumail Nanjiani, did just that when I screened it last month.

Here is a film that will make you laugh out loud at its raunchy yet inspired humor and then make you feel emotion that you weren’t expecting. The best parts of this film are the ones you won’t see coming, because this may be the only time you hear me put “feel good” and “raunchy comedy” in the same sentence, but The Big Sick fits that bill to a tee. This is the best movie I’ve seen this year, and to think, I almost skipped it to do laundry at home.

Nanjiani (who also co-wrote the screenplay) is the star of this flick that is marketed as “an awkward love story”, and he is resonates unexpectedly as an aspiring comic in Chicago trying to make it to the next level. Kumail (yes, he keeps the same name in the film) goes on a stage for five minutes in a small nightclub with his fellow comics(played by real comedian Bo Burnham and SNL star, Aidy Bryant), and they are all vying for spots in a Montreal comedy festival. Continue reading “‘The Big Sick’: The feel good laugh out comedy event of 2017”

‘The Hero’ is an easy riding swan song for Sam Elliott

At long last, the actor gets a juicy lead role to work with.

How many chances do we get to experience a rebirth? When death finally does stare you down, do you look in the mirror and ask: Am I ready to go or do I have unfinished business? Brett Haley’s soulful ode to legacy-The Hero-places one of the most iconic voices of film center stage at long last.

Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott) has a lot of unfinished business. An aging actor known for one legendary performance, Hayden yearns for the days where he was walking across the desert with a cowboy hat on, dispensing justice. These days, all Lee dispenses is the smoke from the weed he smokes with former co-star and friend, Jeremy (Nick Offerman), and advertising words for barbecue sauce through a microphone in a recording studio.

What Lee wants to do is get one last role, or anything with substance. When he is given a fatal diagnosis, Lee attempts to reconnect with his daughter (Krysten Ritter, making a lot out of a little), but finds a new wave of energy when he meets Charlotte (Laura Prepon, the beauty from Orange Is The New Black). In a way, Charlotte puts the flame back in Lee’s pilot light, and the film rides a comfortable wave as Lee confronts his mortality, his legacy, and what he will leave behind. Continue reading “‘The Hero’ is an easy riding swan song for Sam Elliott”