Sundance Highs And Lows
Ms. Schwarzbaum and Mr. Gleiberman offer their takes on the hits and misses from this year's film festival
Eighteen years after Before Sunrise and nine after Before Sunset, it’s heaven to reunite with the talky lovers (now older and wiser) created by Ethan Hawke, the divine Julie Delpy, and filmmaker Richard Linklater.
This deeply felt dramatic reconstruction of the last day in the life of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a young African-American man killed by a cop’s bullet, is all the more emotionally and politically jolting for being based on real events that rocked the Bay Area in 2009.
Kill Your Darlings:
Sexually alive and yearning, Daniel Radcliffe is fearless as the college-age Allen Ginsberg, not yet a poet or out as a gay man and drawn into an anarchic circle of artsy friends involved in drugs, jazz, literature — and murder. Also magnetic: Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, and Michael C. Hall.
Romantic plots don’t come much more clichéd than this one, about how a beautiful, talented, blah blah blah British exchange student (Felicity Jones) messes up the harmony of one American family, just by batting her big eyes.
The Look of Love
Steve Coogan plays Paul Raymond, a real-life Larry Flynt-like British porn impresario who died in 2008. He was stinking rich and indulged by women, but he couldn’t sustain any of his relationships, he spoiled his daughter to death, and…who cares, in such an inert, wardrobe-obsessed cautionary tale?
Amanda Seyfried does something memorable: She brings the star of Deep Throat to life as a human being, revealing her light and her sadness. This haunting biopic lures us into the days of porno chic, then pulls the wool from our eyes.
The Spetacular Now:
Miles Teller, who’s like Elvis reincarnated as a tall, brainy high school dude, plays a lothario who coasts through life on charm, sweetness and nonstop drinking. It’s the rare authentic teen flick, about a guy hooked on the buzzy now of youth.
In this paradigm-shifting documentary, director Robert Stone interviews environmentalists who were anti–nuclear power — then opened their eyes and changed their minds. What we learn about the real aftermaths of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima is wonderfully counterintuitive.
Ashton Kutcher, in an unsweetened killer-shrewd performance, stars as Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, and you’re riveted by what an honest portrait it is. The techno/boardroom drama stings, but it lacks the volcanic humanity of The Social Network.
Interior. Leather Bar.:
James Franco codirected this attempt to re-create 40 minutes of footage cut out of William Friedkin’s Cruising. Graphic sex scenes alternate with discussions that sound like something out of a Queer Theory seminar. The one thing you truly get an interior look at is Franco’s vanity.