Category Archives: Film Listings/Ratings

The Theory of Everything (James Marsh – 2014) B+

A straight forward biopic about the brilliant Stephen Hawking. It chronicles his life since about 1963 in Cambridge when he was diagnosed and given 2 years to live until the time he writes A Brief History of Time. We get a very good idea of how important his wife was throughout his life. She was his support, nurse, lover and biggest champion. This takes a huge toll on her of course and I love how their relationship matures, evolves , ends and remains loving. The performance of Eddie Redmayne as Hawking is perfect . He effortlessly portrays Hawking as frail, brilliant and charming even if he has to talk through a computer for half the film.

The Maze Runner (Wes Ball – 2014) B-

The core story is interesting about a group of kids stuck in the center of a large maze. The goal is to figure out how to get out. Well, there are a few more wrinkles and I am not sure I buy or understand completely what the point of the exercise was but the film was fun, kept me interested and I enjoyed watching it with the kiddos.

Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen – 2013) A-

Cate Blanchet as Jasmine is fantastic in this tight drama. Jasmine fell from Park Avenue grace when her filthy rich crook husband got put in prison. She is forced to move in with her sister and her two kids into a small one bedroom apartment in San Fransisco. This is one of those movies that is tough to categorize or describe it’s “plot”. I love those. They force you to look at each character as a real person and consider their choices, motivations and dialogue. We have the sister, her ex-husband (really good performance by Andrew Dice Clay of all people!), her current possibly-loser boyfriend and Jasmine’s husband who we see in flashbacks.

Woody Allen tells the story in two parallel lines, mostly from Jasmine’s perspective. We have the “now” with her trying to “learn computers” so that she can get her interior designer degree online. We see her dispensing advise to her sister about the kind of man she needs to date. Meanwhile, she can barely maintain her sanity as she tries to catch a new husband. We also have her flashbacks as we learn about her previous life, her husband, their extravagant lifestyle and his many affairs. I recently criticized an older Allen movie for trying to do Bergman and the attempt coming off as just an imitation. Here I see characters and dialogue that remind me of Bergman as well. However, this is unmistakably Woody Allen’s film and not an imitation. It’s funny at times but really tragic as a whole. It’s the portrait of Jasmine fading as she hopelessly tries to hold on to her prior glory with alcohol, Xanax, stories and nice clothing.

Slow West (John Maclean – 2015) A-

It took me a while to realize it and in hindsight that this is a tragic-comedy. A quirky oddball comedy set in the old west. At it’s center we have another great performance by Michael Fassbender who plays Silas, a bounty hunter helping a young fellow, Jay, find his fugitive girlfriend. On their heals is a band of outlaws meaning to capture the girlfriend (dead preferably) and collect the reward. The motives of Silas are not always clear and e is not a very scrupulous dude. This is in many ways a very traditional western. It’s bloody, rough, violent and cruel. On the other hand we have the character of Jay who seems to not belong. He is sweet, honest, kind and cannot shoot a gun.  There are lessons learned here and characters changing but the movie does not really end up how one might expect.