Naomi Watts

Several different movies, crashing together; in other words, it’s a multi-car pile-up

                                    The Book of Henry is not a Wes Anderson movie.

What if veteran comic book writer Gregg Hurwitz wrote a superhero origin story about a single mom, combined it with a treacly family drama about a cancer-stricken kid, and crossed that with a darkly comedic satire about cinematic depictions of gifted children? Well, you don’t have to guess what if, because this movie is playing in movie theaters now, although I’m guessing not for long. It may, however, play forever in the rotation of classic film fiascos. 

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Film Review: Demolition

by Carrie Kahn on April 8, 2016

Vallée’s newest meditation on grief could finally mean Oscar for Gyllenhaal

New friends Karen (Naomi Watts) and Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) find themselves in a tense situation.

New friends Karen (Naomi Watts) and Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) find themselves in a tense situation at a function honoring Davis’s recently deceased wife.

How do we process sudden loss? Is there a right or wrong way to grieve, and how can we keep grief from overwhelming us? These are the weighty questions director Jean-Marc Vallée continues to contemplate in his somewhat uneven but emotionally arresting new picture Demolition. While not as strong as either Wild or Dallas Buyers Club, Vallée’s previous two films that explored death and grief, Demolition nonetheless is worth recommending based both on its raw and unique way of depicting the grieving process, and also on the strength of Jake Gyllenhaal’s exceptional performance as a man left shell-shocked by the unexpected death of his wife. [read the whole post]

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It’s Gen X versus the hipsters in Baumbach’s uneven new film

Cornelia (Naomi Watts) and Josh (Ben Stiller) have a late night discussion.

Writer/director Noah Baumbach, who is 45, and whose girlfriend and frequent muse Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) is 31, obviously knows a thing or two about Gen X/millennial conflict, and it’s hard not to wonder how much his real life experiences shaped While We’re Young, his new picture exploring the generational divide. While intellectually clever and undeniably funny at times, Baumbach’s film is not without its problems.

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Film Review: Birdman

by Carrie Kahn on October 24, 2014

What We Talk About When We Talk About Birdman

Riggan (Michael Keaton) is shadowed by his alter ego, BIRDMAN!

Riggan (Michael Keaton) is shadowed by his alter ego, BIRDMAN!

Much of the recent press coverage of writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s new film Birdman has focused on the film’s meta aspects concerning the casting of actor Michael Keaton in the lead role as a former big screen superhero trying to restart his career. Keaton himself famously played Batman in two films over 20 years ago, only to find his star fading as new actors assumed the role. In interviews, Keaton has been asked repeatedly about being cast in a role so close to his own reality, and he has steadfastly distanced himself from speculating on any deeper meaning of the coincidence. I think it’s important, then, to look at the film on its own terms, and not just as some sort of reflection of Keaton’s career arc. And, indeed, the movie is one of the fall season’s best so far – a highly entertaining, wickedly funny, brilliant black comedy.

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Film Review: St. Vincent

by Gordon Elgart on October 17, 2014

Evidently, a movie can be both completely predictable and completely enjoyable at the same time.

Melissa McCarthy sets up Bill Murray for the best line of the entire movie.

Melissa McCarthy sets up Bill Murray for the best line of the entire movie.

Before seeing St. Vincent, the debut feature from Theodore Melfi, I knew very little about it. I knew that Bill Murray plays a cranky old man who lives next door to a single mother, and he develops a relationship with this woman’s young son. That’s it. I knew it was an indie movie, so I predicted to anyone who’d listen that the movie would definitely have a scene featuring an indie rock song punctuating an important uplifting moment. About this, I was wrong. The song by The National, “Start a War,” is used to punctuate an emotionally sad moment. How predictable was the rest of the film, you ask?

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We’ve got three final spotlights from the 37th Mill Valley Film Festival, which closed Sunday night after ten days of showcasing dozens of fresh and exciting titles. Festival highlights, photos, and videos are available at: http://mvff.com. We’ll see you at the Fest next year!

Wild
(USA 2014, 120 min)

Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) at the start of her long and often arduous journey.

Director Jean-Mark Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club) and writer Nick Hornby have turned Cheryl Strayed’s exceedingly popular memoir Wild into one of the best pictures of the year. Reese Witherspoon gives perhaps the fiercest performance of her career as Strayed, who, in the mid-1990s, hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) solo as a way to cope with several losses in her life. A powerful meditation on grief, healing, strength, and redemption, Vallée’s picture benefits enormously from the emotionally raw performances of is two lead actresses. Laura Dern, as Strayed’s mother Bobbi, seen in flashbacks, is devastating as a young mother whose capacity for hope and love is beyond measure. Shot on location at various points along the PCT, Yves Bélanger’s cinematography is breathtaking, and fittingly accentuates the emotional complexity of Strayed’s story.

Release Date:
– Opens nationwide on December 5th

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Film Review: Diana

November 1, 2013

Diana loves Hasnat, and we don’t care German director Oliver Hirschbiegel has made a puzzling contribution to the oeuvre of films about Diana, the late Princess of Wales. His new film, simply titled Diana, is very narrowly focused. Set during the last two years of Diana’s life, the picture highlights Diana’s (Naomi Watts) relationship with […]

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Film Review: “J. Edgar”

November 10, 2011

starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, Ken Howard, Jeffrey Donovan, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Lucas, Denis O’Hare, Stephen Root, Ed Westwick, Miles Fisher written by: Dustin Lance Black directed by: Clint Eastwood MPAA: Rated R for brief strong language

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