Jonathan Kiefer



Payback

Payback

When I found out what The Debt was really about, I greeted it with a sense of relief. Here’s what this movie is not: some hectoring documentary about Congress figuring out its financial super committee.  After a strong showing at film festivals, and chatter that it may be a 2011 awards contender, The Debt, starring […]

Where art thou?

Where art thou?

Its ending reportedly tampered with since Sundance, the indie-scented dysfunctional-family comedy Our Idiot Brother winds up flattering its complacent middle-class audience, but not for any real reason—there’s no medicine going down with this sugar. To try and imagine what the Weinstein Company might have worried about is to find oneself quoting the movie’s own doofus parolee hero: “You know what? You know what? Wow.”

Definitely less

Definitely less

By modern movie standards, the polite action comedy of bumbling criminals seems awfully quaint. Might some refreshment be had from the rude slacker comedy of utterly imbecilic criminals? Aziz Anasari (left) and Jesse Eisenberg star in the chuckle-worthy bank heist flick 30 Minutes or Less. Not from this one. Given the actual 2003 incident in […]

For starters

For starters

As a title, Beginners sounds a note of humility, albeit self-consciously. Certainly that makes it the right name for writer-director Mike Mills’ touching, autobiographical new film. In it, a commitment-phobic graphic artist is supportive but bewildered when his father comes out of the closet at 75—just in time to face a terminal illness.

Out to pasture

Out to pasture

Once in a while, even the most tried and true narrative formula needs to be repackaged. Or so it seemed to the people at DreamWorks, who must’ve said while brainstorming Cowboys & Aliens, “So how about this: a thing meets another thing, but not the other thing you might expect! It’s so crazy, it might work!”

Larry Crowne; PG-13, 99 minutes; Regal Downtown Mall 6

Larry Crowne; PG-13, 99 minutes; Regal Downtown Mall 6

This must begin with a shameful confession, which is that the trailer for Larry Crowne made me want to see some horrible fate befall Julia Roberts. Look, I know it’s terrible. I barely even know how to hurt another person, let alone a balloon animal like the one Roberts plays in Larry Crowne. But if movies starring Tom Hanks have taught me anything, they have taught me that it’s important to do the right thing.

Summer movie preview

Summer movie preview

Regular readers of this column know that Super 8 left me cold. That film had been billed as one of the good ones. But that’s in a world—to borrow the blockbuster-trailer parlance—where “good” means predictably “shallow and sentimental.” As a grudging habitue and tiny-paycheck-collecting parasite of Hollywood excess, I know all too well that the […]

The Hangover Part II; R, 201 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

The Hangover Part II; R, 201 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

 It’s not the worst, as group-of-dudes comedy sequels go. We’re not talking Ghostbusters II here. But of course we weren’t talking Ghostbusters to begin with. We’re talking The Hangover. So this is a little weird: It’s like expecting more and expecting less at the same time. Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis take the […]

Bridesmaids; R, 120 minutes; Regal Downtown Mall 6

Bridesmaids; R, 120 minutes; Regal Downtown Mall 6

Bridesmaids arrives at a grim moment in the history of filmed entertainment, when people are actually asking whether women can be funny in American movies—and whether big studios will let them. At such a low moment, there may be no choice but for women to reclaim the gross and raunchy comedy of bodily functions formerly […]

Your Highness; R, 102 minutes; Regal Seminole Square 4

Your Highness; R, 102 minutes; Regal Seminole Square 4

The director David Gordon Green started in tastefully muted art-house fodder. Then he made Pineapple Express. With his latest film, Your Highness, now he seems to be imitating the sort of Mel Brooks movies that make you wonder what happened to Mel Brooks. In the old-world stoner comedy Your Highness, Danny McBride (right) plays the […]