‘Fade’ clears; ‘Promised’ delivers; and ‘Zero’ scores – Stan Robinson
‘Fade’ rocks, ‘Promised’ comforts and ‘Zero’ thrills – Joseph J. Airdo
The following are reactions from each of AZ Weekly Entertainment Magazine's film columnists, Stan Robinson, Randy Montgomery, and Joseph J. Airdo, in an effort to generate a well-rounded overview of this weekend's new releases.
‘Any Day Now’
Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt play a gay couple who, in the 1970s, fights a biased legal system to keep custody of the abandoned mentally handicapped teenager (Isaac Leyva) that comes to live under their roof. (R - 97 minutes)
Joseph: “Any Day Now” is a harrowing yet heartbreaking motion picture that is accented by a pair of powerful performances from actors Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt. The new drama from writer/director Travis Fine demonstrates with emotional sincerity the tragic extent to which social injustices are capable of going. There are times when the film feels just a bit too sentimental but, for the most part, the movie’s message and its dramatic resonance combine to make for a piece of entertainment that is as affecting as it is important. The last scene’s many meanings are sure to stay with you. (Grade: B)
Aneurin Barnard plays an agoraphobic father who teams up with a renegade priest (James Cosmo) to save his daughter from the clutches of a gang of twisted feral children who committed an act of violence against his family years earlier. (R - 84 minutes)
Randy: A word of advice; do not see this film alone, or late at night. Especially do not see it alone, late at night as I did. I was genuinely scared walking to the car. Sometimes, the best horror films are the low budget kind and contain very little gore. Combine a few spine-chilling moments, a strong story and a very apparent social message and you have a top-notch thriller. (Grade: B
Joseph: Is “Citadel” a supernatural horror flick or one that merely finds its fright from real life? Or is really just a socio-political message movie masquerading as a horror flick? I do not even know for certain and I have watched this muddled mess that makes nary a lick of sense. But regardless of which definitive genre writer/director Ciaran Foy’s Irish import belongs in, it misleads moviegoers and makes them feel nothing but complete and utter disappointment over having to watch something that starts off so excruciatingly slow before eventually evolving into something devoid of any surprises whatsoever. (Grade: F)
'Not Fade Away'
John Magaro plays a young man who, in 1964 New Jersey, decides to form a rock band with his best friends after the Rolling Stones appear on television. (R – 112 minutes)
Stan: Writer/director David Chase took me on a nicely paced trip down memory lane and my high school years when I discovered The Rolling Stones, which is my favorite all-time Rock & Roll band to this day. John Magaro as the lead very convincingly presents the spirit of the will to succeed against all odds, no matter what one’s chosen direction in life may be. (Grade: C+)
Randy: ‘Not Fade Away’ does a great job drawing you into the story. It does such a great job, you feel as if you spend an eternity with the cast. The writing was likeable, the performances were strong all around, the production and costume design are nomination worthy and the music perfectly fit the film. Unfortunately, the pacing is slow, so you begin to lose interest, despite all of the positives. (Grade: C+)
Joseph: “Not Fade Away” is an average movie at best, hampered by an attempt to cram too much story into one motion picture that eventually arrives at a very bizarre and dreamlike conclusion. But its leading actor John Magaro – a.k.a. the young man who several years ago sang a song about having enough joy to go around in an exceptional Christmas commercial for Walmart and Coca-Cola – is anything but average, giving one of the year's absolute finest performances. Moreover, writer/director David Chase – of “The Sopranos” fame – has an undeniable knack for creating authentic atmospheres, saturating the audience's senses with a completely convincing time and place. (Grade: C)
Matt Damon plays a corporate salesman, who is sent, with his partner (Frances McDormand), to close a key rural town in his company's expansion plans. What seems like an easy job becomes complicated by a grassroots campaign led by another man (John Krasinski). (R - 106 minutes)
Stan: Providing an inside look at just what big business will do short of crossing that all important moral line to secure a very lucrative business agreement, co-writers and stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski deliver an insightful story that moves at an easy going pace. This second teaming of Matt Damon and director Gus Van Sant since the Oscar® winning ‘Good Will Hunting’ (1997), he again presents the ‘Van Sant’ touch of insight character driven storytelling I experienced working on ‘To Die For’ (1995). Frances McDormand is priceless as the partner and earned my ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’ for my ‘Best Movies of 2012’. (Grade: B)
Randy: Even with Matt Damon in the title role, this preachy, anti-corporate film probably won’t draw large crowds to the multiplex. Damon turns in a strong performance, as does co-stars Frances McDormand, Rosemarie Dewitt and Hal Holbrook. You can’t help but think what you would do if offered a similar proposition. To me, that money looked pretty good. (Grade: B)
Joseph: Watching “Promised Land” is a pleasurable experience - perhaps too pleasurable. The new drama - which was directed by Gus Vant Sant and written by its two stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski - is such an old-fashioned film that it completely bypasses the positive qualities for which it was likely aiming and feels too feeble for its message to have any real or lasting impact on moviegoers. This is a story that should get the audience all riled up with complex and conflicting emotions but, instead, it comforts viewers with its extremely altruistic intentions, carrying no more weight than a feather. (Grade: C)
'Zero Dark Thirty'
Chris Pratt, Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton play an elite team of intelligence and military operatives who, for more than a decade, have been working in secret across the globe, devoting themselves to a single goal – find and eliminate Osama bin Laden. (R – 157 minutes)
Stan: The ‘Seal Team 6’ stories as presented by various mediums, provides that exterior viewpoint. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ takes an inside look at the decision making process from the in-the-field fact finding process to the Commander-in-Chief of the United States, Oscar® winning director Kathryn Bigelow continues her ‘signature’ blend of intense drama/character establishment at the start, and mesmerizing action sequences at just the right moments, to tell a story with a lot heart and soul. Jessica Chastain’s performance earned ‘Best Actress in a Leading Role’ for my ‘Best Movies of 2012’. (Grade: B+)
Randy: The build-up to the eventual capture of Osama bin Laden takes some time and maybe some patience, but going along for the ride with Director Kathryn Bigelow and star Jessica Chastain is half the journey. The little known details about who was really responsible for gathering the information and the ultimate capture are fascinating information. Look for a winner in multiple categories, including Best Director and Best Picture at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. (Grade: A)
Joseph: The final hour of “Zero Dark Thirty” is earth-shatteringly intense. Unfortunately, the motion picture's preceding 90 minutes – essentially the entire runtime of most other movies in and of themselves – are deliberately paced, extremely technical and action-starved. Those are by no means bad qualities but they certainly have the potential to disappoint viewers who may have been expecting something similar to director Kathryn Bigelow's “The Hurt Locker.” The good news is, though, that those who allow the filmmaker to take them on the challenging journey are rewarded with not only an electrifying finale but also an impression of intellectual stimulation. (Grade: B)