Is love really lovelier, as the song goes, the second time around? In The Face of Love, an uneven but polished and emotionally compelling love story starring Annette Bening and Ed Harris, the question gets a challenging new slant. She’s a lonely, grief-stricken widow named Nikki whose husband of 30 perfect years (Mr. Harris) dies in a boating accident on a vacation in Mexico, leaving a once-vibrant woman fragile, despondent and unable to find much interest in life. Anyone who knows what real loss is will identify with what she’s going through, and Ms. Bening does a touching, masterful job of conveying real emotional pain.
A good cast enlivens a labored farce called Girl Most Likely, another holdover from last year’s Toronto International Film Festival that is surfacing at last with the hope of cheering up forlorn filmgoers escaping the summer heat. It fails, thanks to the dubious combined efforts of co-directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman and a deadly screenplay by Michelle Morgan that is not funny, just pointless.
Kristen Wiig, the former Saturday Night Live star who wrote and starred in the vile, gross-out Bridesmaids, plays a hopeless, hapless underachiever named Imogene, who deserted the tacky Jersey shore for the literary lights of Manhattan, found mild success as a writer, then lost her fiancé and her job at a magazine in the same day.
If you’re an actor looking for work, it helps to have a girlfriend who is a writer. So Paul Dano, whose dour, limburger face is matched only by a charisma that is the screen equivalent of road kill, is a lucky fellow. His roommate and offscreen squeeze, Zoe Kazan, has provided them both with the screenplay to Ruby Sparks, an engaging if lightweight romcom directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the team that hit pay dirt with Little Miss Sunshine. This one passes the time pleasantly enough, but history isn’t likely to repeat itself. The script is breezy, but neither of the two leads have the heft or charm to carry an entire feature-length film—separately or together. I kept wondering, while glancing at my watch, what it would have been like with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, or James Wolk and anybody.
The morose Mr. Dano plays Calvin Weir-Fields, a shy novelist in horn-rimmed glasses who wrote a best-seller at 19 but now suffers painfully from writer’s block. Well, naturally; it’s ten years later, and he doesn’t even own a computer. So emotionally underdeveloped that his shrink (welcome back, Elliot Gould) gives him a fuzzy stuffed toy to cuddle with on the couch while he’s being analyzed, Calvin is awkward, socially inept and unable to get laid. So along comes a girl he calls Ruby Sparks, who falls in love with him faster than he can speed-dial his own cell phone. There’s just one snag. She exists only in his imagination.
The Last Critic
Here’s a reason to leave the Broadway scene and fly across country: For one night only, L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse will host a staged reading of Frank Capra‘s holiday classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. The 1946 film–listed as one of AFI’s “100 Best American Films Ever Made”– is such a Christmas staple that it’s hard to imagine someone other than Jimmy Stewart playing the hapless and kindhearted banker George Bailey. But the production really nailed it with their casting, announced today:New York native Peter “My Face is Smiling But My Eyebrows Tell a Darker Story” Gallagher.
Seeing Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right—seeing her face register a spectrum of feeling as if it were the evening news—I was more than ever convinced that she is one of the greatest ever American film actors. And it’s all in that magnificent face, which is arguably the face of our Read More
With temperatures breaking into the high 80s this weekend — cold front! — you might think of avoiding movie theaters to enjoy a sweltering afternoon outside. Mistake. Head to the AC and bring with you this handy guide to the new releases.
What’s the story: Otherwise known as the 3D animated movie that Read More
On the afternoon of Tuesday, April 27, Annette Bening got into the lunch buffet line at the home of Christine Schwarzman, wife of the Blackstone Group’s Steve Schwarzman. “I have to say, I have been to some nice places, but I don’t think I have ever seen anything like this,” said Ms. Bening, dressed in Read More
Running time 114 minutes
Written and directed by Diane English
Starring Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing
Diane English’s The Women, from her own screenplay, is supposedly based on George Cukor’s 1939 adaptation by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin of Clare Boothe Luce’s 1936 Broadway play. Both Read More
Marc Forster’s Finding Neverland, from a screenplay by David Magee, based on the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan, arrives almost accidentally in New York on the 100th anniversary of the London stage spectacle of Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, by James M. Barrie (1860-1937). Barrie lived through the Victorian, Read More
Beauty, talent and charisma are such rare commodities these days that we are lucky to find an actress with even one of them. In Being Julia, Annette Bening miraculously displays all three at the same time. Am I losing it, or is she a 21st-century movie miracle? Is this the good turtle soup, or merely Read More