If the films that are released by Hollywood and the larger film companies each year are the major leagues, then the films that show up at Sundance are AAA and AA prospects, looking for their slot on the roster and a shot at the majors. And Sundance is spring training.
Of the five-and-a-half films I took in (I sampled Lovesong for a half-hour while killing time between two other movies and was not sorry to walk out early), the three best ones all dealt with issues of family in emotionally complex, compelling and sometimes funny ways.
The New York Film Festival is underway and two of the biggest commercial titles of the fall are in its lineup. (They also happen to be opening this week). Neither of these lives up to the hype, though I recognize that will be a distinctly minority opinion.
I saw three films in a row today at the Toronto International Film Festival that have generated heavy buzz in the early festival days of fall - and found that none of them actually has the makings of the awards-season juggernauts they're being touted as. In other words, don't believe the hype.
As Jason Bateman's new film, The Family Fang, shows, Bateman is a filmmaker with an edge and a vision. It was one of the better films I saw during a four-movie day Tuesday at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Peter Sollett's Freeheld was, for me, the find of the day -- an intensely emotional film based on a true story that could easily win Julianne Moore her second Oscar in a row (and, perhaps, earn a nomination for the terrific Michael Shannon).
This year's edition will be remembered for putting both Jay Roach's Trumbo and James Vanderbilt's Truth in contention for the Oscar race. I saw the two films back to back on Sunday -- and they are guaranteed to both grip you and infuriate you
We take our mentors where we find them in life, though it's not always apparent who's teaching who. That's the case in Learning to Drive, a comic drama by Isabel Coixet that offers beautifully matched performances by Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley.
I tend to blow hot and cold on the films of Noah Baumbach though, truthfully, more hot than cold. But I draw the line at his collaborations with Greta Gerwig, who may be the most overrated (or at least most overemployed) actor of her generation.
A few years ago, a film historian unearthed what he claimed was the only existing copy of the first version of John Cassavetes' film, Shadows. He ultimately was told to cease and desist because he had no right to the film.
I believe comic-book movies -- and the overweening Comic-Con mentality that has consumed the Hollywood studios -- are strangling the movie industry, in part because these movies are so generic. Which may be why I enjoyed Ant-Man so much.
To my mind, Trainwreck is both a very funny movie -- and yet another example of Apatow's inability to edit himself. Like every movie he's made, this one has several big laughs -- and could easily be 20 minutes shorter.
The idea of human consciousness going mobile is an intriguing one: What if you could actually trade minds with another person? That's the premise of Self/less, a disappointing mind-transfer tale notable for its performances if not its dramaturgy.
Crying at movies seems to happen more frequently of late. A side effect of aging? Perhaps that's just the way it works. I am not embarrassed by the fact that I have this tendency more often of late. Not that I don't take grief about it from my grown sons.