After a grating start, the movie, directed by Peter Odiorne from a script by Gail Gilchriest ("My Dog Skip"), finds its way into warmer, more likable territory. That is, until it flies off the rails in a third act so devoid of logic it could have been concocted on the moon.
Still, Hanratty, who evokes Lindsay Lohan in her Disney heyday, manages to hold together the bubbly silliness. She deftly works her way through such a wide array of behaviors and comic bits (her run-in with an archaic pay phone is a stitch) that it's actually sort of amazing. Brooke Shields is also on hand in a nice turn as Whitney's equitable mom.
— Gary Goldstein
"The Greening of Whitney Brown." MPAA Rating: PG for brief mild language. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. At Vintage Cinemas Exchange 8, Glendale.
Danish-born actress and filmmaker Dina Rosenmeier attempts to square her mother Jessie's seemingly obsessive need to aid the world's underprivileged children — while regularly leaving her own six kids back home — in the stirring, if inconclusive documentary "A Journey in My Mother's Footsteps."
Jessie Rosenmeier, 75 when this film was made, is dubbed here "The Mother Teresa of Modern Times" for her four-decade devotion to the welfare and international adoption of children in such countries as Kenya, Haiti, Korea and, especially, India. Dina travels across the last, revisiting the orphanages and foundations in Kolkata, Chennai, New Delhi and Mumbai where Jessie made her mark. En route, the writer-director explores her prospects for motherhood and even a potential adoption, which furthers her understanding of Jessie's humanitarian impulses.
Jessie, who joins Dina on-camera in Mumbai, explains how her passion for helping the destitute began after her third child died at birth, which connects at least a few dots. But the deeper implications — Jessie's desire for escape, her volunteerism's true emotional and financial toll on her family — are largely skirted here, even throughout Dina's various chats with her supportive father.
That none of Dina's siblings is interviewed here about their extraordinary mother may speak volumes.
— Gary Goldstein
"A Journey in My Mother's Footsteps." No MPAA rating. In English and Danish with English subtitles. At Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.
"Killing Bono" whips up a frenzied mix of musical jealousy, wishful stardom and farcical lucklessness into a movie too slippery to hold onto. Inspired by the memoir of Irish music journalist Neil McCormick, who as an aspiring musician watched his schoolmates become U2 while he toiled away in failing bands, the movie grafts onto Neil's story the dramatic notion that he prevented his guitar-playing brother Ivan from being part of the original U2 lineup in order to keep the sibs together.
That familial twist of fate is heartbreaking enough without screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (who penned the much-better band saga "The Commitments") piling on rock-'n'-roll clichés. It doesn't help matters that director Nick Hamm subscribes to the over-excitedly gestural school of guiding actors, which saps any potential loser charm from leads Ben Barnes (as Neil) and Robert Sheehan (Ivan) and instead makes them seem like spinning tops.
The quiet marvel, though, is Martin McCann's portrayal of Paul/Bono, which only confirms how much suggestion trumps imitation when playing a familiar icon.
— Robert Abele
"Killing Bono." MPAA rating: R for pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use. Running time: 1 hour, 54 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood and Laemmle's Town Center 5, Encino.
The new documentary "Limelight" convincingly makes the case that one-time New York night-life impresario Peter Gatien was wrongly accused of involvement with the sale of drugs from his string of clubs in the 1990s. But the film, directed by Billy Corben and produced by Gatien's daughter Jen, also feels wildly one-sided and ultimately myopic in its focus on the man's legal woes.
The rise of pansexual, hedonistic club culture is a tantalizing backdrop to the story, and the most startling moments in "Limelight" are the home videos of clubbing in its prime, with enormous crowds packed shoulder-to-shoulder onto Gatien's dance floors. In the end though, the film is simply an exhibit for the defense, an attempt at exoneration, and doesn't even really attempt to give a full portrait of Gatien as a person.
It never looks to answer why, amid all his protestations of what hard work it was running nightclubs (and from the look of it, it was), he remained in the business. Was there anything in it for him besides money? Was he drawn to the glamour, did he like being the distant ringleader, enjoy seeing others have a good time? If all you know about Peter Gatien going in to "Limelight" is that he is a nightclub owner with legal issues, that's about all you'll know coming out.
— Mark Olsen