May 2, 2013 |
At 48, Keanu Reeves is twice the age of his nubile costar Adelaide Clemens in "Generation Um... " and the generation gap might explain why they spend the film staring at each other blankly. Reeves plays John, a driver for an escort service who works nights shuttling Mia (Clemens), a placid baby-doll blond, and her raging cokehead partner, Violet (Bojana Novakovic, often pants-less). The women aren't John's friends, exactly - they alternate between pestering him and pleasuring him in a grotty bathroom, both of which make writer-director Mark Mann's feature debut sound more exciting than it is. After an inert first act in which John eats cupcakes and watches strangers, he finally leaps to action by stealing a video camera.
December 26, 2013 |
"I'm just truth telling," says Meryl Streep's Violet, the gorgon mother at the center of "August: Osage County," and in that same spirit I have to confess that (a) I never saw this Pulitzer Prize-winning vehicle by Tracy Letts when it was on stage and (b) nothing about this film version makes me regret that choice. Despite a pedigree that includes five Tonys in addition to that Pulitzer and a cast of gifted actors that is a full dozen deep, "August: Osage County" does nothing but disappoint, with all the talent involved simply underlining how uninvolving this material is. If anything, the cinematic "August" feels related to that branch of reality TV where dysfunctional characters, whether active or passive, make a public display of their wretched lives.
April 9, 2013 |
"Smokefall" appears to be Noah Haidle's version of "Our Town. " Nearly every American playwright has one, but most keep them hidden in desk drawers. This addition to the Thornton Wilder 2.0 collection, however, has been honored with an attentive production, directed by Anne Kauffman at South Coast Repertory (in a shared world premiere with Chicago's Goodman Theatre). Those with a penchant for homespun elegy playfully whipped up may enjoy "Smokefall," but the work is really a collection of derivative themes in search of a fleshed-out drama.
April 27, 2012 |
The romantic comedy "The Five-Year Engagement," starring Emily Blunt and Jason Segel, tackles the messy business of love in a time when commitment can be career-ending for one of the better halves. Since it is mostly told from a fairly evolved guy's point of view, it sounds so promising, so fresh, you want to root for these kids to get it right - not just the couple, but the filmmakers. Both have their moments, though not enough to keep the audience, or the couple, engaged for anything close to five years, which this two-hour film can sometimes feel like.
January 12, 1986 |
NATIVES & STRANGERS by Louisa Dawkins (Houghton Mifflin: $18.95). A sweeping African saga set in Tanganyika and Kenya from the '50s to the '70s, is the fascinating story of Marietta Hamilton's quest for identity in post-Colonial times. It opens with her restless mother, a widow who manages guest-houses for British visitors, leaving for a holiday in England.
HOME & GARDEN
April 16, 2011 |
For proof that parenthood does change everything, just look at the Mar Vista garden of landscape designer Elizabeth Low. The birth of daughter Violet, now 2, inspired her to consider the question: How would the arrival of a child change the landscape — and not just in a metaphorical sense? Her answer will be evident April 30, when the garden opens to the public as part of the Mar Vista Green Gardens Showcase. What tour-goers will see is a project that started two years ago, when Low and her husband, David Cash, purchased their home.