Tag: Sam Rockwell


The Way, Way Back

July 28th, 2013 — 8:15am

The Way, Way Back***

The Way, Way Back- rm   It is not an easy feat to make a coming of age movie that gets grown adults to identify with a kid who is supposed to be 14 and barely looks that age. In our opinion Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (Oscar winning writers for the Descendants), the duo who wrote and directed this film (and also gave themselves small to medium acting roles in it ) successfully just did that with us. By the end we were rooting for the kid and had a tear in our eyes. Steve Carrell steps out of his comedic shoes and does a formidable job playing Trent, the intense but not quite true blue boyfriend of Pam (Toni Collette), who is taking  her son Duncan (Liam James) along with Trent’s  daughter to his summer New England beach house. Duncan is struggling with  his unhappiness with his divorced family and this summer excursion that he doesn’t want to be on. . They meet next door neighbor bubbly friendly Betty (Allison Janney) her son and daughter who become important characters in what unfolds. There are other summer people including a flirtatious housewife played by Amanda Peet. We begin to appreciate everybody’s situation and most of all how Duncan feels. The plot has a fairy tale quality but instead of a castle there is a big water ride and a bunch of grown ups who work at the water ride and befriend Duncan. The most improbable of this group is Owen  (Sam Rockwell). He is very funny, one of the supervisors of the water enterprise and immediately sensitive and insightful into the struggling Duncan. We would have to picture him as the big brother or ideal cool dad that we are sure Duncan  would have loved to have had . Owens’s girl friend is Caitlin (Maya Rudolph), a bit wiser than the others, but delightful. Two other workers in this water ride are blended into the story and are played as previously mentioned by the directors and writers of  the film. These director/writers should also get credit along with Mr. James who successfully inhabits Duncan for the sensitive depiction of the pain, suffering , determination and triumph that he projects on the screen  as he ultimately finds himself. (2013)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

Conviction

October 8th, 2010 — 7:54am


*****

Conviction sp- This is  a true story of a man convicted of a bloody murder in a Boston suburb in the 1980s .  There are witnesses who say that he told him he did it and there is blood typing evidence (this is before DNA analysis) which strongly suggests it was him. The only thing going for him is his sister who is sure that he didn’t do it. You have seen this relatively simple plot play out many times on television on Dateline, 20/20 or on similar programs. The only difference here is that you have another magnificent performance by Hillary Swank playing Betty Anne Waters who is going to take the next 18 years of her life completing High School, going to college and then law school in order to see if there is way to get her brother his freedom. You also have Sam Rockwell, playing the  brother Kenny,  in a performance that should earn him an Academy Award nomination. The screen play by Pamela Gray and  the direction by Tony Goldwyn gives us pieces of their childhood which clarifies their great devotion to each other. The struggle of Betty Ann to become a lawyer and her determination to find the evidence that would be the key to saving her brother allows us to understand this person. Her interaction with Kenny similarly provides insight into his pain and bravado.  The difficult lives of the people in the community where this happened and the very questionable actions of the police and district attorney Martha Coakley (who subsequently was defeated in the recent  US Senate race in Massachusetts to replace Kennedy)  was brought out by a stunning performance of Juliette Lewis who played one of the witnesses who recounts what really happened to make her testify against Kenny. We had the good fortune to meet at our preview screening Swank, Rockwell, Lewis, the real life Betty Anne Waters and her good friend and fellow law student Abra Rice who was well played in the movie by Minnie Driver. They confirmed that truth is stranger and at times more unbelievable than fiction. I recall reading about the well known lawyer Barry Scheck, who was depicted in this movie, and wondering about his decision to devote his career to  the Innocence Project where the new science of DNA matching is applied to old crimes. It turns out that over 250 innocent people have been freed from prison due to his efforts. There is one particular line in this film stands out in this regard as Swank as Betty Ann remarks that if Massachusetts had the death penalty her brother would have been killed before she had chance to make a case for his innocence. Swank, speaking for herself at our screening told how making this movie allowed her to understand the unique life affirming experience that these people went through. Watching this film also gave the audience the opportunity to share this journey.(2010)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Crime, Drama, History

Everybody’s Fine

January 16th, 2010 — 2:46am

Everybody's Fine* * *
Everybody’s Fine
- rm – Robert Deniro is a retired middle class blue-collar widower who would like to see his four widely dispersed grown children all sitting around a family dinner table once again. When they can’t make it for a planned get together he sets out to visit them and perhaps to try to reign them in once again. Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, and Sam Rockwell play the children. Kirk Jones directed this remake of a 1990 Italian movie ”Stanno tutti bene”. As the now lonely dad sets out from his small upstate New York home to try to find out what is really going on in the lives of his children, he finds out more about himself and how he was perceived as a father. His well meaning expectations which came out of his love for them has led them all to convey that everybody is fine in an attempt to shield him from the various true paths which their lives have taken. Deniro skillfully projects the tenderness of his character that wanted the best for his kids but must have left the real listening of them to his deceased wife. Perhaps he is a little too simple and the storyline a bit contrived but it will jerk some tears from you. It is a good movie for the holiday season, as it will ultimately make you think about your own family and what we convey to children as they are growing up as well as what we can say to them now. (2009)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

Frost/Nixon

November 7th, 2009 — 1:10am

* * * *
Frost/Nixon
– rm – This is the story of the remarkable series of TV interviews that David Frost, a TV emcee type person had with the then deposed ex-President Richard Nixon. If you recall this historical time you will relive the unique situation our country was going through. The depiction of Nixon and Frost is quite good and the actual interviews are apparently true to the transcript of the programs. They do seem to have captured the fascinating personality of the flawed President. The writer and director did take some poetic license with some of the interactions which they purport to have taken place between Frost and Nixon which disappointed us when we learned this from other sources This made the movie less significant in our minds and takes away from our valuation of the movie although it is still immensely enjoyable. 2008

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

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