"Trumbo." "Truth." "Spotlight." Films about writers, in varied personae, continue to fill movie screens in the last quarter of the year. Of those three, "Spotlight" is the best, followed by "Truth" and then by "Trumbo." All three tell stories on screen that their books or newspapers or scripts began in earnest.
There's a sub-genre of films that tell the stories of folks in a family. There's another sub-genre of films that purport to be holiday films. When those two subs marry, they create a film like "Love the Coopers," which tells a family's story at Christmastime.
English professor Jim Bennett has a dual personality. By day, he lectures university students in an animated way on the modern novel. By night, he debases himself and everything he professes to believe by repeatedly wagering every dollar he has and all he can borrow, up to a quarter million, until he's stripped bare. He embraces peril and courts disaster.
George Clooney made a noble effort to tell the story of soldier/scholars sent by President Franklin Roosevelt to save the culture of Europe near the end of World War II. A noble effort, however, does not immediately translate to a fine film.
The time: 1961; the setting: smoky, folky bar in New York City. The player: Llewyn Davis, a folk singer with a penchant toward being irresponsible, arrogant and needy. Think of the recent title character of "Francis Ha," and you have Llewyn Davis only 50 years ago and with a guitar.
Director Robert Zemeckis’ “Flight” embeds a complex character study in the tragic story of a serious airplane accident. This multifaceted approach makes it not only a rich film but also an important one because SouthJet Air pilot Captain Whip Whitaker is an alcoholic, meaning he’s in denial, lying to everyone, including himself.
Director Ben Affleck’s “Argo” has every element an entertaining film could want: terrific cinematography, solid sound design, a clever script, breathtaking pacing, brilliant editing, and superb acting—all in the service of a dynamite story based on real, mind-boggling events. It begins with the 1979 storming of the US embassy compound in Tehran.
Impressively executed and immensely entertaining, The Artist charts the fading career of silent film star George Valentin juxtaposed with the rise of new discovery Peppy Miller. In a strong supporting role native St. Louisan John Goodman plays director Al Zimmer. This gorgeous black-and-white homage to silent film takes place in Hollywood from 1927 to 1931, the transition to talkies.
As 2011 ends, the best films deserve applause. Here are the films for which I welcome repeat viewings.
The 20th annual St. Louis International Film Festival begins spectacularly Thursday, November 10th at the Tivoli with The Artist. Impressively executed and immensely entertaining, The Artist charts the fading career of silent film star George Valentin juxtaposed with the rise of Peppy Miller. St. Louisan John Goodman plays film director Zimmer in this gorgeous, masterful black-and-white homage to silent film.