4 new movie reviews in brief: Room, Rock the Kasbah, Burnt, Remember
CBC's Eli Glasner cuts through clutter and tells you which new releases are worth your time
Brie Larson and young Jacob Tremblay give amazing performances in this intimate film. Working on a script from original author Emma Donoghue, director Lenny Abrahamson gives us a child's view of living in captivity in a single room the size of a shed. It's young Jack's perspective that turns a familiar situation inside out.
Room is an interesting contradiction: a claustrophobic film to watch but — looking at it through Jack's eyes — filled with space and wonder. Larson is strong, but brittle; there's an emotional intimacy in her that can't be faked. Tremblay is so convincing it's frightening.
While most of these stories end with a definite resolution, part of what makes Room so fascinating is the notion that escape is only one of many hurdles former captives face. Now if only the film gave William H. Macy a decent part.
— 4 out of 5 stars
Rock the Kasbah
Groundhog Day. Lost in Translation. Rushmore. Ghostbusters. Even the first Garfield film. All these movies made better use of Bill Murray than the misguided, misdirected Rock the Kasbah.
Director Barry Levinson takes us to Afghanistan to tell the true-life tale of the young Pashtun woman who competed as a contestant on the Afghan Star reality show. But Salima's bravery is just the background for this tepid comedy about Richie Lanz, a music manager past his prime. If the presence of Kate Hudson makes you think of Almost Famous — stop, you're mistaken. Levinson's aiming for something grittier than his earlier film Good Morning Vietnam, but the results are safe and stilted.
The movie's few moments of mirth come from the rare occasions Murray is given freedom to stray, including his delivery of a killer cover of Smoke on the Water for bemused Afghan warriors.
— 2 out of 5 stars
A gourmet version of a familiar Hollywood recipe, Burnt finds Bradley Cooper and his immaculately groomed chin stubble cast as Adam, a broken but genius chef in London searching for redemption as well as his third Michelin star.
The cinematography transforms the slabs of beef and onion sprouts of his upscale menu into modern art installations worthy of a museum. Directed by August: Osage County's John Wells, Burnt transports us into the kitchen of the high-end restaurant where Adam bullies and berates his staff into a quivering crew churning out perfection.
Leather jacket-clad Cooper tooling like a Top Gun stand-in can be hard to swallow, but Burnt's excellent supporting cast, including Sienna Miller and Daniel Bruhl, elevate the film to cinematic comfort food of the highest order.
— 3.5 out of 5 stars
At his best director, Atom Egoyan's films feature a clinical, cool gaze. He's drawn to relationships rich in conflict, but the emotions can be buried deep. This approach clashes with Remember, a movie that takes place in a fog of memory as a character battling dementia is determined to carry out one last promise.
Christopher Plummer takes on the trope of an elderly man losing his faculties with as much dignity as possible. He plays Zev, a Holocaust survivor following the instruction of his nursing home friend Max (the great Martin Landau), who provides him details for tracking down the former Nazi commander who annihilated their families. Borrowing from the film Memento, the film relies heavily on a laboured device: in this case the repeated rereading of Max's letter to Zev explaining his mission.
There are a few standout, thrilling moments — say, the confrontation with the son of a Nazi collector, or a poignant scene of bewilderment in a Walmart. Though the conclusion may leave you gasping, it's Plummer's workmanlike approach that is the true hero here.
— 3 out of 5 stars