Jeffrey Wright plays the world weary library director trying to keep the peace and hold on to some semblance of the institution’s core mission — a fact delivering, education supplementing bastion of learning, civic responsibility and civility. That’s one thing The Public absolutely nails.
We few, we not-easily-bored few, can catch “The Goldfinch” in a theater and revel in unerringly modulated performances — everybody is so softspoken that the verbal explosions have alarming violence about them — and a world we might envy, or at least resent a little bit.
Ad Astra (Latin for “To the Stars”) has dazzling eye candy and reasonable extrapolations of what near future space colonization might look like...But like too many imitation “Space Odysseys,” it flunks that most basic test applied to science fiction of this nature. It doesn’t make us care what happens, and I, for one, don’t care to see it again.
Actor turned writer-director Larry Fessenden (“Beneath,” “Wendigo”) seeks to distract us from the well-worn path by talking us to death. There are endless scenes of the doctor (David Call of “Tiny Furniture”) “teaching” the creation he names “Adam” (CLE-verrr) the fundamentals of life.
It’s a meditative movie, as one underscored with Beethoven’s solo piano pieces “Moonlight Sonata” and “Für Elise” would have to be. Brodsky isn’t the first to get across what it feels like to experience the world without hearing it, so she doesn’t dwell on that, even if it is her central thesis.
It’s those human touches that make 3 Days with Dad endurable. And if they don’t quite save it (the difference between character actors and leading actors is not skill, but charisma), they at least give it purpose, with the occasional break for levity.
The first seventeen minutes of The Sound of Silence plays like the best short film in many a year. It’s compact, provocative and thanks to the serenity of its star, Peter Sarsgaard, and fraught exhaustion of the client (Rashida Jones), draws us in pretty much instantly. It leaves us with a sense of whimsy unexplained — mystery.
Hustlers finds awkward laughs in female-on-male cruelty, loses its nerve in the late acts, but finds its heart in the finale. And it hits the “I don’t want to depend on anybody” empowerment message awfully hard.
The saving grace of “As It Was” is Gallagher’s saving grace as well, that John Lennon-meets-John Lydon voice, the songs he wrote or co-wrote that brought him back from the dead, the album that restored his place in British rock.
Much of that plays like politically correct lip service, and like much of this Downton Abbey, feels unnecessary. But that’s the thing about a cinematic feast for the eyes and the ears like this. You trim the fat, you run the risk of making the whole meal tasteless and dull.
There’s a laid back confidence to the jokes, a flippancy to his chats with corporate types, consultants and nutrition experts, and a down home connection to the interviews (a farmer cries, fast food workers decry their exploitation) with real people trapped in this onerus machine.
That points to the biggest shortcoming of Blink of an Eye. It’s a seriously unchallenging documentary, one that has no contrary voices suggesting why Waltrip never won before Earnhardt took him on (More hard luck? Nobody says so, nobody asks.) and as it lapses into hagiography, borders on “NASCAR Sanctioned” and “Official Myth-Burnishing.”
For a fan, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice is a lot more than a quick trip through her career and her life, even if it offers few deep insights into her psyche and to others might seem just an exercise in Boomer musical nostalgia.