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click to enlarge Why Stop Now

Why Stop Now (R)

IFC Films

Vampiric Jesse Eisenberg is a piano prodigy on the way to a make-or-break audition. But before he gets there, he has to drop his crackhead mama (Melissa Leo) off at rehab. Why he couldn't do this on a less important day isn't clear, but all plots need contrivances. Like before they check in, mom's gotta be high as eff to get admitted. This leads them to the house of her dealer Sprinkles (the always hilarious Tracy Morgan, who really shouldn't have to play a drug dealer anymore) and, from there, on a journey for drugs, leading to viewer overdose on forced quirkiness. Why Stop Now definitely has that indie-film sheen of manufactured zaniness that's more tiresome than fun. The highlight of the movie is Morgan, who's always worth the price of any admission, but don't stop what you're doing to watch this now. Maybe wait until tomorrow. — Louis Fowler

click to enlarge Arbitrage

Arbitrage (R)

Lionsgate (releases Dec. 21)

Written and directed by relative newcomer Nicholas Jarecki, brother of filmmakers Andrew and Eugene, Arbitrage mirrors its maker's youth and pedigree in equal parts. Starring Richard Gere, it's an elegantly photographed, lushly designed chamber piece. Gere, a financial power player, is trying to close a major deal before the feds descend on fraud charges; then he accidentally kills his mistress in a car crash, and scrambles to cover it up. Jarecki commands powerful performances from Gere and Susan Sarandon, playing his wife, but mostly keeps the supporting players running in place before the courtroom drama engine reliably revs up. Things play out with depressing predictability, and Jarecki's limited reference points really hamper the proceedings. Still, it's a joy to watch Gere and Sarandon coast their way through yet another one of these flicks. — Justin Strout

click to enlarge The Point

The Point: The Definitive Collector's Edition (G)

MVD Visual

There was a time when children's specials were able to teach important lessons without being dumbed down. There was no need to resort to in-your-face theatrics or, worse, Happy Meal tie-ins. Only the most talented of celebrities would take part, and it was a viewing experience that the entire family could rally around. Case in point, 1971's wonderful The Point, with songs from Harry Nilsson and narration by Ringo Starr. In a faraway place called The Land of Point, everyone and everything has, well, a point. When round-headed Oblio is cast off to the Pointless Forest, he comes to learn that not everything needs to have a point and, even more profound, not having a point can really make you stand out from the mediocre masses. Take it literally or take it metaphorically, but children and adults can walk away from The Point feeling proud to wallow in their non-conformity. — Louis Fowler

  • Why Stop Now, Arbitrage, The Point

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