Jason Sudeikis (Race, Mother’s Day) and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3, The Gift) are talented actors who’ve covered a multitude of genries, and now with Tumbledown the pair try their hand with a Maine set comedy/drama.
Hannah (Rebecca Hall) continues to struggle over the passing of husband Hunter Miles, a gone too soon singer/songwriter whose sole album has garnered its share of acclaim. Andrew (Jason Sudeikis), a New York based writer/professor with an amiable flair for sarcasm, travels to Maine in hopes of convincing Hannah to talk about Hunter (he’s starting a book based on Hunter’s life). Unfortunately, this city slicker is a fish out of water in Hannah’s woodsy, small town world, and she immediately shuts down his proposal.But after a few awkward stops and starts, Hannah gradually lets Andrew into her life, thereby giving him a deeper picture of what truly made Miles tick. The journalist side of Hunter, however, questions if Hunter’s tragic fall during an outdoors excursion was in fact a suicide, and this investigation may cause a rift with Hannah and her family (Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play her parents). Dianna Agron co-stars as Andrew’s girlfriend Finley, with Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike) playing a power company employee who’s essentially Hannah’s friend with benefits.
Though we’ve seen the story of mismatched pairs who eventually form a unique bond, Tumbledown has its share of intriguing elements. Director Sean Me2shaw and screenwriter Desiree Van Til, who grew up in Maine, infuse the film with a real sense of place. A well written dinner scene between Hannah and Andrew, as the pair briefly share past stories, sets a solid foundation for what’s to come, and even though the movie does have its predictable moments, Tumbledown is blessed with solid performances by an invested ensemble. Musician Damien Jurado was also tasked with crafting music inspired by Hunter Miles, and the songs featured in the film are worth a listen, especially if you’re a fan of the melodic and melancholic work of Bon Iver and Nick Drake.
Special features on the Blu-ray include “The Making of Tumbledown,” which features interviews with the cast and crew, and “The Music Behind Tumbledown,” which contains a look at Damien Jurado’s approach to his Tumbledown compositions.
For more on Tumbledown, check out my discussion of the film on CinemAddicts in the media bar below (starting at 55:00).
If you’re a fan of jazz, you know that the music form can be moving and captivating, pulling you in with the flow, but it can also be equally maddening and chaotic in its attempts to reach genius. In many ways, Miles Ahead fits both extremes.
Don Cheadle embodies jazz legend Miles Davis, a legend we’re introduced to as a somewhat broken man. He’s hidden himself away from the music world for five years and has more or less shut out the rest of the world as well, while he attempts to reclaim his status with a much in-demand new album. He lives in an unkempt apartment, hobbles around while self-medicating and can only be bothered by the outside world when his latest check fails to show up.
Enter English writer Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor), who has been knocking at Davis door hoping to score an interview with no success. But when Miles needs to confront his label about their pulling of funds and the appearance of Brill, who claims he was sent from Rolling Stone on behalf of the label, he finally relents so long as Brill will drive him to the label.
What follows is a meeting that sets up all the players in the film, as the label is chomping at the bit to get his new music, shady agent Harper Hamilton (Michael Stuhlbarg) attempts to curry favor for his young artist (Keith Stanfield) and Brill is revealed to have stretched the truth a bit hoping to get a story, while Davis shows us one of several times in the film where he’s willing to fight for what’s his.
From there, the film starts to alternate between present day and Davis‘ past. We see him meeting and falling in love with stunning dancer Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi) and how their romance propelled him to some of his most creative heights. But the past also uncovers Davis as an insecure man, unwilling to allow Taylor to have her own career and increasingly paranoid in the wake of his own infidelity and drug use. Ultimately, it’s both of Davis fallacies that led to the couple’s split. Meanwhile, in present day, Davis continued association with Brill and also unwillingly with Hamilton and his artist leads to a stolen tape caper filled with action, gunplay and a surprisingly heartbreaking at first yet interesting resolution.
The transitions between modern day and past are done cleverly at times, but the plot device ultimately proved maddening as well. Yes, you get the hint of what’s going on in the past, but the shifts between time periods occasionally feel as though it is stopping the momentum of the story.
However, that being said, Cheadle’s portrayal of Davis as a hardened, flawed man with an unrelenting set of principles when it came to his music is one that should be remembered come award season, and Corinealdi is captivating for many of the moments she’s on screen as well. The story may not work for everyone, focusing so much time on the caper of the stolen tape, but the payoff is grand and the film itself gives just enough, though maybe not the full insight into the genius of Miles Davis.
The Jungle Book was the runaway winner at this weekend’s box office, as it took in $60.8 million and easily bested the competition. The debut of The Huntsman: Winter’s War was highly disappointing, as it managed just $20.1 million. In comparison, the 2012 feature Snow White and the Hunstman made $56.2 million in its opening weekend.
Here’s this weekend’s top 10:
1. The Jungle Book – $60.8 million
2. The Huntsman: Winter’s War – With a budget of $115 million and an all star cast (Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Chris Hemsworth), the film performed below expectations, even though it finished second. $20.1 million
3. Barbershop: The Next Cut – $1.8 million
4. Zootopia – $6.6 million
5. The Boss – $6 million and with a worldwide total of $57.7 million, the film should at least turn a slight profit (its budget was $29 million). Still not a resounding hit for Melissa McCarthy.
6. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – $5.5 million and its current take of $319.5 million is simply disappointing
7. Criminal – $3.1 million
8. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – $2.1 million and to date it’s made $55.5 domestically
9. Compadres – $1.35 million
10. Eye in the Sky – Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul military thriller has taken in a respectable $14.9 million domestically. Not bad for a low budget indie film. $1.2 million for the weekend.
A Hologram for the King features Tom Hanks as Alan Clay, an American businessman sent to Saudi Arabia to close a huge business deal that could conceivably change his life.
Alan, whose passion for his job has waned over the years thanks to age and his understandable inability to shake a past tragedy, must sell this holographic teleconferencing system technology to the Saudi government or face huge repercussions with his tenuous job. Most importantly, Alan is trying to make enough money to pay for his daughter Kit’s (Tracey Fairaway) college education. Divorced, saddled with a lack of funds and traveling to parts unknown, Alan is definitely behind the eight ball.
When he and his team arrive in Saudi Arabia, their planned meetings are repeatedly delayed and they are given a rather cold reception. Whether Alan will ever get a real sit-down to propose his deal takes on Waiting for Godot like proportions, and such a frustrating process leaves our protagonist in a permanent holding state. To add more problems to his plate, Alan discovers a lump on his back, and his failed attempt at removing his cyst leads to a fateful encounter with Zahra (Sarita Choudhury), an insightful doctor who brings much needed light to Alan’s journey. Alexander Black co-stars as Yousef, a taxi driver who serves as Alan’s daily transport and tour guide.
Based on Dave Eggers’ novel, A Hologram for the King is directed by Tom Tykwer, who previously worked with Hanks on Cloud Atlas. Tykwer, who infused frenetic energy in Run Lola Run and a touch of surrealism with Heaven, brings a down to earth subtlety to this film, and it’s his most restrained film to date. Tykwer lets Tom Hanks’ performance do most of the talking, as we are invested in Alan’s universal journey from the opening moments. A Hologram for the King is essentially a fish out of water experience that’s set in the desert, and watching Alan slowly warming up to Saudi Arabia living is a pleasure to watch.
Though not as audacious as Tykwer’s previous work, A Hologram for the King isn’t built as a showy vehicle for any of the participants involved. Instead, we are treated with a very human story about a man who’s trying to rediscover his footing in the world. Choudhury and Black also lend wonderful supporting work, giving the film an extra level of depth. Sometimes a simple story told well is all you need, and A Hologram for the King (R, 97 minutes) is an absolute charmer.
To hear more about A Hologram for the King, which opens today in select theaters, check out this week’s CinemAddicts podcast.
In 50 years plus of filmmaking, Brian De Palma has crafted successful studio driven projects (Scarface, Mission: Impossible, The Untouchables) and has also managed to chase his singular creative passions (Sisters, Dressed to Kill, Femme Fatale). A visual master who grew up loving Alfred Hitchcock and French New Wave films, De Palma’s movies, whether you love them or not, are never boring (even The Bonfire of the Vanities had its moments).
Directed by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, De Palma is a documentary that delves into the filmmaker’s inspiring and often controversial creative life. Detractors of his work complain about the eye catching violence and superficial sheen that’s supposedly infused in his movies, while others praise his technical skill and pure passion for cinema (De Palma’s oft-used phrased is “the camera lies 24 frames per second”).
De Palma hits select theaters June 10. Check out the trailer below and tell us what you think!!