As evidenced by her resonant drama Fill The Void, writer/director Rama Burshtein knows how to craft first rate storytelling with an impending marriage as its backdrop. With The Wedding Plan we follow the misadventures of Michal (a standout performance from Noa Koler), a strong minded and stubborn woman who is determined to get married within 30 days even if a groom doesn’t show up!
Michal’s insistence that a marriage will take place is rooted in her religious faith (she’s an Orthodox Jew) that God will provide her a husband and ease her loneliness. Though her love for God is commendable, her goal of getting hitched even after her fiance (Erez Drigues) admits he’s not in love is a bit unrealistic. As evidenced by her career (she owns a mobile petting zoo), Michal is a refreshingly independent thinker, and she goes on a series of blind dates to find her Mr. Right. Oz Zehavi plays a pop star who unexpectedly enters Michal’s life during her dilemma and Amos Tamam is the owner of the wedding banquet who helps Michal the hopeful celebration.
Along with Koler’s winning work as the unpredictable and candid Michal, The Wedding Plan is also powered by an excellent screenplay from Burshtein Even though it’s a romantic comedy, the film doesn’t go for cheap laughs or devolve into a saccharine mess. Burshtein finds light and a bit of darkness in every day situations, and it’s the dialogue that Koler has with her family and these individually distinct suitors that makes The Wedding Plan a feature that’s worth a look.
Now out on DVD via Lionsgate, The Wedding Plan’s special features include a photo gallery. My only complaint is that a Burshtein audio commentary or a featurette would have been welcome, especially since The Wedding Plan is simply a wonderful film.
On the latest episode of CinemAddicts we preview the September releases Mother!, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, It, and American Assassin.
One smaller scale feature that’s worth a look is Rebel in the Rye, a biopic on Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger (NicholasHoult). Kevin Spacey is Whit Burnett, the writing teacher who had a huge influence on Salinger’s life and ZoeyDeutch plays Salinger’s girlfriend Oona O’Neil (she would later marry Charlie Chaplin).
Directed by Danny Strong, Rebel in the Rye is based on the 2011 biography J.D. Salinger: A Life and it’s powered by a first rate performance by Hoult as the reclusive scribe. Strong has a ton of events (Salinger’s college life, Oona romance, WWII years) to fit into a 106 minute running time and he does it seamlessly. Fans of Salinger’s work looking for a bit more insight into the writer, or movie buffs who love narratives centered on the art of writing (the Salinger and Burnett relationship is the film’s strongest aspect) should definitely check out Rebel in the Rye.
Rebel In The Rye opens in select theaters September 8 via IFC Films. Check out this month’s episode of CinemAddicts and feel free to comment below!
As far as hockey movies go, it will be hard to top 2011’s Goon (unless you throw Slap Shot into the mix). Director Jay Baruchel, who co-wrote and starred in the original, takes on the challenging task of ensuring the franchise doesn’t have a sophomore slum with Goon: Last of the Enforcers. Thankfully, he succeeds with flying colors.
Team first and fearless “goon” Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is back, and during the story’s first act he’s named team captain. Doug’s joy is short-lived after a bloody confrontation with hockey terror Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell) leads to his temporary retirement. With his wife Eva (Alison Pill) expecting their first baby, Doug lands a dead end desk job to pay the bills.
When Anders joins The Highlanders, Doug’s team goes on a losing streak mainly thanks to Anders’ divisive and violent nature. With The Highlanders at their lowest ebb, Doug may have a shot to rejoin the squad once he gets back into playing shape. Helping Doug get back into hockey fighting shape is his old nemesis Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber). Baruchel also returns as our protagonist’s vulgar best buddy Pat, with Elisha Cuthbert starring as Eva’s crass but lovable BFF Mary.
Goon: Last of the Enforcers predictably doesn’t take any of the proceedings any seriously, and Baruchel unabashedly puts a ton of sport movie tropes into his narrative. Everyone looks like they’re having a great time, and once again Sean William Scottis winning as the ultimately kindhearted enforcer.
The ensemble of Goon: Last of the Enforcers have the best comedic moments in the film, and a big part of the comedy’s success lies in letting the supporting cast have their respective moments in the sun (T.J. Miller nearly steals the show as an obnoxious sportscaster).
Goon: Last of the Enforcers opens in theaters and Digital HD September 1st, and if you’re looking for a winning comedy with a ton of laughs and a bit of heart (not to mention a plethora of fisticuffs), then this movie should be right up your alley.
In a summer filled with big budget bombs, it’s refreshing to come across a film that relies on story and emotion rather than super powers and CGI to connect with a crowd. One such standout in the latter moments of summer is Wind River, a dark murder mystery as far from light and shiny as you can get.
The film centers on the death of a young Native American woman named Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) on the desolate wintery landscape of the Wind River reservation in Wyoming. Discovered by stoic local tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), the case starts to unravel deeper emotional woes in the primarily Native American community. It doesn’t take much to realize that this was no case of being ill prepared for the climate, as the woman had wounds consistent with an assault and had run barefoot for miles before succumbing to the natural effects of exposure. The loss clearly affects Lambert, whose bond to the woman is just the first layer peeled back on a deeper sorrow that has permanently affected his life.
With a snowstorm fast approaching, the FBI is called in and a junior agent named Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) appears from the Las Vegas office, a true fish-out-of-water ill prepared not only for the elements outdoors, but also for the world she just walked into. She serves the viewpoint of the audience, plopped into a land filled with loss and grief all around with people dealing with little options who mostly just try to survive. If that message wasn’t clear enough, the local reservation police chief (Graham Greene) drives that home with platitudes like, “This isn’t a land of waiting for back up. This is the land of you’re on your own” and talk of driving 50 miles to go five miles.
Banner is a young agent with passion for the case, who quickly realizes she’s in over her head both with the culture and how the bureaucratic system is set up to let Natalie become another statistic. So she turns to Lambert for assistance, with the tracker having his own reasons for joining the search. Their pairing starts off a little abrasive, but there’s a trust earned there over time and a comfort level where Lambert eventually reveals why he is so drawn to the case.
While writer/director Taylor Sheridan doesn’t really present the viewer with many twists and turns in the case and the actual reveal is not overly surprising as things are laid out, he does deliver a slow burn of a film building heightened suspense to the climactic final battle and a cathartic payoff that feels carefully crafted and well earned.
Sheridan also delves into the crushing loss of youth and hope in a brutal land and the introspection of how to deal with that. There’s an excellent supporting turn by Gil Birmingham as Natalie’s grieving father and a brief but pivotal appearance by Jon Bernthal as Natalie’s significant other, but the real heart of this movie is Renner’s Lambert, looking at the case as a possibility for a redemption that may never come, and Olsen, whose passion, empathy and survival instinct help in the fight to find the truth and get justice in the case.
The director also uses the barren but beautiful landscape to help build the vibe, much like he did with fellow Western-set dramas Sicario and Hell or High Water. Add in a Nick Cave / Warren Ellis score that works effective well, and Wind River is one of the year’s more rewarding watches and worth seeking out.
You could argue that director Steven Soderbergh enjoyed his finest moments on the big screen with heist flicks — Ocean’s 11 and its sequels as well as Out of Sight — so it makes sense that the director ended his self-imposed retirement from films with the new heist flick, Logan Lucky.
However, this film offers a fresh take on the genre with the key players neither slick (Ocean’s 11) or slyly charming (Out of Sight). Instead, Logan Lucky centers on a down-on-their-luck family viewing their somewhat simple ruse as their only course of action. Leading this heist is Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), a former local football star and struggling divorced father whose past war injury has led to his recent unemployment. Jimmy had been working fixing the sinkholes beneath the race track at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he discovered how the venue’s money was distributed. With his ex-wife (Katie Holmes) set to move his daughter out of state, Jimmy’s in need of some fast cash to remedy a strained family situation.
For the heist, he enlists a ragtag crew made up of fellow family members and childhood friends. Adam Driver is Clyde Logan, Jimmy’s somewhat dim and family curse-obsessed younger brother who lost his arm in the same war accident as Jimmy. The appendage also serves as a comedic device at times bringing levity to the film. Jimmy sister Mellie (Riley Keough) is a streetwise hillbilly hottie playing a key role in the heist, while the rest of his crew features another family led by the incarcerated explosives expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) and his hard-partying brothers Fish and Sam (Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson).
Included in the plan is a prison break for Bang, with the criminal returning to his confines before anyone realizes he’s left and the expected twists implemented by Jimmy, leading to a somewhat surprising outcome even by some of those involved. Though building the characters onscreen as players who are punching above their weight class who somehow win against all odds, the heist that Jimmy has planned out is actually more involved than initially seen onscreen, but part of the fun is seeing Soderbergh revisit the key details of what actually went down.
If there is a flaw in the film and the plan, it’s the arrival of a hard-nosed investigator played by Hilary Swank late in the film. While the final act reveals all that had to happen for the plan to succeed and centers on whether they will actually get away with it, it feels as though the film didn’t know where to end and the introduction of Swank’s character leading to the final payoff was a bit rushed. Still, Logan Lucky does feature a stellar cast (with smaller roles for Seth McFarlane, Dwight Yoakam, Katherine Waterston and Sebastian Stan among others), some light humor and enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.
Steven Soderbergh went on a self-imposed hiatus from directing feature films (his last effort was 2013’s Side Effects), but now he’s back with the August 17 release Logan Lucky. The project once again features a collaboration with Channing Tatum (who starred in Side Effects and Magic Mike), and it features a return of the heist element featured in Soderbergh’sOcean Eleven films. This time out,two brothers (Adam Driver,Tatum) who attempt to abscond with money from a NASCAR race in North Carolina. Riley Keough, who delivered a standout performance in last year’s American Honey, and a scene stealing Daniel Craig co-star.
Coming out August 4 is Columbus, an indie film that centers on a Korean American named Jin (John Cho) who travels to Columbus, Indiana after his architecture scholar father slips into a coma. Haley Lu Richardson gives her finest performance to date as the youth who strikes up a friendship with Jin. Reminiscent of such walking and talking films like Before Sunrise and Lost in Translation, Columbus is a filled with beautiful visual compositions from up and coming filmmaker Kogonada and excellent work from the two leads.
Also covered on the latest episode of CinemAddicts is Detroit and the recent Blu-ray release Black Butterfly. Take a listen below for our August movie preview!!