Kam On Film: ‘Paterson,’ ‘Live By Night,’ and What’s New in Theaters

—by , January 11, 2017

Paterson

Bleecker Street Media / Amazon

Rated R for profanity

Peripatetic Bus Driver Personifies Poetry In Motion In Introspective Character Portrait

Paterson (Adam Driver) is stuck in a rut. By day, the municipal bus driver repeatedly negotiates his way around a boring route around the New Jersey city which shares his name. After hours, he hangs out at a dingy, neighborhood bar where he dutifully limits himself to just one beer per visit. Then, he heads home to be with his loving wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), and loyal bulldog, Marvin.

Writing provides Peterson his only escape from the mind-numbing monotony. Whenever he finds a little free time, he enjoys scribbling poetry into a secret notebook he always carries around. Laura wants him to make a copy of the precious journal before it gets lost or accidentally destroyed.

By comparison, she’s relatively ambitious. Despite her foreign accent and a lack of musical knowledge, she dreams of becoming a Country Western singer. So, she’s planning to purchase a guitar and to take lessons they can’t really afford. She’s lucky that her jaded husband’s just too blasé to complain.

Ostensibly resigned to his fate, unassuming blue-collar hero takes everything in stride, whether dealing with passengers, unwinding with his wife, or interacting with the colorful regulars at the local saloon. Thus unfolds Paterson, the latest offering from the legendary Jim Jarmusch (Stranger than Paradise).

The introspective character portrait relies upon the sort of dialogue-driven script for which has become a Jarmusch trademark, an adventure more concerned with character development than with events of cinematic consequence. Irrepressible Adam Driver tones down his ordinarily over-the-top act considerably, here, to play the title role of an undistinguished Average Joe.

But the picture’s charm rests in its gifted director’s ability to elevate a humble Everyman into a curiosity worthy of an audience’s contemplation. A minimalist saga serving up an unsentimental slice of working-class life.

 

Very Good (3 stars)

Running time: 118 minutes

 

 

Live By Night

Warner Brothers Pictures

Rated R for sexuality, nudity, graphic violence and pervasive profanity and ethnic slurs

Ben Affleck Directs And Stars In Latest Adaptation Of A Lehane Crime Thriller

Dennis Lehane has enjoyed phenomenal success not only as a novelist but writing directly for TV (Boardwalk Empire and The Wire). And several of his crime thrillers have been brought to the big screen, including Mystic River, Shutter Island and Gone, Baby, Gone.

In 2007, Ben Affleck directed Gone, Baby, Gone, staying behind the camera while letting his little brother, Casey, play the picture’s protagonist. But in the case of Live By Night, the latest adaptation of a Lehane best seller, Ben has opted to do double duty as both star and filmmaker.

He will likely be second-guessed for that decision, since his acting proves to be the weak link in an otherwise first-rate production. The trouble is that his limited range often leaves the audience wondering whether his character is being sincere or sarcastic.

The action unfolds in Boston at the height of Prohibition which is where we are introduced to small-time crook Joe Coughlin (Affleck). Trouble is, he’s the black sheep of a prominent Irish family whose patriarch (Brendan Gleeson) is the city’s Deputy Chief of Police.

Ignoring his father’s pleas to keep his nose clean, Joe instead escalates his reckless behavior which culminates in the deaths of a few cops in the wake of a bank robbery gone bad. After getting off with a slap on the wrist thanks to his daddy’s pulling strings, Joe entertains the overtures of a couple of bootlegging mob bosses engaged in a bloody turf war. Although Irish Albert White (Robert Glenister) appeals to Joe on the basis of their shared ethnicity, he ultimately opts to work for the Italian syndicate headed by Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone).

His assignment is to set up a rum-running operation in Tampa, Florida. As he steps off the train, he ominously falls in love at first sight with the Graciela (Zoe Saldana), a gorgeous Cuban expatriate employed by a rival. Before you can whistle the overture to West Side Story, the two marry and Joe suddenly wants out of his grisly line of work.

Of course, that proves easier said than done for the “made man,” so the body count must rise before the dust settles. Despite Ben’s wooden performance and an overstuffed production which rushes along ostensibly to cover all the ground of the 400+ page novel, Affleck appears to have another hit on his hands with this chilling adaptation of Lehane’s gruesome gangster saga.

 

Very Good (2.5 stars)

Running time: 128 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules

For movies opening January 13, 2017

 

The Bye Bye Man (PG-13 for terror, violence, sexuality, bloody images, mature themes, profanity, partial nudity and underage alcohol abuse) Haunted house horror flick about a diabolical, supernatural demon (Doug Jones) unwittingly unleashed by a trio of college students (Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount and Cressida Bonas) after they move into an old mansion located off-campus. Cast includes Faye Dunaway, Carrie-Anne Moss and Cleo King.

 

Monster Trucks (PG for action, peril, rude humor and brief scary images) Action adventure about a mischievous teen (Lucas Till) who forges an unlikely friendship with the subterranean creature that hangs out under the hood of his homemade jalopy. With Jane Levy, Rob Lowe, Barry Pepper, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan and Thomas Lennon.

 

Patriots Day (R for violence, grisly images, drug use and pervasive profanity) War on Terrorism thriller recounting the manhunt for the radical Islamists (Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze) responsible for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Co-starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin Bacon and J.K. Simmons.

 

Silence (R for disturbing violence) Adaptation of the Shusaku Endo novel of the same name, set in the 17th century, revolving around two Portuguese priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who travel to Japan to search for their missing mentor (Liam Neeson). With Ciaran Hinds, Issei Ogata and Nana Komatsu. (In English and Japanese with subtitles)

 

Sleepless (R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity) High-octane crime thriller, set in Las Vegas, revolving around a corrupt cop (Jamie Foxx) with less than 24 hours to rescue his son (Octavius J. Johnson) kidnapped by mobsters. Ensemble includes Gabrielle Union, Dermot Mulroney, Young Jeezy, T.I. and Michelle Monaghan.

 

100 Streets (Unrated) Ensemble drama chronicling the lives of a retired rugby player (Idris Elba), a drug dealer (Franz Drameh) and a struggling actor (Ken Stott) whose paths serendipitously cross. Cast includes Gemma Arterton, Ryan Gage and Tom Cullen.

 

Alone In Berlin (R for violence) Fact-based, World War II tale about a working-class, German couple (Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson) who turn against Hitler after their Nazi soldier son (Louis Hoffmann) perishes on the battlefield. Featuring Daniel Bruhl, Lars Rudolph and Uwe Preuss. (In German with subtitles)

 

Bad Kids Of Crestview Academy (R for sexuality, nudity, underage drinking and drug abuse, graphic violence and pervasive profanity) High attrition-rate sequel to Bad Kids Go To Hell finds a new group of delinquent students stuck in detention where their ranks proceed to dwindle as they fall victim to gruesome accidents one-by-one. Ensemble cast co-stars Ben Browder, Sammi Hanratty, Drake Bell, Gina Gershon and Sean Astin.

 

The Book Of Love (PG-13 for profanity, drug use and mature themes) Bittersweet drama about an introverted architect (Jason Sudeikis) grieving the death of his wife (Jessica Biel) who rebuilds his life by sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a raft with a troubled teen (Maisie Williams). With Orlando Jones, Mary Steenburgen and Paul Reiser.

 

Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray (Unrated) Meryl Streep narrates this reverential retrospective about the late Elizabeth Murray (1940-2007), a single mom who overcame considerable obstacles en route to becoming a prominent modern artist.

 

Go North (Unrated) Futuristic sci-fi set in the wake of an apocalyptic catastrophe which has left the planet without any adults. Ensemble includes Jacob Lofland, James Bloor, Sophie Kennedy Clark and Patrick Schwarzenegger (Arnold’s son).

 

Ok Jaanu (Unrated) Romance drama, set in Mumbai, about an ambitious couple (Shraddha Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapoor) forced to pick between their careers and following their hearts when work threatens to pull them apart. With Naseeruddin Shah and Leela Samson. (In Hindi with subtitles)

 

Reset (Unrated) Dance documentary chronicling the efforts of choreographer-turned-artistic director Benjamin Millepied to rejuvenate the Paris Opera Ballet. (In French and English with subtitles)


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