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This is Where I Leave You

After her husband dies, Hilary Altman (played by Jane Fonda) insists the family carry out his dying wish and gather together for seven days for the observance of Shiva. Hilary’s a published author and a psychologist, so she thinks nothing of sharing (and publishing) in full the private and often intimate experiences of her children – oldest Paul (by Corey Stoll), who works in the family business; his wife Linda (by Debra Monk) who is desperate to have a baby; Judd (by Jason Bateman) who’s still in shock after his own relationship has suffered a serious blow; Wendy (by Tina Fey) possibly the most sensible of the siblings and Phillip (by Adam Driver), who’s the youngest but although he’s adult age, is not yet grown up. There are visitors all week too, including Wendy’s high school sweetheart Horry (by Timothy Oliphant), who still lives opposite with his mother, Philip’s fiancé Tracey (by Connie Britton) and Penny (by Rose Byrne) a local girl who’s always been in love with Judd. The family must endure this week of total togetherness, stay sane and somehow keep their relationships intact.

This movie’s best feature is the relationships it depicts – all are fascinating and worthy of exploration. Each Altman sibling has a love-hate relationship with the others and with Hilary, their mother. They all recount experiences from the past and consider them through their now adult eyes. As the over-sharing Hilary, Jane Fonda is better than I’ve seen her for ages. Jason Bateman is good here too, as is Tina Fey as Wendy and Dax Shephard as Judd’s boss, Wade. I enjoyed Rose Byrne’s performance too, she is lovely. Overall, this has its good points, but it is too long. Some of the scenes don’t have to be quite as laboured, but – having said that – the whole thing does combine into a sensible piece. Jonathan Tropper wrote the screen adaptation from his own 2009 novel “This is Where I Leave You”. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be funny or not, I didn’t find it so – but I thought it was fine.

Made in 2014. Directed by Shawn Levy

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Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Movies

 

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Disconnect

Ben Boyd (played by Jonah Bobo) is a typically reclusive teenager who struggles to fit in at his high school and spends most of his time on his music or online. His father, Rich (by Jason Bateman) is a busy lawyer and his mother, Lydia (by Hope Davis) tries her best to maintain a relationship with her son, although she can see he’s a bit of a misfit. Ben’s sister, Abby (by Haley Ramm), just treats him as “her annoying brother” most of the time. Unbeknown to the family, two of Ben’s classmates, Jason (by Colin Ford) and Frye (by Aviad Bernstein), make him the target of their cruel on-line bullying campaign. Across town, Cindy Hull (by Paula Patton) is desperate for attention from her husband Derek (by Alexander Skarsgård), but he’s so caught up in his money worries and bringing in enough to support the household and his online gambling habit, that he hasn’t noticed Cindy for some time. For companionship, she turns to an on-line social networking group and a friend she chats with regularly. Go-getting reporter, Nina Dunham (by Andrea Riseborough), is writing a piece about on-line prostitution and exploitation, so she involves young performer Kyle (by Max Thieriot) in her story then a dangerous attempt to rescue him. These seemingly isolated situations suddenly become intertwined when things start to go wrong, trusts are broken and safety is put at risk as the impact of online interactions starts to take hold on the people involved. Is this what has become of our world as people try to live in the increasingly connected, disconnected society we find ourselves in?

This movie is a well-made, thought provoking thriller made all the better as it creates several realistic scenarios about the impact of online interactions, social networking pitfalls and general actions when people attempt to fulfil their social needs online. It proposes the likelihood of dangerous consequences, often quite unforseen and certainly unintended, when things start to go wrong and humans take action based on their interpretation of and interaction with the digital world. It’s interesting and a little scary, given it could easily all be happening right now. A couple’s personal data is leaked online; a teenager is driven to suicide through bullying; a do-gooder thinks a prostitute needs to be “saved”; a teenager is traumatised and frightened through the actions of his distant and cruel father who thinks he’s doing the best he can to bring up his son. The best work done here is by Jonah Bobo as the tormented teenager Ben, Max Thieriot  is great as “entertainer” Kyle and Alexander Skarsgård portrays multi-layered Derek very well – but there are lots of great performances. Overall, it’s good, well done everyone.

Made in 2012. Directed by Henry Alex Rubin

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Movies

 

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Up in the Air

Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) is a consultant who hires himself out to organisations who want to fire their employees but don’t want to actually deliver the news themselves. He’s good at this work – he has long experience and he’s well practiced in dealing with the range of reactions he gets from the recipients of this hard message. He does his job by travelling allover the US, he spends 322 days a year out of town, flying (always first class) with the same airline, staying in the same hotel chain, renting the same type of car etc. He does have a home, but it is is sparse and cold as he is rarely there. The same could be said for his personal life. He lives out of a suitcase and likes it that way – it allows him to meet women wherever he goes. In one city, he meets Alex (by Vera Farmiga) who he is attracted to because she lives a similar lifestyle and puts as much kudos as he does on hotel services, frequent flyer points, bonus gifts and super corporate rates available to such business travellers. Ryan has a fairly settled life until the day his boss (by Jason Bateman) hires ambitious 23-year-old graduate Natalie (by Anna Kendrick) who wants to streamline the “firing process” and Ryan with it, which causes Ryan’s entire life to undergo major change.

This movie is clever, smart and elegantly made. George Clooney’s performance is good and he works well with Anna Kendrick. In fact, all the supporting roles are realistically played and I found I really was transported into the lives of the people where I felt their pain at being sacked. There’s real emotion in Ryan’s own life also – not only does he have to deal with the ongoing stress in his job, but he has his own life ups and downs also.

I liked this movie a lot.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Movies

 

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