Charles Weinstock

Charles Weinstock

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What Maisie Knew Review


Extraordinary

Even though this drama is based on a 115-year-old novel, it feels powerfully timely today in the way it recounts events surrounding a particularly grim divorce. As we see the story through the eyes of a young girl caught between her self-involved parents, we are emotionally drawn right to the heart of the matter. Of course, it takes skilled filmmakers and a far-above-average cast to make this work.

Maisie (Aprile) is the 6-year-old daughter of fading rocker Susanna (Moore) and art dealer Beale (Coogan), whose marriage isn't dissolving quietly. As fiery arguments echo around their New York apartment, Maisie can't quite understand their anger but feels her hope fading. Sure enough, they separate, and when she goes to visit Daddy she's unnerved to discover her nanny Margo (Vanderham) is now living with him. Then Mommy marries nice-guy barman Lincoln (Skarsgard), who becomes Maisie's most reliable friend as her parents use her as a weapon in their bitter custody battle.

Directors McGeehee and Siegel (Bee Season) cleverly maintain Maisie's point of view all the way through the film, so we only see and hear things as she would. Much of what happens is never explained to her, but we get it and we understand that she probably does too. This includes the shocking irresponsibility displayed by both Susanna and Beale, who continually dump Maisie on each other as a kind of assault. And because they're preoccupied with their work, it's up to Margo and Lincoln to pick up the slack.

Continue reading: What Maisie Knew Review

Fracture Review


Weak
It is hardly a reassuring sign when one of the more interesting things in a film is not even sentient. Over the title sequence of Fracture, and in the midst of some of the duller stretches (of these there are many) we see a glittering sort of Rube Goldberg contraption, all shiny metallic tracks and carved wooden wheels, where small glass balls skitter and roll in an elaborately choreographed dance. It's a beautiful piece of elegant machinery and, one hopes, symbolic of the many complex and artfully managed plot twists to come. Instead, what we're given is Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling sleepwalking around each other as they navigate through one of the year's laziest films.

Fracture has no excuse to be so lazy, given the actors at its disposal and a setup that should have made this an easy slam-dunk. Hopkins plays Ted Crawford, an aeronautics engineer who's found out that his wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) is having an affair with police detective Rob Nunally (Billy Burke). Confronting her at home, Crawford shoots her in the head and calmly waits for the cops to arrive. When they do, it's with none other than Nunally at the lead, who's shocked and enraged at finding Jennifer in a pool of blood and Crawford standing there as though nothing had happened. After a quickly-interrupted beating from Nunally, Crawford later confesses and even waives his right to a lawyer. When it's all dropped in the lap of assistant district attorney Willy Beachum (Gosling), the case couldn't seem more airtight, which is good since Beachum can't wait to slip the bonds of lowly civil employment for a well-paying private sector job.

Continue reading: Fracture Review

Charles Weinstock

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Charles Weinstock Movies

What Maisie Knew Movie Review

What Maisie Knew Movie Review

Even though this drama is based on a 115-year-old novel, it feels powerfully timely today...

Fracture Movie Review

Fracture Movie Review

It is hardly a reassuring sign when one of the more interesting things in a...

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