‘Concussion’ tries so hard not to be a “football film” it compromises the most compelling aspects of its story
Director F. Gary Gray’s provocative film soars when it sticks to the vibe and pulse of the nascent “gangsta rap” movement. When it delves into serious drama, however, the results are decidedly mixed. Ultimately, the incendiary music and infectious defiance push ‘Straight Outta Compton’ over the top.
Brent Hodge and Derik Murray’s new documentary, ‘I Am Chris Farley,’ tries to illuminate the comedian’s meteoric rise and fall, as well as to understand his delicate psyche. Mostly, it’s another chance to re-live some of Farley’s best bits, which is just enough to recommend this otherwise disappointing chat-fest.
As a humble film critic, one can’t pretend to guess at the theory of everything in respect to the physical forces of the Universe. However, there may be a theory of everything concerning biopics, since, as The Theory of Everything demonstrates, they can’t help but all seem exactly the same. Surely, the uniform execution of tropes in storytelling, production, and acting across disparate movies point to the presence of some law underlying reality. Either that or biopics just make people really, really lazy.
If you can imagine Nixon resigning in the middle of All the President’s Men, with the remainder of the film dedicated to Woodward and Bernstein fighting their editor, you have a pretty good idea how Kill the Messenger plays out. It’s not a bad film, but it is a sloppy one that squanders a firecracker start and a terrific performance from Jeremy Renner. As Gary Webb ponders whether to publish his inflammatory story, he is advised that, “Some stories are just too true to tell.” Such is the case with some scripts, which, in their admirable haste to relate the truth, forget the requirements of compelling storytelling. If you want to find the heart of Webb’s story, you’ll have to dig a little deeper.
If all the world’s stage, then surely some players crave the spotlight more than others. And if ever there was a player, it was Errol Flynn. The Last of Robin Hood tells the twisted story of three people who will do almost anything for fame. That each must settle for infamy is one of the juicy, yet unexplored ironies in a movie that doesn’t know which story it wants to tell. By taking an evenhanded and humanistic approach to such salacious subject matter, the filmmakers have effectively squashed any possibility for tawdry fun. Instead, we get a bone-dry historical drama that skimps on the history and bypasses the drama entirely.
John Krokidas’ film debut Kill Your Darlings follows the turbulent University years of famed American beat writers Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), Lucien Carr (Dane DeHann) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster). Set in the early 1940s at Columbia University and on the streets of New York City, the film centers around the murder of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) and the months that led up to it.