‘Jersey Boys’ has wonderful music and an interesting tale

An early moment in the history of the 'Jersey Boys'
An early moment in the history of the ‘Jersey Boys’

[rating=3]Starring:  Vincent Piazza, John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Christopher Walken, Mike Doyle, Renee Marino, Kathrine Narducci, Lou Volpe, Erica Piccininni, Joey Russo and Freya Tingley
Writer(s):  Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (songs by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe)
Director(s):  Clint Eastwood

Jersey Boys is a pretty good movie.  Therein lies the problem.  It is only pretty good.  When I enter an auditorium to watch a movie directed by Clint Eastwood, I expect excellence.  He rarely disappoints.  Given that this is an adaptation of a smash-hit Broadway musical, it stood to reason that he would splash that musical across the big screen with his usual panache.  It is a good film and there are many fine aspects to it; and perhaps I’m being unfair by having had such high expectations.

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‘Stand Up Guys’ is a tale of vice and men

Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin and Al Pacino are the 'Stand Up Guys'
Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin and Al Pacino are the ‘Stand Up Guys’

[rating=2]Starring: Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Mark Margolis, Julianna Margulies, Addison Timlin
Director: Fisher Stevens
Writer: Noah Haidle

If Stand Up Guys, the new light crime noir that marks Fisher Stevens’ second stab as a feature film director, were a person, it would be a voyeur. This is most certainly a film that likes to watch.

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‘A Late Quartet’ feels a little out of tune

Mark Ivanir, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Christopher Walken make music together in 'A Late Quartet'
Mark Ivanir, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Christopher Walken make music together in ‘A Late Quartet’

[rating=2]Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir, Catherine Keener, Imogen Poots, Christopher Walken
Director(s): Yaron Zilberman
Writer(s): Seth Grossman and Yaron Zilberman

Oh what a frustrating movie A Late Quartet turns out to be. What could have been an eye-opening look at a fringe industry and the lives of the talented performers who thrive within it ends up being a by-the-numbers melodrama, despite a sterling cast.

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‘Dark Horse’ is one animal you may not want to saddle and ride

[rating=2]Starring: Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Christopher Walken, Justin Bartha, Zachary Booth and Aasif Mandvi
Director(s): Todd Solondz
Writer(s): Todd Solondz

Selma Blair stars in 'Dark Horse'
Selma Blair stars in ‘Dark Horse’

Todd Solondz directed Welcome to the DollhouseHappiness and Storytelling among others.  Now comes his latest and sadly it doesn’t live up to the films that preceded it.  Dark Horse stars Jordan Gelber and Selma Blair, and co-stars Mia Farrow, Christopher Walken, Justin Bartha, Zachary Booth and Aasif Mandvi in a dark, meandering tale.

Gelber plays “Abe” who lives at home, drives a Hummer, works in his father’s real estate business and is mad at just about everyone in his family for things they did or didn’t do for him, and things he feels they did to him.  Even though our first encounter with Abe is at a wedding where he’s trying to his on “Miranda” (Blair), he’s nearly impossible to like almost immediately.  Worse, any chance we had of his character being redeemed and made likeable disappears rapidly from that point forward.

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