Over the course of the past week I caught five new films in theaters, at preview screenings or in regular release: Ron Howard’s “Cinderella Man”, Pawel Pawlikowski’s “My Summer of Love”, Don Argott’s “Rock School”, Jim Jarmusch’s “Broken Flowers” and Catherine Hardwicke’s “Lords of Dogtown”.
The winner of the week? Without a doubt, Jarmusch’s latest, “Broken Flowers”…
A deserving award winner at the recent Cannes Film Festival, the new Jarmusch film is sharply written — filled with detailed characters and witty moments — offering numerous terrific performances. Its Jarmusch’s best film in years and another winning role for Bill Murray, similar to some of his recent performances, yet distinctive and noteworthy.
“My Summer of Love” also features standout acting, from a stunning pair of newcomers: Nathalie Press and Emily Blunt. Meanwhile “Lords of Dogtown” showcases the work of a group of kids who achieved acclaim in smaller indie movies, standouts include Victor Rasuk (known as Victor Vargas) and Emile Hirsch (seen in “The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys”). While certainly not as compelling as the terrific “Dogtown and Z-Boys”, “Lords” is a lot of fun. The new doc “Rock School” conversely is not as good as Linklater’s ultra-entertaining “School of Rock” — the real-life Paul Green is just not as likable as the endearing rock teacher portrayed by Jack Black — but those kids! The real kids in the doc really do rock, and the post screening concert made the evening an incredible experience.
Finally, “Cinderella Man” is pretty good. For the first hour and 15 minutes or so, its one of the best movies to come out of Hollywood in a long time, unfortunately though it just doesn’t hold up, losing steam and becoming way too sappy and typical in the second half. That said, Ron Howard has done some of his best work in years, the same goes for Russell Crowe.