About 11 hours ago I wrote that I was planning on seeing five films today. It’s now 7:55 pm and three have been bagged — Jim Kohlber‘s The Music Never Stopped, J. C. Chandor‘s Margin Call and Alison Ellwood and Alex Gibney‘s Magic Trip. I have to be at the Eccles at 9:15 pm for a screening of Tom McCarthy‘s Win Win, and then I’ll be cabbing to the Egyptian for an 11:30 pm showing of Jason Eisener‘s Hobo With A Shotgun.
I got stalled late this afternoon by a personal/business matter, and that killed my writing time. I also have to post two more items before leaving for the Eccles, but every year I come to realization that I’m good for two or three films a day, tops, if I want to keep up with the filing. Five feels industrious, but nothing happens on the site.
My twitter-sized reactions so far:
(a) The Music Never Stopped is an intelligent but tiresome estranged-father-and-son drama blended with a ’60s classic rock soundtrack (not “laid on” but integrated into the story) with fine performances from J.K. Simmons, Lou Taylor Pucci, Julia Ormond and Cara Seymour. The writing is straight and unpretentious and true to the mark, but the film feels tame and square.
(b) Margin Call is a moderately engaging Wall Street drama — I’m giving it a 7.5 — that uses reasonably well-sketched characters in a brokerage firm to dramatize the 2008 meltdown. It’s a decently made film with one especially riveting boardroom scene, but without much snap or tension overall, and it radiates a fair amount of gloom. Solid, workmanlike performances from Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci. Jeremy Irons is the standout as the ruthless top dog.
(c) Magic Trip offers fascinating color footage of the original 1964 coast-to-coast bus trip of Ken Kesey‘s Merry Pranksters, and tells the legendary story more or less completely with two glaring exceptions. One, there’s no mention whatsoever of Tom Wolfe or his book that almost single-handedly sculpted the Kesey/magic bus legend, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” And two, there’s only one mention of the word “enlightenment” in the whole film and no down-deep discussion at all of what LSD did for people during the early to late ’60s. The latter strikes me as borderline surreal given that LSD was the prime catalyst for the spiritual revolution of the late ’60s and ’70s.