In a 1.24.15 review from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, N.Y. Post critic Kyle Smith called James Ponsoldt‘s The End of the Tour (A24, 7.31) “by far the most moving and profound odd-couple buddy movie [to play here], with a funny, lightly intellectual script by Pulitzer Prize winning dramatist Donald Margulies that should merit heavy awards consideration. Falling halfway between Almost Famous and My Dinner with Andre, this love song to the art of conversation is about a Rolling Stone journalist, David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) who is infatuated with the postmodernist novelist David Foster Wallace’s gargantuan novel ‘Infinite Jest’ and begs for the opportunity to profile the author, who’s about to leave his snowbound rural home in Illinois for a five-day book tour to Minneapolis.” I tried to fit this film into my Sundance schedule but stuff got in the way. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Okay, maybe I didn’t try hard enough on some level. Maybe I don’t relate all that well to guys who who have trouble controlling their appetites or who live in Illinois or who off themselves. But I wanted to see it. Want to, I mean.
Consequence of Sound’s Michael Roffman, filed on 3.16.15: “Not since Anton Corbijn’s Control, his excellent 2007 retelling of the life and death of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, has a biopic felt so authentic and conditional of its own subject. Screenwriters Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner lean heavily on a number of must-read bookmarks in Brian Wilson’s career, but [director Bill] Pohlad adds a surreal touch, capturing the ’60s druggy landscapes and Wilson’s manic inner voices with dreamy perspectives Love & Mercy leaves the darkest hours of Wilson’s life — his weight gain, his drug abuse, and his rigorous early therapy sessions alongside Eugene Landy — for the imagination or extra-curricular studies. The film has enough struggles to resolve, specifically how Wilson’s love for music nearly crushed him, and how love eventually saved him. The way Pohlad orchestrates this strange dichotomy on-screen is about as beautiful and heartwarming as any of The Beach Boys’ best material. And when your favorite songs bubble up or weave through Atticus Ross’s unique score, the marriage of sound and screen will win your tears, your smiles and your soul. To paraphrase Wilson, that’s what you need tonight.”
I’ll grudgingly vote for Hillary Clinton in the end, but I don’t like her that much. She’s okay in a corporately liberal, center-right sort of way, and like everyone else I love the idea of a woman succeeding Barack Obama. But I really love who Bernie Sanders is — a man of balls and integrity and blunt truths. I would honestly prefer that he become the next President, or someone like him. But he’s the guy — he’s it. He won’t beat Hillary in the primaries, of course, but for the time being and the foreseeable future I’m a total Bernie guy, and that means donating and wearing a Bernie for President T-shirt and all the rest of it. But I wish they would make European-style Bernie T-shirts like they do for women. I won’t wear a coarse, inelegant, low-thread-count T-shirt for any reason, Bernie Sanders included.
Brad Peyton’s San Andreas (Warner Bros., 5.29) is exactly what the trailers have been selling — a serving of stupidly entertaining, over-the-top disaster porn that flirts with absurdity. Yes, everyone plays it totally straight and the script hits the usual predictable beats as the all-but-total destruction of Los Angeles, San Francisco and much of California is reduced to a story of six or seven people who show what they’re made of when push comes to shove. But it’s the very sincerity in which Peyton and his cast and FX team embrace this mudslide of cliches that makes it screamingly funny. Not “wow, these guys are really hilarious” funny but “wow, these guys will stop at nothing…they’ll push any button they can think of.” You just have to laugh or at least chortle.
After it’s all over at the very end we’re shown small groups of survivors holding hands and praying together along with a fence display of paper-mounted photos of possible survivors with messages asking if anyone has seen this or that person. We’re also shown a huge American flag being unfurled from the remnants of the Golden Gate Bridge. “You contemptible whores,” I muttered to myself. “You’re using memories and echoes of 9/11 to augment your finale, which you’re totally ‘sincere’ about. Serious balls, gentlemen…hats off.”
This is an appalling, never-boring, kill-the-world action film — a movie that goes beyond what any reasonable person would call a bogus, full-of-shit dramatic strategy to embrace something crazier and more meta. I’m not sure how to describe it except to say that San Andreas makes Irwin Allen‘s The Towering Inferno look like Elia Kazan‘s On The Waterfront. (If you’re fair about it you’ll acknowledge that Inferno was at least semi-realistic in its use of practical fire-fighting realities.) It’s not so much a “we will rock you” experience as one that says — boasts! — “we are the owners of this bullshit and we will fucking amaze you with our shamelessness.” And I submitted. I had to. I just shook my head and sat back in my 4DX chair and muttered, “Whatever, guys…go to town.”