Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers has seen Richard Linklater‘s Last Flag Flying (debuting at New York Film Festival), Woody Allen‘s Wonder Wheel (ditto) and Alfonso Gomez Rejon‘s The Current War (TIFF). Here are his observations:
Last Flag Flying: “Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne all hit acting peaks in Richard Linklater’s look at three military buddies still trying to heal psychic wounds three decades after they served together in Vietnam. The trio is forced to reunite after years apart, however, when Carell’s son dies while fighting in Iraq. It’s the mission of these middle-aged men to bring the boy home for burial. The Boyhood director’s latest is a triumph that also features stellar newcomer J. Quinton Johnson (Everybody Wants Some) as a young marine.” Wells reaction: An acting “triumph” or a general triumph all around? Too vague.
The Current War: “How will today’s audiences, with notoriously short attention spans, react to a century-old battle between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) over whose electrical system was better? For those who think AC/DC is just an Australian rock band, this period piece will be an education — though not a dull one. As directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) from a script by playwright Michael Mitnick (Sex Lives of Our Parents), this drama bursts with cinematic energy and is fueled by a plot as relevant as who’s building the next and best smartphone app. As for Cumberbatch and Shannon, they’re acting titans.” Wells reaction: Travers seems to imply that it’s strictly for 45-plus viewers due to Millenials not being the slightest bit interested.
Wonder Wheel: “Woody Allen’s latest, set in in the Coney Island of his youth, tees up Kate Winslet to delivers a tour de force performance as a 1950’s housewife who cheats on her carousel-operator husband (Jim Belushi). The object of her affection: a stud lifeguard, played by Justin Timberlake. Conflict ensues when a stepdaughter (Juno Temple) shows up to see her dad and falls for the lifeguard herself. The film has laughs and the richly evocative atmosphere of the fabled amusement park, but it’s the dramatic sparks you’ll remember. Watching Winslet fall to pieces is a rollercoaster ride all by itself.” Wells reaction: No mention of how good Belushi’s performance is?