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It’s always interesting to see what happens when memoirs become movies. Watching one person’s life story, rendered in their own words, transformed into something else by other artists … it’s fascinating. Sometimes, it doesn’t work. And sometimes, it REALLY doesn’t work. But when it does work, it can make for a truly engaging viewing experience.

“The Tender Bar” works. It works because it is a heartfelt and emotionally honest portrait of a childhood and young adulthood spent in very specifically realized times and places. It works because it is loving without being saccharine and funny without being condescending. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to have George Clooney behind the camera and Ben Affleck in front of it.

Based on J.R. Moehringer’s 2005 memoir of the same name, “The Tender Bar” is a loving look back, full of fond memories despite (or perhaps because of) the more complicated aspects of growing up. There’s a well-worn familiarity at work here – we’ve heard plenty of stories like this before – but this tale mostly manages to maintain its charm. Sure, you can argue that its narrative wanders and its tone occasionally ventures too far into the realm of the sentimental, but the people we meet make it an engaging hang nevertheless.

Published in Movies

The end of the world has always been a subject of fascination for storytellers. The visceral nature of apocalyptic thinking makes for high stakes that bring out the very best and very worst of humanity. Some of these endings are loud and others are quiet, but all of them show us reflections of ourselves.

“The Midnight Sky” – directed by George Clooney, who also stars – is one of the quiet ones, a film that views the end of the world from a pair of very different perspectives. Adapted from Lily Brooks-Dalton’s excellent 2016 novel “Good Morning, Midnight,” it’s a story of isolation and desperation, a tale not of saving the world, but of accepting the fact that it cannot be saved.

Yet it also manages to be a hopeful story, one in which we see people doing what they believe to be best even as they accept the truth that their actions likely won’t matter in the end. Featuring some stylish visuals and compelling performances, “The Midnight Sky” shows us the different ways in which mankind chooses to escape the trappings of Earth by turning its gaze to the stars.

Published in Movies
Friday, 27 October 2017 10:03

'Suburbicon' suburbi-can't

Clooney-helmed film fails to live up to potential

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 13:25

Taking stock of Money Monster'

Financial drama lacks energy and urgency

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 22 February 2012 15:23

A night at the Oscars

Picking the 2012 Academy Awards

It's that time again; time for the Hollywood elite to roll out the red carpet and part themselves on the back. That's right - it's the Academy Awards.

As someone who spends a lot of time at the movies, this is one of my favorite times of the year. Awards such as the Oscars are great because they inspire conversation - who do you think will win, who do you think should win, which movies did you see, which movies did you like, which did you hate - and on and on and on.

So I'm once more putting my prognostication skills on the line. These are my picks for some of the big awards come Sunday night. Again, these aren't necessarily the people and films that I think should win. They're the ones I think will win. Sometimes, they're the same. More often, they're not.

Published in Cover Story

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