Edge of Tomorrow (SSSS): This is a gripping, humorous time-travel movie that starts out on a high note with a fine confrontation between Major Tom Cruise, a smarmy PR man, and General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), that lets Tom know what the army is all about. Thoroughly engrossing, it’s extremely well-directed with humor and pace by Doug Liman, who doesn’t allow the special effects to overshadow the story. Cruise does a terrific job of acting and his comedic talent makes the film something I wasn’t expecting at all.
Night Moves (SSS): There are lots of shots of people thinking, mostly Jesse Eisenberg, who seems to seek out roles like this with a range that barely gets past A (e.g. “The Social Network”). While a little bit of that goes a long way, his thoughtful, mostly non-verbal, process adds to the mounting tension as problems mount and the only way out seems beyond the pale. Eisenberg is overshadowed by Dakota Fanning’s sensitive performance and Peter Sarsgaard’s excellent turn as a loose cannon. Compared with other films in which people think most of the time, this one is well above the norm.
The Love Punch (SS): Without a scintilla of chemistry between former spouses Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson who are supposed to be falling back in love, this attempt at a caper romantic comedy is appallingly implausible, despite a charming opening that is a subtle homage to Brosnan’s stint as James Bond, and beautiful cinematography of the Parisian and French Riviera locations.
Palo Alto (SSS): Gia Coppola, in her directorial debut (she also wrote the script based on several stories by James Franco, who also appears as a charming but morally corrupt soccer coach), is not unlike her aunt Sofia in making a film that at first appearances makes one feel lost in a Terence Malick-inspired languidity. But while the film is slow, it is not uninvolving, with a pervasive feeling of impending tragedy. Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer (Val’s son), and Nat Wolff give standout performances. Middle aged Franco’s pursuit of teenager Roberts is appropriately creepy. Off of this, Gia looks like a real comer as a director.