You could be forgiven for thinking that the Festival had returned; almost every movie opening today played at TIFF just weeks ago. That’s October for you …
“Flash of Genius“: Greg Kinnear sparkles and twitches right on cue as Robert Kearns, the engineer who invented the intermittent windshield wiper and spent a decade or so trying to prove it. The movie around him is just as calculated as the performance.
“How to Lose Friends and Alienate People“: Simon Pegg is a very funny man, and I know he wants to break through to a larger audience, but … really, man, movies like this are not the way to do that, even if they do co-star Kirsten Dunst and Jeff Bridges.
“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”: Michael Cera and Kat Dennings are a perfectly adorable couple of hipster young’uns in Peter Sollet’s mostly delightful romantic comedy, which only veers wrong when it panders to the gross-out crowd. (Which only happens once, and it’s over really quickly.)
“Rachel Getting Married””: Jonathan Demme never stopped making interesting movies, but with “The Truth About Charlie”, “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Jimmy Carter Man from Plains” he kind of drifted away from the emotional stuff. This lovely little ensemble piece marks his welcome return.
“Religulous“: Bill Maher’s confrontational documentary feels less like an intellectual examination of the false comfort of faith and more like an excuse to make fun of the faithful. Which is cool, I guess — it’s his movie — but I’m still not sure what I was supposed to take away from it beyond cheap mockery and a sense of Maher’s immense self-regard. YMMV, as they say.
“The Secret of the Grain”: I still haven’t managed to catch up to Abdellatife Kechiche’s festival favorite about small-town dreamers and a floating couscous restaurant, but Rad and Jason are both pretty high on it, so I’m hoping to see it soon.
Also opening today: “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”. Can’t say I’m sorry I’m missing it.