Juliet, Naked


Love triangles are inherently awkwward.

(2018) Romantic Comedy (Roadside Attractions) Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd, Jimmy O. Yang, Megan Dodds, Lily Newmark, Azhy Robertson, Ayoola Smart, Lily Brazier, Johanna Thea, Georgina Bevan, Paul Blackwell, Janine Catterwall, Michael Chapman, Ko Iwagami, Karol Steele, Steve Barnett, Lee Byford, Florence Keith-Roach. Directed by Jesse Peretz

 

Sometimes to make a relationship work, we go along to get along. That’s all well and good but it can leave us in a rut that is anything but comfortable but we accept that it’s the way that things are and we just accept our situation. What do we do then when that which put us in that rut in the first place kicks us out violently?

Annie (Byrne) is in one of those ruts. She is certainly a go along to get along kind of gal; she curates a local museum in an English seaside town because her father left it to her to do. She lives with her boyfriend Duncan (O’Dowd) essentially because she’s used to him; they’ve been together for eight years in a kind of stagnant inertia-free relationship. He works as a professor of Film and TV studies at a local college when he’s not taking Annie for granted or ignoring her needs.

In fact it can be said that he has more passion for a forgotten indie rock musician named Tucker Crowe (Hawke) than he does for Annie. Crowe was a singer-songwriter of enormous potential having released a well-regarded album called Juliet chock full of loved-and-lost songs that bespoke a soul that had something to say when he exited a tour mid-set and dropped out of sight. The blog that Duncan runs endlessly discusses with other Crowe fans the minutiae of the few songs released to the public and reviews bootleg tapes of live Crowe performances from back in the day. There are some who believe that Crowe is in fact dead and gone

It turns out he’s alive and well. A demo tape of Crowe’s original album titled Juliet, Naked makes its way to Duncan but is intercepted by Annie who gives it a listen. She sees it as a naked cash grab by someone trying to live off of past glory and posts it in response to Duncan’s worshipful review of the piece. As it turns out the real Tucker Crowe reads the review and Annie’s stark response and he appreciates the honesty. It turns out he is coming to England to visit an estranged daughter, one of several progeny from a variety of post-rock star lovers, most of whom he hasn’t had much contact with. The only child of his that he spends any time with is Jackson (Robertson), possibly because Jackson’s mom (who has a new beau) allows Tucker to live rent-free in her garage.

It turns out that Crowe has struck up an e-mail correspondence with Annie and the two are developing a relationship. It also turns out that Duncan has messed up big time and Annie has asked him to leave. And it turns out that Duncan has difficulty believing that the other man in Annie’s life is the object of his obsession.

If you guessed that this sounds like something Nick Hornby would write, give yourself a pat on the back – it’s based on a novel by the prolific English writer. If the plot doesn’t give it away, then the terrific soundtrack that includes songs by Red House Painters and Hawke himself covering the Kinks criminally overlooked “Waterloo Sunset” should seal the deal.

Hawke has been on something of a roll for the past five years, turning in one outstanding performance after another. In fact, ever since Boyhood I can’t think of any movie he’s been in that he hasn’t been outstanding in. He is a fair enough singer as well, performing original songs written by luminaries like Connor Oberst for the soundtrack.

Byrne isn’t really well-suited to play dowdy but she does a credible job of it. However, the real revelation (sort of) is O’Dowd who essentially steals the movie. His hangdog look and oblivious demeanor is perfect for Duncan. O’Dowd strikes the right notes as the comic relief and has moments of actual pathos during the course of the movie which he proves quite adept at. Duncan isn’t the most likable of characters but O’Dowd imbues him with enough charm that we don’t end up loathing him, although we end up cringing at his actions.

The movie can be a bit talky in places and there are rom-com clichés in abundance. However, the movie finds humor in the ordinary (despite the extraordinary premise) and those moments really are the best ones in the film. It seems to me that rom-coms are making a bit of a comeback after a few off years following a period when we were inundated by cookie cutter romantic comedies that led to a bit of a pushback by the moviegoing public who demanded (and got) better romantic comedies. This isn’t a game changer by any standard but it is a solid and entertaining entry into the genre which in 2018 isn’t a bad thing at all.

REASONS TO GO: O’Dowd steals the show. The soundtrack is terrific.
REASONS TO STAY: There are a few rom-com clichés.
FAMILY VALUES: There is some profanity.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Byrne was six months pregnant during shooting. Her condition was covered up using shots medium shots and close-ups and strategically placed props.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 8/31/18: Rotten Tomatoes: 80% positive reviews. Metacritic: 66/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Song to Song
FINAL RATING: 7/10
NEXT:
Blood Fest

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New Releases for the Week of August 31, 2018


KIN

(Summit) Myles Truitt, Jack Raynor, Dennis Quaid, Zoë Kravitz, James Franco, Carrie Coon, Ian Matthews, Gavin Fox. Directed by Jonathan and Josh Baker

An adopted African-American teen finds an otherworldly weapon in an abandoned factory and takes it home where his brother has just returned home after a stint in jail. Soon the two are being chased by the feds, the alien soldiers whose weapon it is and a vengeful criminal who has a beef with the ex-con.

See the trailer, interviews, clips, a video featurette and B-roll footage here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard, DBOX, IMAX
Genre: Science Fiction
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating>: PG-13 (for gun violence and intense action, suggestive material, language, thematic elements and drinking)

Juliet, Naked

(Roadside Attractions) Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd, Jimmy O. Yang. A museum curator in a small British seaside town has put up for years with her boyfriend’s obsession over an American indie rocker who made one album and essentially disappeared. Now that there is new material out there, she impulsively writes a nasty review on her boyfriend’s website and to her surprise, gets a response from the musician in question. To her even greater surprise, she begins to develop a romantic relationship with the faded ex-rocker.

See the trailer, clips and video featurettes here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs, Enzian Theater, Regal Waterford Lakes, Rialto Spanish Springs Square

Rating: R (for language)

The Little Stranger

(Focus) Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Charlotte Rampling, Will Poulter. In 1948, an English country doctor visits a patient on an estate where his mother once worked. The crumbling manor disguises some terrifying events that will draw the doctor into an exploration of the history of the family that has lived there for more than two centuries – and even more disquietingly, his own.

See the trailer, clips and video featurettes here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Cinemark Artegon Marketplace, Regal The Loop, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: R (for some disturbing bloody images)

Operation Finale

(MGM) Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, Mélanie Laurent, Nick Kroll. This is the incredible but true story of the capture of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann in a daring raid in Buenos Aires by a combined force of Mossad and Shin Bet.

See the trailer and video featurettes here.
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: War Drama
Now Playing: Wide Release (opened on Wednesday)

Rating: PG-13 (for disturbing thematic content and related violent images, and for some language)

Searching

(Screen Gems) John Cho, Debra Messing, Michelle La, Sara Sohn. When his sixteen-year-old daughter disappears and with time ticking away, a desperate father searches his daughter’s laptop for clues that might lead him to his baby girl, and instead gets a lot more than he bargained for.

See the trailer and video featurettes here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Thriller
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: PG-13 (for thematic content, some drug and sexual references, and for language)

Yo Veremos

(Pantelion) Mauricio Ochmann, Fernanda Castillo, Emiliano Aramayo, Erik Hayser. A young boy preparing for sight-saving surgery puts together a bucket list of things he wants to do with both of his estranged parents.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Family
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs, Epic Lee Vista, Regal The Loop, Touchstar Southchase

Rating: NR

ALSO OPENING IN ORLANDO/DAYTONA:

An Actor Prepares
The Bookshop
Nartanasala
Reprisal
Support the Girls

ALSO OPENING IN MIAMI/FT. LAUDERDALE:

The Bookshop
Imaiikka Nodigal
John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection
Madeline’s Madeline
Nartanasala
Nico, 1988
The Night is Short, Walk on Girl
Reprisal
Stree
The Wife

ALSO OPENING IN TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG:

Blood Fest
Boarding School
The Bookshop
Imaiikka Nodigal
Reprisal
Snow Queen 3: Fire and Ice
Stree
 

ALSO OPENING IN JACKSONVILLE/ST. AUGUSTINE:

Nartanasala
Summer 1993

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Blood Fest
Juliet, Naked
Kin
The Little Stranger
Operation Finale
Searching
Support the Girls

Pick of the Litter – August 2018


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

The Meg

(Warner Brothers) Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis. A decorated diver is recruited to rescue a submersible that has been attacked by a sea creature previously thought extinct and lies disabled on the deepest part of the ocean floor. With time running out for the crew, a rescue operation is to be mounted but there’s one hitch; the diver encountered the creature once before and is terrified of it. If the crew is going to be saved he is going to have to get past his fear of the 75-foot prehistoric shark known as Megalodon. August 10

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Nico, 1988

(Magnolia) Trine Dyrholm, John Gordon Sinclair, Anamaria Marinca, Sandor Funtek. Nico was a rock and roll legend and a rock and roll casualty. In 1988 she was living in Manchester, struggling with addiction and the demons brought on by fame. Dyrholm gives a searing performance as the former singer for the Velvet Underground who shunned her fame and yearned to live life on her own terms.. August 1

La Familia

(Film Movement) Giovanni Garcia, Reggie Reyes, Kirvin Barrios, Indira Jimenez. A father and son are barely squeaking by in the gang-infested barrios of Caracas. When the son gets into a scrape with ta boy he shouldn’t have, the father realizes they cannot stay and survive. The willful boy detests his father, whom he sees as a coward. A day laborer, he brings his son to work with him as he desperately tries to earn enough to get them out before they can be caught and killed, slowly showing his son what a straight life looks like. This played the Miami Film Festival earlier this year and Cinema365 reviewed it which you can read here. August 3

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

(FilmRise) Chloe Grace Moretz, Jennifer Ehle, Marin Ireland, Sasha Lane. The conservative guardians of a teenage girl send her to God’s Promise, a gay conversion therapy treatment center. Set in 1993, the movie is about the discovery of who you are and learning to be okay with it. This was one of the more talked-about films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. August 3

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

(Netflix) Lily James, Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew Goode, Michiel Huisman. Following the end of World War II a writer comes to Guernsey Island to do a reading for their literary society. She unexpectedly bonds with the residents and determines to write a book about their experiences during the war which opens old wounds but could also bring much-needed closure. August 10

Juliet, Naked

(Roadside Attractions) Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd, Lily Newmark. A young English woman’s boyfriend is obsessed with an obscure American rock idol who has been out of the spotlight for twenty years. A chain of unlikely events puts her in touch with the musician online and when he comes to London, the two get together and sparks fly. Who will she wind up with, the rocker or the schlubby boyfriend? August 17

The Night is Short, Walk On Girl

(GKIDS) Starring the voices of Gen Hoshino, Kana Hanazawa, Hiroshi Kamiya, Kazuya Nakai. A group of teens, following a time-honored ritual of college sophomores, go out on the town to drink as much as they possibly can. Senpai, a classmate who has a crush on one of the girls, contrives to find ways to “accidentally” run into her during the night in question. This is definitely not just for kids. August 21

 

An L.A. Minute

(Strand) Kiersey Clemons, Gabriel Byrne, Bob Balaban, Ed Marinaro. One of the most successful writers in the world who’s known for producing potboilers that get made into big budget movies, is eager to try his hand at something that has more meaning. When he encounters a vibrant and innovative young actress in a small theater, he is inspired. He then watches as her star begins to eclipse his own. August 24

Active Measures

(Super LTD) Donald J. Trump, Vladimir Putin, John McCain, Hillary Clinton. This is a look at Russian meddling into the 2016 Presidential election and how it happened. The collusion between Trump and Putin didn’t start with the election, according to this documentary – and it won’t end there. A chilling entry into the most recent Hot Docs Film Festival.. August 31

Pick of the Litter

(Sundance Selects) Don Hardy Jr., Dana Nachman. This heartwarming documentary follows a litter of puppies selected to participate in the Guide Dog training program. The standards are high and not every puppy will make the cut, but the journey will be one that you’ll never forget. August 31