Max Rose


September of his years.

September of his years.

(2015) Drama (Paladin) Jerry Lewis, Kerry Bishé, Kevin Pollak, Claire Bloom, Rance Howard, Lee Weaver, Angela Elayne Gibbs, Dean Stockwell, Illeana Douglas, Fred Willard, Stephanie Katherine Grant, Mort Sahl, Valerie Hurt, Jodie Mann, Joe Frank, Oliver Max, Jonathan Downs, Sarah Waisman. Directed by Daniel Noah

 

From the moment we are born, we begin our (hopefully) long journey down the road to old age and mortality. For those who are closer to the end of that road, the perspective can change and often with it comes bitterness, regret and remorse.

Max Rose (Lewis) is in mourning. His wife of 65 years, Eva (Bloom) has passed away, leaving him lost and empty. However, there is also a rage in him; shortly before her death, Max glanced inside her compact only to find a romantic inscription to his wife, written on November 5, 1959 when the former jazz pianist was in New York recording his one and only record while she remained in Los Angeles. It was a bitter revelation for Max, who now wonders if the only thing in his life he can be proud of – his marriage – was a complete failure like so much else in his life.

His bitterness seems mainly directed at his son Chris (Pollak) whom Max considers to have wasted his life, having gone through one divorce and is beginning a second. The only person Max seems to have any regard for is his granddaughter Annie (Bishé) and who has a relationship with her grandfather that is almost fatherly. Annie’s boyfriend Scott is in Chicago playing with the Philharmonic but Annie is reluctant to join him and Max counsels her to go. Annie for her part finds excuses not to – her job, her father’s health and so on.

After Max has a heart issue, Chris and Annie realize that they need to put him somewhere he can get the medical care he needs and the house is put up on the market much to Max’s contempt. It proves the excuse for Max and Chris to have one confrontation, but there are no fireworks; just surrender. Even Annie thinks Max is being harsh.

But the thing sticking in Max’s craw is the identity of the man who may have been having an affair with his wife. Was it a one-time occurrence or a long-term relationship? Was Max the love of Eva’s life, or the ball and chain that kept her from her one true love? And how was Max going to carry on without the love of his life?

I was looking forward to this film to see Lewis in a rare dramatic role, and the nonagenarian delivers with a frail but forceful performance that shows that the man who has been in show biz for 70 years has the ability to show his teeth once in awhile. There are times that Lewis literally looks lost in the role, which isn’t a bad thing. There are also times where he just seems lost, which is a bad thing. Fortunately, he is surrounded by a capable cast that performs admirably here.

Sadly, the script isn’t worthy of its cast. The dialogue sounds written rather than spoken and overly dramatic more often than not. There is a kind of flat tone to the film that gives me the sense that the filmmakers thought they would attract a much older demographic and is talking down to them like they all have ear horns sticking out of their skulls and have not a square inch of unwrinkled skin. It is painful to see a film so obviously aimed at a specific demographic that is so contemptuous of it.

What the film does get right is the dynamics between Chris, Max and Annie. This feels like real relationship issues and not just a bunch of people reading from a script. The filmmakers understand very well that the dynamics of a family can be difficult to comprehend even from within. They don’t explain what the source of the conflict is between Max and his son, and they don’t even try to; the important thing is that the dynamic of a family can be difficult to comprehend even from within it.

The ending features a confrontation between Max and his wife’s potential lover (Stockwell) but what should have been an emotionally charged scene comes off bland and proceeds directly into an ending that will leave you shaking your head if not your fist. I will admit that seeing Lewis onscreen was worth it for me specifically, and that Bishé and Pollak both deliver strong performances, as does Bloom in flashbacks where she injects some needed life into the film. Too bad she couldn’t resurrect as a zombie; even a zombie would have more life than most of this disappointing film.

REASONS TO GO: The family dynamics feel authentic. Some fine acting from the leads in the cast.
REASONS TO STAY: A schmaltzy ending that sabotages any good will the movie had to begin with. Noah tries too hard to make the movie feel heartwarming.
FAMILY VALUES: Some mild language and adult situations.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The film premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival (oh, those French sure love Jerry Lewis) but it wasn’t until this year at the New York Museum of Modern Art’s celebration of Lewis on the occasion of his 90th birthday that the movie was first seen in the United States.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 9/22/16: Rotten Tomatoes: 35% positive reviews. Metacritic: 37/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: 45 Years
FINAL RATING: 5/10
NEXT: Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?

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New Releases for the Week of September 23, 2016


The Magnificent SevenTHE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

(MGM/Columbia) Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Luke Grimes, Matt Bomer. Directed by Antoine Fuqua

A desperate border town overrun by a savage businessman and his army of mercenaries reaches out to a bounty hunter for help. He recruits a group of seven outsiders who are willing to take the job. The odds are overwhelmingly against them but this small group finds that they are fighting for a lot more than a paycheck. This is a remake of a classic which in turn was a remake of a classic.

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

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

Rating: PG-13 (for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material)

End of a Gun

(Grindstone/Lionsgate) Steven Seagal, Florin Piersic Jr., Jade Ewen, Jacob Grodnik. A former federal agent, now working as a mall security guard, rescues a woman from the wrath of a drug lord’s enforcer. Now he’s going to have to call upon all his skills to keep the two of them alive. However, seeing as it’s Steven Seagal, I think we can safely say the enforcer’s days are numbered.

See the trailer and a clip here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Action
Now Playing: AMC Loew’s Universal Cineplex

Rating: R (for violence, language and brief sexuality)

The Hollars

(Sony Classics) Margo Martindale, Sharlto Copley, Richard Perkins, John Krasinski. A struggling New York artist returns home to the small town he’d fled years before when he receives word of his mother’s illness. Staying in the house he grew up in, he is forced to deal with his family’s dysfunctional drama, the machinations of a high school rival and the seductions of a former girlfriend even as he prepares for fatherhood himself, a job he feels woefully unsuited for.

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

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs, Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: PG-13 (for brief language and some thematic material)

I.T.

(RLJ) Pierce Brosnan, James Frecheville, Anna Friel, Stefanie Scott. The CEO of an aerospace company would have every right to feel on top of the world. After all, his company is about to revolutionize what airplanes are all about, he has an adoring family and lives in a state-of-the-art smart house where everything is computer-controlled. When a glitch shows up in his system, he calls an I.T. guy out to take a look at it and gets a lot more than he bargained for – a psychotic stalker.

See the trailer and a clip here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: AMC Loew’s Universal Cineplex

Rating: NR

Max Rose

(Paladin) Jerry Lewis, Kerry Bishé, Kevin Pollack, Claire Bloom. Days before his wife of 65 years passes away, jazz pianist Max Rose makes a discovery that shakes his world to its foundation; his marriage and consequently his entire life may not be what he thought it was. Dogged and determined, even as his own health requires his children to put him into a nursing facility, he determines to find out who may have been his wife’s lover.

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

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: NR

Storks

(Warner Brothers) Starring the voices of Andy Samberg, Kelsey Grammer, Jennifer Aniston, Ty BurrellWe all know how babies are delivered, right? Yup…via stork. But that business has long been unprofitable and the storks have wisely gone into the more lucrative package delivery biz. However, the baby making machine has unaccountably produced an unaccounted for baby. Needing to find the rightful parents before the powers that be discover the snafu, the best courier in the stork fleet and a couple of friends try to right what could be a monumental error.

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

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: PG (for mild action and some thematic elements)

Pick of the Litter – September 2016


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven

(Columbia/MGM) Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio. First, it was Akira Kurosawa. Next, it was John Sturges. Now, it’s Antoine Fuqua. All of them have directed a movie based on a story of seven lone warriors, fighting a hopeless battle to defend the defenseless against overwhelming odds. Seven Samurai (1954) was transplanted from feudal Japan to the American West and remade in 1960 as The Magnificent Seven. It now gets the remake treatment itself with an all-star cast (although not quite as all-star as the 1960 version) led by one of the most respected actors in Hollywood and one of the biggest up-and-coming franchise makers. It will be interesting to see if the new version can retain the timeless qualities of both of its predecessors. September 23

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Antibirth

Antibirth

(IFC Midnight) Natasha Lyonne, Chloë Sevigny, Meg Tilly, Mark Webber. As we wheel into the fall and the province of scary cinema, here is a horror movie in the tradition of Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. A young party girl goes to a rave where she blacks out after some pretty intense celebrating. She doesn’t remember anything about what happened but shortly thereafter she discovers she’s pregnant. Electing to have the baby, soon it becomes obvious that this is no ordinary pregnancy – and she is carrying no ordinary baby. September 2

Max Rose

Max Rose

(Paladin) Jerry Lewis, Kerry Bishé, Dean Stockwell, Illeana Douglas. The legendary Lewis makes his first live action appearance on the silver screen in 21 years as a jazz pianist who discovers that his marriage of 65 years was a sham. Lost and alone, he decides to investigate and find out what went wrong and enters into a world of old friends, young children and a past that wasn’t what he thought it was.. September 2

Cameraperson

Cameraperson

(Janus) Kirsten Johnson, Catherine Johnson, Michael Moore. This isn’t so much a documentary as a diary, a look at the long and distinguished career of cinematographer Kirsten Johnson who has been behind the camera for some of the most compelling documentaries of the past 30 years, including Darfur Now, Citizenfour and A Place at the Table. It is not presented in a linear style but takes you to the places she’s been with a minimum of voice over or graphics. It is merely the images that have affected her over the years and through her, us. September 9

Other People

Other People

(Vertical) Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, June Squibb. After leaving his home to become a comedy writer in New York, things don’t turn out as well as David had hoped; his career is going nowhere and to make matters worse, he’d just gone though a traumatic break-up with his girlfriend. Now his mother is terminally ill and with his New York life being at a standstill, he returns home to Sacramento to find that the worst year of his life might just possibly turn out to be his best after all. September 9

Is That a Gun in Your Pocket

Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?

(Area23a) Andrea Anders, Matt Passmore, Cloris Leachman, Katherine McNamara. In Texas, guns come right about even with religion to the point where the two are virtually indistinguishable. In small Texas towns, open carry laws are loose and it’s not uncommon for nearly the entire population of the town to be packing. In one small Texas town, a near-tragedy causes some of the ladies to take stock of the situation. In a modern twist on Lysistrata, the women of the town decide to withhold sex from their men until they agree to give up their guns. The question becomes, what will the virile men of the town choose – their firearms or the fairer sex? September 16

Mr. Church

Mr. Church

(Cinelou) Eddie Murphy, Britt Robertson, Natascha McElhone, Lucy Fry. Into the lives of a dying mother and her precocious daughter comes Mr. Church, who is hired to cook for the two of them by the woman’s ex-husband. What was supposed to be a six month gig turns into a lifetime as the cook becomes a lot more than just someone who prepares meals for the little girl who grows up into a beautiful, talented young woman; he becomes family. September 16

 

Audrie and Daisy

Audrie and Daisy

(Netflix) Daisy Coleman, Jim Fall, Delaney Henderson, Darren White. Two girls, two different towns, the same story, different endings. Two girls are sexually assaulted by boys they thought were their friends. When they stand up and demand justice, the small towns they live in close ranks. The girls undergo an immense amount of bullying in the social media, their lives and reputations dragged through the mud. This chilling documentary shows an all-too-common theme of how the sexes are perceived and how rape victims are often victimized a second time when they are shamed, called liars and sluts and otherwise ostracized by their communities. This will be playing a brief theatrical run in New York City and debuting on Netflix simultaneously. September 23

Goat

Goat

(Paramount) Nick Jonas, Ben Schnetzer, Gus Halper, James Franco. It is autumn and at colleges and universities across the land, a familiar ritual is underway: fraternity pledging. In recent years, the hazing rituals that mark the rite of passage between boys and men have become more brutal, more terrifying and fraternities themselves have become breeding grounds for alcoholism and rape. Some of the reasons that fraternities are turning out these kinds of guys have to do with what it takes to get in. Goat, although distributed by a major studio, is going more of an indie distribution route, opening in Los Angeles and New York theatrically and going on VOD simultaneously.. September 23

Milton's Secret

Milton’s Secret

(Momentum) Donald Sutherland, Michelle Rodriguez, Mia Kirshner, William Ainscough. A young boy is mercilessly bullied in school, and lives with parents who are stressed that they might lose their home despite the fact they are both working good jobs. Into the mix comes the boy’s grandfather and a caring teacher, both of whom find ways to unlock the potential within him. September 30