Movie Meter: Tina Fey’s This is Where I Leave You is a Tremendous Waste of Comic Firepower

A couple foreign flicks win the weekend.


1. The Conformist: A most welcome re-release of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1970 classic about a cowardly Italian man in 1930’s Italy, who agrees to perform an assassination for the Fascist cause, even though the intended victim is his own former college professor. The film is known for its fiery political commentary—not for nothing does the film’s title suggest a complete weakness of moral character in the face of fashionable political movements—but also for its stunning production values, from the costumes and set design to the extraordinary cinematography by Vittorio Storaro. A chance to see the fully-restored version (the original U.S. print was cut by five crucial minutes) on the big screen is a huge treat for cinephiles everywhere. Playing at Ritz at the Bourse. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

2. Last Days in Vietnam: Riveting documentary work from Rory Kennedy about the closing of the Vietnam War. It concerns the few American soldiers and diplomats who were still deployed in Saigon as it was falling into the hands of the North Vietcong, and how they had to choose between following orders and evacuating, or saving as many panicked South Vietnamese innocents as possible on their way out. The resulting action taken by a combined force of Americans and South Vietnamese is nothing less than resolutely stirring. Playing at Ritz at the Bourse. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

3. The Green Prince: A taut, Middle Eastern thriller-type documentary from director Nadav Schirman. The film concerns the son of a high-ranking member of Hamas, who turns on his family to become an informant for Israel, and his Shin Bet handler, who does everything he can to protect his prize spy. Like a le Carré novel come to life, the film follows the shadowy dealings and counter-dealings of highly placed agents, risking their lives for the intelligence they can gather. Playing at Ritz Five. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%


1. My Old Lady: Fairly reeking of whimsy, the film stars Kevin Kline as a depressed wretch living in New York who inherits an apartment in Paris after his father dies. Once he arrives, though, he finds it already inhabited by an elderly English woman (Maggie Smith) and her lovely daughter (Kristen Scott Thomas), neither one of whom plan on budging from the place. Hilarity and romantic hijinks ensue. Playing at Ritz Five. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

2. The Maze Runner: Yes, it sounds like the makings of yet another teenager-saves-dystopian-future flick (a teen whose memory is wiped clean is placed inside a giant maze along with other runners trying to escape) but this one has some chutzpah. To begin with, the actors (including Dylan O’Brien as the boy and Kaya Scodelario as his potential love interest) free themselves well, and the simplicity of their predicament might lend itself to better-than-imagined intrigue. Pearl, Rave, UA Riverview. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%

3. Tusk: Kevin Kline’s latest follows a hapless podcaster (Justin Long) who runs afoul of a pretty demented sadist. He is kidnapped, and, um, gets slowly transformed through extremely invasive surgeries into a … walrus. Believe me, I know, but many of the people who saw it at TIFF swore that while it was indeed very strange, it was also oddly engrossing. View at your own risk. Playing at Rave, UA RiverviewRotten Tomatoes Score: 46%


1. A Walk Among the Tombstones: Yet another Liam Neeson action thriller in which the 62-year-old is sent out to bang heads with a bunch of young toughs and older psychopaths. The film is just peculiar enough to string you along, but by the time the ridiculous climax takes place, it’s fallen into serious, dimwitted convention. Expect much in the way of logic flaws and nonsensical plot developments to go along with your bloody violence. Pearl, Rave, UA RiverviewRotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

2. This is Where I Leave You: A mostly bland family-coming-home comedy from Shawn Levy in which Adam Driver is the lone actor amongst a pretty stellar cast (including Upper Darby’s Tina Fey) to actually be given amusing material with which to work. As it stands, it’s a tremendous waste of comic firepower in service to a hackneyed script absolutely loaded down with hokey, overt symbols and totems that slap you in the face with their lame significance. Roxy, UA Main Street, UA Riverview. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%

3. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: The estimable James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain star in this limp romantic drama from Ned Benson, who actually created his-and-hers versions of the events depicted in separate films before uniting them together for one sodden version. It’s an ambitious type of project, though one must wonder what it was in this mostly generic love story that so interested the filmmaker to want to shoot several versions in the first place. The film also employs some downright deceitful techniques in an attempt to heighten its own drama, so be forewarned. Playing at Ritz East. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%