TCFF Day 7: Review of ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

There has been quite a lot of buzz around this movie, so I’m thrilled that it’s showing at TCFF about a month before its wide release! As I’ve mentioned on this post, this movie has won the coveted People’s Choice Award at TIFF and there’s been some Oscar buzz on Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, deservedly so.

This dramedy is written and directed by David O. Russell, his first film since his Oscar-nominated The Fighter, adapted from a novel of the same name by Matthew Quick. Instead of his usual muse Mark Wahlberg, we’ve got Bradley Cooper as former teacher Pat Solitano, who’s coming home from an 8-month stint at a mental institution and moving back with his parents. He refuses to take his medication, which no doubts creates some issues for his parents, such as waking them up in the wee hours complaining about the bleak plot of an Ernest Hemingway book, amongst others. Pat’s bipolar meltdowns are done in a delicate mix of pathos and hilarity that makes you laugh as well as sympathize for him. He still pines for his wife Nikki who has left him after he nearly beat her lover to death when he found them making love in the shower.

At home, things aren’t so simple for Pat either, especially in regards to his dad’s obsessions with the Philadelphia Eagles and how the extremely superstitious Pat Sr. thinks his son brings good luck if he watches the game with him. I tell you, I think he’s perhaps more of a nutjob that his son! But all Pat wants to do is reconcile with Nikki. One of the ways to get to her is through Nikki’s friend Veronica (nice to see Julia Stiles again albeit in a small role), and during dinner, he ends up meeting Veronica’s sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl who’s recently lost her husband in a car accident. Life takes an unexpected turn for both Pat and Tiffany, who initially has their own agenda for befriending each other. It’s apparent that they’re drawn to each other and the loss of their spouses makes them able to relate to one another more than they otherwise would, even if on the surface they bicker like cats and dogs.

The eccentric family dynamics remind me of those in The Fighter, Russell has a keen eye to frame these kinds of scenes and he’s also got the skill to get the best from his actors. The Solitanos are played by thespians Robert De Niro and Aussie Jacki Weaver, who nabbed an Oscar nomination for Animal Kingdom a few years back. The scenes between all three of them are mostly comical, though there are times where it got very intense during Pat’s mental breakdown. There’s also a hugely heart-wrenching scene between DeNiro and Cooper that showcase one of De Niro’s best performances in years.

The stars of the film are definitely Cooper and Lawrence here, especially the latter. I have to admit I’m not usually fond of pretty boy Cooper, but he’s made up to look very plain here and shows that he’s got some dramatic chops. He’s certainly come a long way from his TV days in Alias. I’ve always loved Lawrence, and her scene-stealing turn here makes me like her tenfold in this movie. Her screen charisma is undeniable, at only 22 she has the maturity and panache of an actress twice her age. The supporting cast is excellent all around, Julia Stiles, John Ortiz, and Anupam Kher as Pat’s therapist are all wonderful in their roles. There’s also Chris Tucker, who made a come back of sort as his last movie Rush Hour 3 was 5 years ago. He’s still the comic relief but though he still talks pretty fast, his role is a bit different from the typical irritating wisecracks we often see him play.

This is definitely a comedy with a heart, the laugh-out-loud parts are well-balanced with the some profoundly moving scenes. The dancing parts are a lot of fun to watch as well, that was a pleasant surprise for me as I had no idea it was integral to the plot. What I like most is the theme of finding a ‘silver lining’ no matter how dire you life is, it’s an uplifting message that any of us could relate to in one way or another.

I agree with my TCFF blogger friend June that this one is a ‘dark comedy with true heart strings.’ It’s nice that an all-star cast actually delivers, I think fans of any of the actors here won’t be disappointed. Silver Linings Playbook definitely lives up to the hype, easily one of the highlights of TCFF for me so far.

4.5 out of 5 reels


Also check out June’s review of MN Shorts: The Darker Side


Thoughts on this film and/or any of the actors?

TCFF Lineup is here! Check out what’s showing Oct 12-20

Wahoo!! After months of planning, negotiating, previewing, etc. the TCFF board and staff have finally revealed the full lineup of its third film fest! As did the previous two years, TCFF have become the regional premiere of a lot of this season’s most-anticipated films. Steve Snyder, TIME magazine’s assistant managing editor and TCFF’s scheduler, said it best in his tweet about the event:


In less than a month away, the Showplace Icon Theatre in St. Louis Park (definitely my favorite theater in time with its awesome seat-reservation feature) will be the place to be for movie lovers! So before I get to the movies, be sure to get your tickets beginning Wednesday (tickets are $10 for individual passes and $120 for multi-film and party passes).

Here are a sampling of the notable movies, as Minneapolis StarTribune critic Colin Covert have mentioned in today’s article:

Oct 14 – Dustin Hoffman‘s directorial debut Quartet, a character study of retired opera singers starring Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins. This one has a good potential to be noticed by the Academy, after all it’s by the Weinsteins and it doesn’t hurt that it’s written by Ronald Harwood (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Being Julia and The Pianist).

This just looks so delightful!! Harry Potter fans out there perhaps notice right away the reunion of Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall, ahah! I always like lighthearted comedies starring senior seasoned actors and this certainly look like something I’d enjoy.

Oct 16The Sessions, an affecting comedy-drama inspired by the true story of a paralyzed polio survivor and the sexual surrogate who helped him lose his virginity in his late thirties. It stars Alexandria, Minn. native John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy.

I have to admit the subject matter is a delicate one as it deals with disability AND sexuality, but I’ve got to admit the trailer looks quite heartwarming and sweet. Apparently the Australian director Ben Lewin, who himself lost the use of his legs to polio, seems to have direct this one with great humor and sensitivity.

Oct 18 Silver Linings Playbook starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro.

This is so exciting!! Just the other day I read that it won the coveted Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. That’s huge considering many previous Audience Award winners have gone on to win Oscar’s Best Picture, i.e. Chariots of Fire, American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire, and The King’s Speech [check out this THR article how other previous TIFF’s audience choice have fared at the Oscar]. Apparently the runner-up was Ben Affleck’s ARGO, which has scored early raves at several film festivals.

Lawrence is the main draw for me here, and interestingly enough, I was also impressed by her in Like Crazy which won Best Feature at TCFF last year. I also like seeing Julia Stiles among the cast, she also stars in It’s a Disaster with America Ferrara, premiering Oct. 13.

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Oct 19 Not Fade Away, a rock ‘n’ roll coming of age tale set in 1964 New Jersey, the feature directing debut from David Chase, creator of HBO’s The Sopranos.

Opening & Closing Films

Oct 12 – As I’ve mentioned here, the program will open with the hunger documentary A Place at the Table featuring Jeff Bridges – A documentary that investigates incidents of hunger experienced by millions of Americans, it takes on the food issue from a new angle, shining a light on the 30% of American families—more than 49 million people—that don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Oct 20 – The festival will conclude with the comedy Lumpy, which was filmed in various Minnesota locations, starring Justin Long and Jess Weixler. The premise definitely has the recipe for an oddball comedy: The best man at Scott (Long) and Kristin’s (Weixler) Arizona destination wedding, Lumpy (Tyler Labine) is the life of the party, until a long, indulgent night leads to his untimely death. Forced to cancel their honeymoon and fly back to Minneapolis to arrange for his funeral, Scott and Kristin meet Ramsey (Timlin) and learn that Lumpy isn’t quite who they thought he was.

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I’ll be blogging more about other movies that’ll be playing at TCFF, but below is the full lineup!

2012 FULL SCHEDULE

October 12    

8:30PM: A Place at the Table, directed by Kristi Jacobson & Lori Silverbush, 86m

October 13

10:30AM: Call Me Kuchu, directed by Katherine Fairfax Wright & Malika Zouhali-Worrall, 87m

1:00PM: The Sapphires, directed by Wayne Blair, 99m

3:00PM: The Iran Job, directed by Till Schauder, 93m

5:00PM: The Eyes of Thailand, directed by Tim Vandersteeg, 65m

7:00PM: It’s a Disaster, directed by Todd Berger, 88m

9:00PM: Bro’, directed by Nick Parada, 89m

October 14

11:00AM: Crazy & Thief, directed by Cory McAbee, 52m

12:15PM: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, directed by Steven Spielberg, 115m

2:45PM: We Are Wisconsin, directed by Annie Eastman, 105m

5:15PM: Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman, 97m

7:15PM: Stag, directed by Brett Heard, 83m

9:15PM: Dead Man’s Burden, directed by Jared Moshe, 93m

October 15  

7:00PM: Finding Home, directed by Chars Bonin, 90m

9:00PM: The “Lighter” Side (MN Shorts), Various MN Directors 100m

October 16

6:00PM: Best of MN: Festival Winners!, Various MN Directors, 60m

6:30PM: The Sessions, directed by Ben Lewin, 95m

8:30PM: The Rhymesayers European Tour, directed by Andrew Melby, 105m

October 17  

6:45PM: Dust Up, directed by Ward Roberts, 90m

7:00PM: Nobody Walks, directed by Ry Russo-Young, 83m

9:00PM: Opposite Blood, directed by Billy Xiong, 120m

October 18

2:45PM: American Autumn: An Occudoc, directed by Dennis Trainor Jr., 76m

4:45PM: Field Work: A Family Farm, directed by John Helde, 97m

6:30PM: Silver Linings Playbook, directed by David O. Russell, 117m

6:45PM: Pincus, directed by David Fenster, 79m

8:45PM: Carlos Spills the Beans, directed by Brian McGuire, 90m

9:00PM: The “Darker” Side (MN Shorts), Various MN Directors, 110m

October 19  

2:15PM: Reportero, directed by Bernardo Ruiz, 71m

4:00PM: A Band Called Death, directed by Jeff Howlett & Mark Covino, 98m

6:00PM: Things I Don’t Understand, directed by David Spaltro, 111m

6:30PM: Not Fade Away, directed by David Chase, 117 min

8:30PM: A Late Quartet, directed by Yaron Zilberman, 105m

9:00PM: Problem Solving the Republic, directed by Elliot Diviney, 95m

October 20

11:00AM: Bay of All Saints, directed by Annie Eastman, 75m

11:30AM: Detropia, directed by Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady, 90m

12:45PM: After I Pick the Fruit, directed by Nancy Ghertnet & Cathleen Ashworth, 93m

1:45PM: Lies, Lust, Betrayal – and Cold-Blooded Murder (Indie Shorts), Various Directors, 81m

2:45PM: Take Care, directed by Scott Tanner Jones, 86m

3:45PM: Ready to Fly, directed by William Kerig, 96m

5:30PM: Dead Dad, directed by Ken J. Adachi, 81m

6:00PM: The Story of Luke, directed by Alonso Mayo, 95m

8:00PM: Lumpy, directed by Ted Koland, 91m


Well, what do you think of this year’s lineup? Which movie(s) here are you most excited about?

FlixChatter Review: The A-Team

I originally wanted to post this as my weekend roundup, but haven’t got around to finishing it. Anyway, last weekend was a busy one but I managed to watch two movies that couldn’t be more different from each other: the action-packed The A-Team and Rob Marshall’s musical NINE (review forthcoming). Well in a way they have something in common, neither of them are ‘great’ movies by any means, but you know what, I quite enjoyed both and they met my expectations to some degree.

I was expecting a bombastic, loud, popcorn blockbuster and I got exactly what I asked for, nothing more, nothing less. I went in to see the movie for pure nostalgia sake as I watched the TV show as a youngster and the trailer just looked so darn entertaining. Now, the trailer is still far better than the movie, as is often the case, but fortunately the movie captured the whimsical and jovial spirit of the TV show. Every time the theme song comes on, I instinctively start grinning ear to ear.

The A-Team is a nickname for Operational Detachments Alpha (ODA), which they used to be a part of, but these four guys are now on the run from the military for being accused of a war crime they didn’t commit. The movie is an origins story of sort, as it shows how Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith finds the other three to form his team of four bad-asses. Each of the story is pretty amusing, but my favorite part is when he found Murdock in the mental institution.

The original A-Team: Dirk Benedict, George Peppard, Dwight Schultz, and Mr. T

Which brings me to the excellent casting. Each actor did their best in the role and work well together, which is key to the whole ensemble. I do agree with Novroz’s review that UFC champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson as B.A. is probably the weakest of the four, but then again the highly charismatic Mr. T really was a tough act to follow. But even so, he’s actually pretty good. It’s nice to see Liam Neeson having fun in the role of Hannibal, he takes it more than simply impersonating George Peppard with his cigar smoking smugness. I guess since his last actioner Taken, Neeson now adds ‘bonafide action star’ to his stellar resume.

Pretty boy Bradley Cooper fits the bill as the wise-cracking ladiesman Face, though he’s borderline afflicted with a Matthew McConaughey syndrome with his tendency to take his shirt off! I’ve talked about Quinton, now last but not least, Sharlto Copley‘s fantastic performance as the mischief maker Murdock. I initially frown that he chose this movie as his post District 9 role, but you know what, I’m glad he did. He’s the perfect comic relief and steals every scene he’s in. He’s proven to be quite a versatile actor and obviously has a knack for physical comedy.

This blinking contest leave Jessica & Bradley breathless

Besides the cast, all the movie is about is action, action, and more action. From start to finish, the fast pace hardly ever let up and we’re served with one overblown, logic-defying sequence after another. Director Joe Carnahan never takes the time to explain anything, so the plot always takes a back seat over the explosions and gunfights. It’s kind of mind-numbing after a while, but to complain that there’s too much action here is like going to a buffet and grumbles there’s too much food. The ending is shamelessly set up for a sequel with Jon Hamm in an uncredited role. It leaves the audience wondering who’s this Lynch character, the fishy CIA agent initially played by Patrick Wilson. Oh, Jessica Biel also stars as the lone female character in the testosterone-heavy flick. I’ve never been impressed by her acting but she doesn’t have to do much here than to appear breathless opposite hunky Mr. Cooper.

In any case, despite its flaws and absurdity, it was fun to switch off Saturday afternoon and just enjoy the brainless thrill ride.

Everyone’s a Critic Part 3: Reviews from FlixChatter’s Readers

Welcome to the third edition of Everyone’s a Critic series! We’ve got a couple of new contributors today, thanks guys! Here they are in their own words:

The Hangover
by Mike Beery (now how appropriate is that??) 😀

It’s uncommon that one seeks out a comedy film a second time, as most of the jokes aren’t as funny twice through. The Hangover happens to be one of those films requiring a second stint – simply because you’re laughing so hard at the constant stream of bits that you miss an awful lot the first time through.

Perhaps the reason there’s so much humor in this comedy is the cast made up of 4 central characters, three of which are hilarious. The plot is simple: best friends head to Vegas for a Bachelor’s Party Weekend that goes a rye. When the three friends wake up the next morning from a night of whooping it up they find that they’ve lost the groom. On top of that they can’t remember a thing about what happened the night before.  This turns the film into a detective story. As they get closer to locating the groom they uncover more and more of their debaucheries behavior. Watching their reactions to their own behavior is priceless.

The character interaction between Phil Wenneck played by Bradley Cooper (the good looking “Player” buddy), Stu Price played by Ed Helms (the weak Dentist controlled by his bitchy girl friend) and the brother of the bride Alan Garner played by Zack Galifianakis (a simpleton ex-pedophile-like guy still living at home) is rich. They each present a different spin on the crazy situations they’re presented with. This comic chemistry is why I had to see it again. You’ll laugh at the initial gag, then if you’re careful, you’ll catch the subtle interactions between these guys as they react to some of the funniest situations caught on film.

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Young @ Heart
by Stanley Prawiradjaja

Instead of giving review on some blockbuster (or not) movies that I watched recently (eg. Inglorious Bastards, Proposal, and Extract). I like to give my two thumbs up for an inspiring documentary that I recently watched called Young@Heart (2007). This documentary was aired free! at your local PBS (this is just to show why we should support our local PBS). This is an inspiring documentary on a group of 70’s-90’s (that’s their actual age, not calendar years) lead by a music director, Bob Cilman.

Started in 1982, the group was organized at an elderly housing project in Northampton, MA. Strive to bring happiness to the elderly through performance arts. The group would sing songs such as Coldplay’s “Fix You” or James Brown’s “I Feel Good”. I laughed and touched through their rehearsal and lost of their group members. This choir group gives them friendship, activities, and challenges as they try to sing some of the hard lyrics from rock songs. If you are looking for a good true story, look this up!

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AVATAR 3-D
by Burke Hegrenes

With three kids, I don’t see a lot of movies in the theatre. And if I do, it’s probably a “family” movie. But the more I heard about Avatar, the more I wanted to see it in the theater as opposed to waiting for the DVD release. But not because of the story. (Fantasy is not my favorite genre. I’ve only seen the first Star Wars, and I haven’t seen any of the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter movies.) No, the reason I wanted to see it on the big screen was because I heard it was a visual masterpiece – especially in 3D. So I paid the extra $3 for the 3D and was expecting big things … big things coming at me in a way that makes me want to duck my head or reach out and grab something floating in the theatre. But that wasn’t really the case.

Don’t get me wrong … I thought the story was great. A little formulaic at times (it sometimes felt like I was watching “A Bug’s Life;” others have compared it to Dances with Wolves). But I liked it. A lot. And the visuals were great too. But I just got the feeling that watching it on Blu Ray would be just as spectacular.

So I guess this is more of a review about 3D than it is the movie. And I say 3D isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. I saw Ice Age 3D in the theatre with my kids last year, and after the movie, they all said “that wasn’t really 3D.” I agreed, and wondered if it was a bad projector in the theatre or just lame 3D effects. I’m now guessing it was the latter. My son went with me to Avatar, and after it was done he said something to the effect of “Next time we go to a movie, let’s not do 3D.”

If I go to a 3D movie, I expect the 3D gags … the kind you see at the 3D shows at Disneyworld. Yeah, they’re kinda cheesy because they make the action forced. But isn’t the purpose of a 3D movie to trick viewers into wanting to reach out and grab for something that isn’t really there? Or is it just to trick them out of another $3?

Conspicuous Trailer of the: The A-Team

Ok, I post this one for nostalgia sake really, as it’s definitely not cinema’s greatest moment. But growing up with less than 10 TV channels, The A-Team was one of the shows I watch regularly, along with MacGyver, Growing Pains, and 21 Jump Street (which reportedly is getting its own remake courtesy of British director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz). So anyway, the trailer looks like a faithful homage to the series down to the theme music, which means over-the-top action sequences are to be expected. The new cast seems to step into the original in their mannerism. I wasn’t sure about Liam Neeson’s casting at first, but he looks like he’s having a ball as the cigar-smokin’ Hannibal. Not a huge fan of Bradley Cooper in general, he seems to be channeling Brad Pitt in his quest to be America’s fave pretty boy with his perfect teeth and sculpted bod, but then again Faceman is basically the eye candy of the show. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is no Mr. T, but I’d watch this flick just to see Sharlto Copley’s follow-up to District 9. I’d definitely miss his dramatic & tragic performance here though, but to be fair he seems like a pretty good pick as the wisecracking nutcase Murdock.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The A-Team Trailer – Trailer Addict“, posted with vodpod

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What do you think folks? Is this something you’ll watch come June?