Capsule reviews: '50/50,' 'Take Shelter'
In this film image released by Summit Entertainment, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is shown in a scene from "50/50." (AP Photo/Summit Entertainment,Chris Helcermanas-Benge)
Capsule reviews of films opening this week:
"50/50" — It could have been agonizingly mawkish: The story of a young man with everything ahead of him who learns he has a rare form of spinal cancer, one that he only has a 50 percent chance of surviving. Instead, "50/50" is consistently, uproariously funny, written with humanity and insight and directed with just the right tone every time. Comedy writer Will Reiser crafted the script based on his own cancer diagnosis when he was in his early 20s. His words are filled with dark humor and a wry recognition of the gravity of this situation, but also with real tenderness. And director Jonathan Levine pulls us into this intimate world through an abiding naturalism. He's made a film about cancer that's effortlessly affecting. It helps that he has Joseph Gordon-Levitt, an actor of great range and subtlety, in the starring role as Adam. He goes through all the requisite stages of denial, frustration, fear and eventually acceptance, but he does so with such believable imperfection, he never feels like a saint or a martyr. But Adam has an ideal balance in his lifelong best friend and co-worker, played by Seth Rogen in the kind of garrulous and lovably crass role Rogen has built a career on. But Gordon-Levitt's most moving scenes are with the delightful Anna Kendrick as Adam's young, eager-beaver therapist. R for language throughout, sexual content and some drug use. 100 minutes. Four stars out of four.
In this film image released by the Freestyle Releasing, director Nick Broomfield poses with a cardboard cut-out of former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a scene from the documentary “Sarah Palin: You Betcha!" The film is being presented at the Toronto International Film Festival. (AP Photo/ Freestyle Releasing)
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Margaret" — After more than five years and a protracted legal battle over its running time, Kenneth Lonergan's long-awaited follow up to his brilliant debut, "You Can Count on Me," finally arrives. The result is an ambitious 2 ½-hour film (Lonergan wanted a 3-hour cut), unfocused and overcooked, but nevertheless often exhilarating, bold and insightful. Anna Paquin plays a petulant 17-year-old who innocently distracts a bus driver, causing a fatal accident. She plunges into moral confusion, obsessively seeking justice for the driver. Lonergan, a playwright, gives the film clear 9/11 symbolism, while also considering the role of art in real anguish. It's good enough to believe the filmmaker's 3-hour version should be released, if for no other reason than to placate curiosity. Paquin, searching and ferocious, is exceptional. With Matt Damon and Matthew Boderick as teachers, an excellent J. Smith-Cameron, and a remarkable Allison Janney as the accident victim. R for strong language, sexuality, some drug use and disturbing images. 150 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.