Cinema Chat: Cinetopia, 'Neighbors', 'Dom Hemingway', 'Only Lovers Left Alive' And More

May 8, 2014

Michigan Theater
Michigan Theater
Credit Michigan Theater

The Cinetopia Festival, taking place in Ann Arbor and Detroit June 4-8, features the best feature-length dramas, comedies, and documentaries selected from the world’s outstanding film festivals, including Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, and Berlin. The Cinetopia Festival Schedule is now online, Tickets On Sale May 9

The complete film schedule is online at cinetopiafestival.org. Tickets and passes go on sale to the general public tomorrow, Friday, May 9.

Opening at the Multiplex

Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne lead the cast of “Neighbors,” a comedy about a young couple suffering from arrested development who are forced to live next to a fraternity house after the birth of their baby. Andrew Barker of Variety says “Zac Efron gives one of his most credible and intriguing performances in this winningly stupid frat comedy.” “Neighbors” opens Friday.

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly -- It's a frat-house flick with more on its mind than beer, bongs, and beer bongs. It's also a razor-sharp commentary on desperately trying to remain carefree after the burdens of adulthood have taken over.

John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter -- An uproarious and hugely commercial vision of intergenerational warfare.

Andrew Barker, Variety -- Zac Efron gives one of his most credible and intriguing performances in this winningly stupid frat comedy.

In “Mom’s Night Out” all Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation - a long-needed moms' night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a paper bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for three hours - what could go wrong? “Mom’s Night Out” opens Friday.

Heather Baysa, Village Voice -- Outrageously enough, the moral of Moms' Night Out seems to be that moms should never get a night out.

Justin Chang, Variety -- A shrill feature-length sitcom for the faith-based family values crowd, if nowhere near as good as that sounds.

“Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return” is a 3D-animated musical based on the adventure books by Roger Stanton Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum. This film finds Dorothy (Lea Michele) waking to post-tornado Kansas, only to be whisked back to Oz to try to save her old friends the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), the Lion (Jim Belushi), the Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) and Glinda (Bernadette Peters) from a devious new villain, the Jester (Martin Short).   “Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return” opens Friday.

Justin Chang, Variety -- "Oh, Toto, this doesn't look like the Oz I remember," Dorothy murmurs at one point. Truer words were never spoken.

Lou Lumenick, New York Post -- An] eyeball-gougingly ugly, charm-free animated musical sequel, which is inexplicably opening in thousands of theaters instead of going direct to video.

Sherilyn Connelly, Village Voice -- Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return fails to make us care about the characters or their journeys, and the animation is shoddy and occasionally creepy ...

Opening Downtown

Calling all Jim Jarmusch fans, his new film, “Only Lovers Left Alive,” opens Friday! Set in Detroit and Tangier, the film follows an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, as he reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover (a vampire?). Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them? Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says, “Jarmusch, as ever, has the power to sneak up on you. He's a spellbinder. The same goes for his movie.”  “Only Lovers Left Alive” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

Tom Long, Detroit News -- Somehow it's all very entertaining and weird and fitting, with Detroit looking like a place any vampire would be happy to be.

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer -- Swinton, her hair white and long and her eyes tired and kind, and Hiddleston, moody and resigned, are wonderful - delivering their lines with the dry sighs of a desert breeze.

Ty Burr, Boston Globe -- In "Only Lovers Left Alive," writer-director Jim Jarmusch turns one of his silliest notions into one of the more affecting movies of his career.

Anthony Lane, New Yorker -- Has undoubted panache, and wit to spare, especially when Swinton is in the frame.

Bob Mondello, NPR -- A vampire flick as only Jim Jarmusch would ever conceive it, languidly poetic, worldweary and crammed with hipster in-jokes.

Jude Law plays “Dom Hemingway,” a larger-than-life safecracker with a loose fuse who is funny, profane, and dangerous. After twelve years in prison, he sets off with his partner in crime looking to collect what he's owed for keeping his mouth shut and protecting his boss Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir). After a near death experience, Dom tries to re-connect with his estranged daughter, but is soon drawn back into the only world he knows, looking to settle the ultimate debt. Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer calls the film “The kind of crime flick where the characters volley dialogue like furious ping-pong players, riffing with delight, their lines ripe with pulpy metaphor.” “Dom Hemingway” opens Friday at the State Theatre.

Jude Law is clearly having fun in Dom Hemingway's title role, but viewers may find this purposely abrasive gangster dramedy isn't quite as enjoyable from the other side of the screen.

David Denby, New Yorker -- Law, saying farewell to his youthful good looks (Dom has scars and a little too much weight), makes this hyper-articulate ruffian the most intricately soulful character in current movies.

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times -- Almost every line is delivered with such overwrought bombast, just inches at times from the camera, you may feel a need to dodge the spittle.

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly -- The real amazement of Dom Hemingway is that, as written and directed by Richard Shepard, the movie picks up this snarling hooligan and treats him like a character out of Shakespeare.

“Ernest & Celestine” is a beautiful, animated children’s film that I saw and loved at Sundance. Deep below snowy, cobblestone streets, tucked away in networks of subterranean tunnels, lives a civilization of hardworking mice, terrified of the bears who live above ground. Like a gorgeous watercolor painting brought to life, a constantly shifting pastel color palette bursts and drips across the screen, while wonderful storytelling and brilliant comic timing draw up influences as varied as Buster Keaton, Bugs Bunny, and the outlaw romanticism of Bonnie and Clyde. With the voices of Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman. “Ernest & Celestine” plays May 11-13 at the Michigan Theater.

In “On My Way” an aging former beauty queen (Catherine Deneuve, Repulsion, Tristana, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Belle de Jour, The Young Girls of Rochefort) finds herself jilted by her lover and left alone to deal with the financial problems facing her family’s restaurant. What begins as a quick drive to clear her head turns into a full-fledged road trip, and along the way there are chance meetings, an ex-Miss France gala, renewed ties with her estranged daughter and grandson, and possibly, at the end of the road, love. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle says "’On My Way’ finds Deneuve warm and natural, completely open and yet subtle, able to suggest much with little, allowing us to read her thoughts.” “On My Way” plays May 10, 12 & 14 at the Michigan Theater.

Stephen Holden, New York Times -- Just when "On My Way" seems about to be stranded in the middle of nowhere, Bettie and Charly's fraught relationship gives the movie an emotional center and comedic drive.

Ella Taylor, NPR -- The movie has a soundtrack full of pop delights and a loose-limbed way of making itself up as it goes along.

Hitchcock Screenings Downtown

In “North By Northwest” Madison Avenue advertising man Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) finds himself thrust into the world of spies when he gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity. “North By Northwest” plays Sunday, May 11 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater.

Hitchcock followed his big budget Hollywood thriller with the low budget film that became his most popular and acclaimed; “Psycho” uses Hitchcock's signature choreography of cinematic elements to tell the tale of a lonely motel keeper haunted by his strict and reclusive mother. “Psycho” plays Tuesday, May 13 at 7 PM.