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Top Picks - Arkansas Daily Deal

HOME MOVIES

By Karen Martin

This article was published January 17, 2014 at 2:27 a.m.

Enough Said, directed by Nicole Holofcener (PG-13, 91 minutes)

A refreshingly straightforward, funny, awkward and touching look at middle-age dating and relationships, Enough Said focuses on divorced mom Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a Los Angeles masseuse who is dreading the impending departure of her daughter for college. In an effort to expand her reach into the world around her, she becomes friends with client Marianne (Catherine Keener), and meets divorced museum curator Albert (James Gandolfini), who is kind and gentle and also soon to experience his child leaving home. Though Eva finds herself falling for this overweight, sloppy, endearing suitor, she begins to question the wisdom of their romance when she learns about his ex-wife.

“As the film entirely depends on the chemistry of its leads, it’s wonderful [if more than a little sad] to watch the easy camaraderie and good humor of Gandolfini, a seriously underrated comic actor (who died June 19), play off of a firecracker like Louis-Dreyfus,” says our film critic Piers Marchant. “Unlike her more famous TV roles (Elaine from Seinfeld and Selina Meyer from Veep), Louis-Dreyfus gets a chance here to steer away from her famously prickly comic persona. Eva isn’t overbearing or domineering. She’s big-hearted, but terrified of what that might lead her into. She’s a woman caught between the wisdom of her feelings and the questioning she anticipates from everyone else.” With Tony Collette; directed by Nicole Holofcener.

The Spectacular Now (R, 99 minutes) Directed by James Ponsoldt, this unique, humane, unsentimental and intelligent it’s-time-to-grow up film is centered on the belief of charismatic, conniving high school senior Sutter (Miles Teller) that he is in the best of times right now and intends to enjoy each day to the fullest rather than think about what the future might hold. But when his girlfriend dumps him and his growing dependence on alcohol catches up to him, Sutter begins to wonder if his carefree approach to life is really working. With Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle Chandler, Shailene Woodley.

Fruitvale Station (R, 90 minutes) A passionate, powerful film directed by Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station follows 22-year-old Oscar Grant (wonderfully played by Michael B. Jordan) who decides on the morning of New Year’s Eve to become a better boyfriend and a better father and shed some of the habits that have haunted him throughout early adulthood. But as he ventures through his day, he realizes turning things around will be more complicated than he realized - especially when he’s on the Bay Area Rapid Transit train and a fight breaks out. Based on a true story. With Octavia Spencer.

20 Feet From Stardom (PG-13, 89 minutes) This energetic and entertaining documentary by Morgan Neville puts the spotlight on back-up singers - among them Lisa Fischer, Merry Clayton and Darlene Love - who have an absolutely vital place in popular music but seldom receive much individual recognition. With comments by David Bowie, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Bette Midler and Mick Jagger.

Short Term 12 (R, 96 minutes) Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, this is one of the best films of 2013, a rigorously honest and unsentimental portrayal of Grace (Brie Larson), a 20-something supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers who’s passionately committed to her work, her romance with colleague Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) and a dangerously unbalanced new arrival who may remind her of her troubled past. With Kevin Hernandez, Kaitlyn Dever, Keith Stanfield.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (PG-13, 132 minutes) This is an ambitious, sweeping and unevenly paced biography of dignified, restrained Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), who works his way up from domestic servant to the coveted position of White House butler, serving many presidents (among them Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Kennedy and Johnson) over dozens of tumultuous years. His job allows him to become a passive spectator to the making of history, while his personal life exposes him to the troubles of alcoholism, as experienced by his unsettled wife (Oprah Winfrey) and the burgeoning civil rights movement as experienced by his politically militant son Louis (David Oyelowo). With Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Jane Fonda, Alan Rickman.

Carrie (R, 100 minutes) A watchable but none-too scary remake of Brian de Palma’s 1976 horror classic of the same name, Carrie stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a shy small-town girl with a deeply religious and severely strict mother (Julianne Moore). Considered a freak and an outcast by everyone at her school, Carrie eventually discovers that she has developed telekinetic powers that are exhibited in dangerous ways during times of stress - like when she’s victimized by a cruel prank at the senior prom. Directed by Kimberly Peirce.

MovieStyle, Pages 37 on 01/17/2014

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