Slideshow: Movies out this Friday, photos and trailers

January 30, 2014 9:07 pm  • 
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  • Labor Day Extended Trailer #1 (2013) - Josh Brolin Movie HDDepressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.

  • If you've seen the trailer for "Labor Day," Jason Reitman's film based on the novel by Joyce Maynard, then you've caught a glimpse of a new breakout star, who threatens to upstage even the estimable Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin.

    No, we're not talking about young newcomer Gattlin Griffith, though he gives a lovely performance.

    We're talking about the peach pie.

    Seldom has a baked good assumed so prominent an onscreen role as in this film, where it serves both as catalyst and as metaphor, for, um, sex. Plenty of movies have displayed food worshipfully, but this scene more aptly recalls that moist clay on the potter's wheel in "Ghost," where ceramics were quite beside the point.

    Alas, both that clay and this pie hold together better than "Labor Day" does.

    Reitman is a talented filmmaker, as you'll know if you've seen "Juno" or "Up in the Air," to name just two. But those movies had key elements that "Labor Day" does not: Humor, and edge.

    It's understandable why there's no humor here; it's the story of a seriously depressed, divorced mother and her preteen son, and how their lives intersect one summer with an escaped convict, for a Labor Day weekend that will change all of them. Not much comedy there.

    But the lack of edge or irony is more serious. Reitman is so sincere in his presentation of this tale that we feel rather smothered by it. It doesn't help that the narration — by Tobey Maguire, as the grown-up son looking back — is often unnecessary, pounding in a point that we already got.

    And the prominent flashbacks, while occasionally useful, are also downright confusing at times. They make you want to go home and read the book, because it becomes clear that a book would do so much better a job of fleshing out these characters — and more importantly, explaining their actions.

    None of this takes away from the very appealing performances of Winslet and Brolin, not to mention the sensitive Griffith. At times, you don't even care that you don't quite believe what they're doing. You're just enjoying watching them do it.

    Winslet plays Adele, a mother whose depression makes her almost a hermit in her cluttered home in a New England town (gorgeously evoked in its summer glory by cinematographer Eric Steelberg.) We meet her and her seventh-grade son, Henry, as they're embarking on a shopping trip for school clothes.

    At the store, they're approached by a muscular, menacing man with a bloody wound. He asks them to take him home and let him rest. "Frankly, this needs to happen," he says.

    At home, Frank ties Adele to a chair. But from there, he departs from our preconceived notions of escaped-convict behavior, making a pot of chili that Rachael Ray would love, and spoon-feeding it to Adele. As the weekend proceeds, Frank, who we learn was convicted of murder long ago, fixes the squeaky floorboard. He cleans the gutters and irons the clothes.

    It gets better yet. When a neighbor delivers ripe peaches, Adele's ready to throw them away, but Frank has another idea: baking the best-looking pie you've ever seen. "I want to talk about crust," he tells mother and son, giving little tips like how crucial the salt is. Watching the pie rise in the oven, we want nothing more than to reach in and touch it. We wonder if there's any vanilla ice cream around...

    Oh right, the movie. Well, it's not hard to see how attractive Frank seems to Adele. Still, things move awfully, even implausibly fast.

    The drama heightens as we learn more about why Adele suffers the way she does, and why Frank ended up in prison. Thanks to some heartfelt acting — particularly from Winslet — we stay focused.

    But it's hard not to feel that this movie could have been so much better than it turned out.

    Something we won't say for that pie. That pie is perfect.

    "Labor Day," a Paramount Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "thematic material, brief violence and sexuality." Running time: 111 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

  • Inventor Tim Jenison seeks to understand the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.Subscribe to Moviefone Today: http://bit.ly/15j8XWVMoviefone is your destination for local showtimes, theatre information, film reviews and advance tickets. Watch our original series Unscripted (http://goo.gl/oIS0x), Six Second Reviews (http://goo.gl/knr7k), and Weekend Movie Preview (http://goo.gl/GQ6x7) right here! Moviefone's video property is a part of the AOL On Network.Get more MoviefoneRead: http://aol.it/YAb2twLike Moviefone: http://on.fb.me/Y3wMysFollow Moviefone: http://bit.ly/ZJkI9O

  • "Tim's Vermeer" is a simple little documentary that, in not 90 minutes, accomplishes nothing less than the demystification of artistic genius.

    We've long been romanticized by the concept of the divine artist, blessed with otherworldly talent. "Tim's Vermeer" isn't any less in awe of great masters like Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. It just proves masterworks take more than pixie dust: They take hard work.

    The film chronicles the unlikely discovery of a Texas inventor, Tim Jenison, who believes he's found the key to how the 17th-century artist painted with such photorealistic detail 150 years before the daguerreotype. Conspiracy theories have abounded, many of them focusing on his possible use of camera obscura (a device that projects an image on a wall or screen).

    Jenison's belief is that some of Vermeer's most famous paintings (he left behind 34) were done not just with a camera obscura-like contraption, but with a mirror that enabled him to exactly copy the images reflected. By creating a rough approximate of this, Jenison (who had never painted before in his life) finds he can draw brilliantly detailed paintings.

    He sets out to prove his theory by exactly reproducing Vermeer's "The Music Lesson," recreating the precise conditions Vermeer painted in. Jenison turns a San Antonio warehouse into a replica of Vermeer's studio, right down to period-accurate lenses, paint dyes and costumes. It took nearly a year to build the studio, and four more to paint his Vermeer.

    Jenison is a bearish, inquisitive engineer who made millions with the early computer graphics software company he founded, NewTek. He's a tinkerer, who has continued to channeled his curiosity into myriad inventions. He also happens to be buddies with the illusionist duo Penn and Teller, who decided to document Jenison's audacious experiment. Teller (the silent one) directs, while Penn Jillette (a producer) serves as an on-camera interviewer in the film.

    It's a great irony that a story about the difficult realities behind a captivating image should come from a pair of illusionists. Part of the drama in "Tim's Vermeer" comes from always expecting Jillette to suddenly pull the rug out and yell "Presto!" — and reveal their film to be merely a clever put-on.

    But magicians are really craftsman who labor through endless practice to perfect a smooth sleight of hand and seamless misdirection. In Vermeer, they recognize a fellow illusionist, one who has shrouded his astonishing technique in mystery for centuries.

    And Jenison's tedious demonstration ("like watching paint dry," he jokes) is quite convincing. He also gains the endorsement of famed British artist David Hockney, whose book "Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters" argued that lenses and optics went into masterpieces by da Vinci, Caravaggio and others.

    Whether "Tim's Vermeer" proves unequivocally how Vermeer worked is a question for art historians, not film critics. But the film — an ode to craftsmanship — establishes without a doubt that many of the traits we reserve for other fields — dedication, ingenuity — are also inherent to the artistic process. Ta-da.

    "Tim's Vermeer," a Sony Pictures Classics release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for some strong language. Running time: 80 minutes. Three stars out of four.

  • That Awkward Moment Official Trailer 2014 HD

  • As Zac Efron tears up and professes his love to a pert blonde who gave it up on the first night, it's clear the story line of romantic comedy "That Awkward Moment" has gone too far.

    This is not because Efron's leading lady isn't captivating or that a fella can't fall in love swiftly. But this revelatory moment required a compelling buildup — and an actor who could carry it out believably.

    For his first film, writer-director Tom Gormican attempts a chick flick from a male point of view. But unlike successful films of this kind, such as "High Fidelity," ''Awkward Moment" unfolds like a college thesis with a big budget.

    Jason (Efron) is a Manhattan pretty boy who designs book covers. He believes in having a "roster" of women and picks them up at bars and takes them home that night. Though he occasionally calls for round two, he keeps women at a safe, commitment-free distance.

    Miles Teller plays Jason's quirky best friend, co-worker and fellow lothario, Daniel. Though he's not as handsome as Jason, he has no problem hooking ladies with his wit and with the help of wing-woman Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis).

    The third link in the guys' crew is Mikey (Michael B. Jordan, "Fruitvale Station"), a doctor who married his college sweetheart at 23. He's the voice of reason — level-headed, loyal and romantic. But when he finds out wife Vera (Jessica Lucas) is cheating on him, he can't understand where his perfect life plan went wrong.

    Determined to lift their pal's spirits, Jason and Daniel take Mikey to a bar and encourage him to become their lady-killing cohort as they all make a pact to stay relationship-free.

    Unfortunately, they all end up breaking the pact: Jason falls for sassy publisher Ellie (Imogen Poots); Daniel realizes he wants to be more than friends with Chelsea; and Mikey begins sleeping with his wife again.

    Though "Awkward Moment" is predictable, it's not a complete disappointment. It's satisfying for a lover of formulaic rom-coms.

    There are amusing moments of absurdity involving Viagra and urination. And sweet bits, like Jason's surprise tour of Ellie's dream Gramercy Park apartment.

    And there's an attempt to inject some heaviness as Ellie's father dies. But despite Jason and Ellie's budding romance, Jason is a no-show at Ellie's father's funeral. As a result, Ellie cuts him off. But Gormican fails to show Jason's efforts to get Ellie back and falls short of making Efron's character anything but selfish and egocentric. So when Jason cries in front of a bookstore full of people while declaring Ellie's "the one," it's unconvincing.

    Set against lofty talents like Jordan and Teller (fresh off the top Sundance award for his "Whiplash"), Efron comes off as little more than a pretty face. Luckily, his comedic timing is on target, though most of the jokes here are unnecessarily crass and forced.

    Each emerging actress possesses a refreshing charm and on-screen easiness. But Davis' grace and lure, though she wasn't completely believable as a romantic match for Teller's Daniel, make her the one to watch.

    With much of the soundtrack consisting of 1980s new wave that would make John Hughes proud, the tunes are the only potential cult classic trait here. Well, that and tying everything up with a neat "love conquers all" bow.

    "That Awkward Moment," a Focus Features release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for "sexual content and language throughout." Running time: 94 minutes. Two stars out of four.

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