Watch Richard review three movies in less time than it takes to make 72 million red blood cells! Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about Ben Affleck in “The Tender Bar,” the home invasion thriller “See For You” and the family drama “June Again.”
Richard joins hosts Jay Michaels and Jim Richards of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today we ask, “To Lick, Shoot and Suck, or NOT to Lick, Shoot and Suck?” and review the Ben Affleck coming-of-age story “The Tender Bar” (Amazon Prime), the Olivia Coleman drama “The Lost Daughter” (on Netflix) and the heartwarming “June Again” (VOD/Digital).
Richard joins CP24 to pay tribute to Sidney Poitier and have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including “The Tender Bar” (Amazon Prime), the Olivia Coleman drama “The Lost Daughter” (on Netflix) and the heartwarming “June Again” (VOD/Digital).
Richard joins CTV NewsChannel and anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Ben Affleck coming-of-age story “The Tender Bar” (Amazon Prime), the Olivia Coleman drama “The Lost Daughter” (on Netflix) and the heartwarming “June Again” (VOD/Digital).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Ben Affleck coming-of-age story “The Tender Bar” (Amazon Prime), the Olivia Coleman drama “The Lost Daughter” (on Netflix) and the heartwarming “June Again” (VOD/Digital).
There are many life lessons in “The Tender Bar,” a new easygoing drama starring Ben Affleck based on the life of journalist and author J.R. Moehringer, and now streaming on Amazon Prime. Set in and around The Dickens, a bar named after the author of “David Copperfield,” barstool wisdom about the value of books, education, taking care of your mother and “not keeping money like a drunk” in the front pocket of your shirt, abounds.
The story begins in 1973 Long Island. “Radar Love” by Golden Earring out of the car the car radio and the impressionable J.R. (played as a youngster by Daniel Ranieri) lives with his mom Dorothy (Lily Rabe) and cranky grandfather (Christopher Lloyd). His father, a radio DJ nicknamed The Voice (Max Martini), isn’t in the picture.
J.R.’s father figure is Uncle Charlie (Affleck), charming bookworm and owner of the Dickens. He is a font of advice, all of which J.R. soaks up “the male sciences” like a sponge. Charlie’s instructions range from the pragmatic—never order bar scotch neat—to the ideological—he urges J.R. to study philosophy. “You always do well in that class,” he says, “because there’s no right answers.”
Charlie’s guidance and the colorful regulars who populate the bar, like Bobo (Michael Braun) and Joey D (Matthew Delamater), help form J.R.’s young life. “When you’re 11 years old,” he says, “you want an Uncle Charlie.”
Cut to a decade later.
J.R., having inherited his Uncle Charlie’s love of storytelling and words, is a student at Yale, studying law but with aspirations to be a writer. Now played by Tye Sheridan, he falls in love with Sidney (Briana Middleton), a smart, “lower upper middle class” schoolmate who gives J.R. another lesson in heartbreak.
“The Tender Bar” is a low key coming-of-age story that works best when it has a glass in front of it. That is to say, when it concentrates on the Dickens and the life lessons young J.R. absorbs at the bar. Those scenes have a lovely nostalgic feel. Director George Clooney vividly recreates a time when ten-year-olds were sent to the local corner bar to by a pack of cigarettes for grandpa. Clooney sets the stage, but it is the actors who bring it to life.
As Affleck settles in to the character actor phase of his career, he’s doing some of his best work. His Uncle Charlie has an effortless charm, a fierce intellect and is a bit of a scoundrel. It’s a performance that feels perfectly shaped and worn in, like an old baseball glove.
The scenes Affleck shares with Ranieri provide the film’s highlights. The young actor, making his film debut, brings genuine curiosity to J.R., a kid who has been knocked around but who always has his eyes to the future. It’s a delightful performance. Sheridan nicely mirrors the character as a young adult, but it is Ranieri who makes us care about J.R.
“The Tender Bar” is a nicely crafted, circumspect look at J.R.’s life. The stakes feel low and big dramatic moments are few and far between, but this textured look at the importance of community, including the drunks at the bar, in the formative stages of J.R.’s life is an understated winner.
“Mojave” is so manly you can smell the sweat oozing off the screen. Two men, one a famous filmmaker, the other a serial killer go mano e’ mano for ninety tense minutes after a chance meeting in the desert. I would call their back-and-forth a cat and mouse game, but I can’t because they’re both dogs, charismatic anti-heroes with few likeable traits.
Thomas (Garrett Hedlund) is a tortured artist, a famous director struggling to edit his new movie as his personal life disintegrates. Like many he-men before him he takes off to the desert for some soul-searching with only two jugs of water, some smokes and a bottle of vodka as company. “A man goes to the desert to find out what you are,” he says, “if you’re anything at all.”
The Hemingway-esque idyll is interrupted by fellow traveler Jack (Oscar Isaac, who seems to be channelling Max Cady). He’s a silver tongue drifter—“I have poverty an obscurity and abundance,” he says.—with a dangerous aura and a rifle. When an existential campfire conversation turns violent, deadly mistakes are made and soon there will be a reckoning. Thomas and Jack’s desert dalliance continues in Los Angeles as the tension and body count rises.
“Mojave” tale of twisted justice is a Los Angeles noir, a dusty, sun-dappled thriller with hard-boiled dialogue that sounds snatched from Raymond Chandler novel. It’s the kind of movie where tight-lipped men sneer, “You should’ve killed me in the desert,” and a woman brushes off a pick up line with the words, “no thanks, I’m already in a sufficiently disturbing relationship.” The stylized dialogue by “The Departed” writer William Monahan (who wrote and directed this) skirts with parody, often sounding like a duel of bad guy clichés.
Not that it isn’t entertaining. Hedlund and Isaac make the most of Monahan’s musings—as do Mark Wahlberg in an extended cameo as an excitable drug-dealer-turned-film-producer and “The Hateful Eight’s” Walton Goggins who does a bang-on Jack Nicholson impression—and the dynamic between them is interesting. A flip of the coin is used as a metaphor for life and death (seen it before) but here it becomes a larger comment about the vagaries of Thomas and Jack’s life. Why was Thomas successful while Jack could never break through? Was it luck, a toss of the coin or is it about ability?
“Which of us is the sociopath?” asks Jack. “How many people did you leave behind… kill… on your trip up the [Hollywood] hill?”
It’s a question that lingers after the end credits roll but it is too bad that is the only remaining sentiment. “Mojave” is not nearly as profound as it thinks it is despite some good actors trying their best to bring real meaning to the script. Perhaps the most telling line of dialogue comes early on in a conversation between the leads. “Where are you going?” asks Jack.” “Nowhere in particular,” says Thomas. That’s the movie in a nutshell.