Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Family Ties: The Boy & The Concert

NOWHERE BOY [***1/2]
(Sam Taylor-Wood, 2009, UK, 95 mins.)

In "Mother," John Lennon sang, "You had me, but I never had you." Fine artist-turned-filmmaker Sam Taylor-Wood delves into the story behind those words, starting with a 15-year-old Lennon (Kick-Ass's Aaron Johnson), who lives in Liverpool with his Uncle George (David Threlfall) and Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas, all pin-curls and British reserve). George's death spurs Lennon to seek out Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), his birth mother, who turns out to be fun and flirtatious (their scenes together carry a subtle sexual tension).

The mother of two, Julia enjoys reconnecting with her son, even if the man in her life (David Morrissey) doesn't share her enthusiasm. She introduces John to rock & roll and teaches him how to play the banjo, but she also suffers from mood swings. Torn between the mother who raised him and the one who gave him life, John funnels his frustrations into music, forming the Quarrymen, but then he meets Paul McCartney, and revamps the line-up to work in George Harrison and Stu Sutcliffe (whose story fueled Backbeat). If John's relationship with Julia didn't come to a happy end, she would have a profound effect on his life--and inspire this tenderhearted tribute.

Click here for full-length review.

Show times: 5/22, 7pm, and 5/23, 1:15pm,
at the Neptune; and 5/27, 7pm, at the Admiral.

THE CONCERT / Le Concert [**1/2]
(Radu Mihaileanu, 2009, France, 119 mins.)

A cynic might call The Concert sentimental, a curmudgeon might call it shame-
less, but only a stone could fail to feel something by this crowd-pleasing comedy's emotional conclusion. It begins in Russia with former Bolshoi conductor Andreï (Alexei Guskov). In 1981, when Brezhnev ordered him to fire his Jewish players, he refused, lost his job, turned to the bottle, and now works as a janitor. His best friend, Sacha (Dmitri Nazaro), a cello player, has remained loyal to the Maestro ever since.

When Andrei intercepts a fax meant for the head of the orchestra, Sacha goes along with his scheme to get the gang back together, pass themselves off as the Bolshoi, travel to Paris, and perform with Anne-Marie (Mélanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds). Andrei just happens to have a connection to her that the violinist's manager, Guylène (Miou-Miou), has kept secret for 29 years. After a series of slapstick misadventures, music and secrets come tumbling out. Radu Mihaileanu keeps things humming a-
long--with an assist from Tchaikovsky--but offers few real surprises, so it's fortu-
nate that his leads give such convincing performances, since most of the other
characters (the unctuous official, the crafty gypsy) cross the line into caricature.

Click here for full-length review.

Show times: 5/21, 7pm, at the Egyptian; 5/23, 1:30pm, at the
Egyptian; and 5/28, 7pm, at the Everett Performing Arts Center.

First week recommendations: Fatih Akin's Soul Kitchen,
Christian Carion's Farewell, and Mona Achache's The Hedgehog.

Soul Kitchen: 5/21, 7pm, at the Uptown; and 5/23, 1pm, at the Uptown.
Farewell: 5/29, 6:30pm, at the Egyptian; 5/31, 3pm, at the Everett
Performing Arts Center; and 6/12, 6:30pm, at the Uptown.
The Hedgehog: 5/28, 7pm, at the Uptown; and 5/30, 4pm, at the Uptown.

Endnote: As always, dates and times are subject to change. Please visit the official website for more information. Images from Creative Boom and Art Act Magazine.
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