The three films that compose James Ponsoldt’s Addiction Trilogy – Smashed, The Spectacular Now, and The End of the Tour - are, if not about addiction and vice, about singular points of view. The throughline equation found in each film finds a couplet, typically sharing a mutual worldview, rattled when one member departs from their prescribed deviance. Each film acknowledges and aligns itself with a singular perspective: Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in Smashed, Sutter (Miles Teller) in The Spectacular Now, and David (Jesse Eisenberg) in The End of the Tour are the nuclei whereby the wayward actions of those around them orbit and react. Well-intentioned and emotionally touching, the thematic similarities found in Ponsoldt’s films exhibit a director with a capacity for extracting quality performances. Yet in his new film The End of the Tour, Ponsoldt’s sincerity bequeaths simplicity, revealing the director’s limitations as a purveyor of emotions, and his inability to expound on their consequences in any meaningful formal way.Read More
The Spectacular Now will be released sometime in August. This is an early review.
James Ponsoldt’s follow-up to Smashed elevates the director to an unexpected level. Smashed impressed for its poignancy and ability to capture the rhythms of the day-to-day lives of its characters. But what The Spectacular Now accomplishes is significant step forward for a director clearly capable of capturing the tumultuous growth and anxieties associated with aging. While the central character in Smashed was rollicked into the realization of her dilapidating addiction, the characters in The Spectacular Now are in a sensitive period of adolescence where their misgivings are still relegated to childhood antics. But their growing awareness of the shifts in time and Ponsoldt’s ability to instill a sense of melancholic growth, gives the “now” in the picture’s title frighteningly complex implications.Read More
2013 has been a busy year thus far. With plenty to focus on outside the realm of the cinema (i.e.; real life) my attention to my blog has been somewhat diverted. But as things begin to settle, I’m hoping I can keep my focus on developing Chicago Cinema Circuit. It has been a solid year on both the art house and mainstream Hollywood front, with plenty of intriguing films scheduled for release within the next few months. So expect the month of April to be a busy one for the site: more reviews, more columns, and the rollout of a major project I’ve embarked on.Read More