TRAILER PARK: How Do You Know, Barney's Version and Green Lantern,
By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic
HOW DO YOU KNOW
The trailer for this Christmas-timed romantic comedy basically tells you everything and nothing, which is better than the standard practice of divulging the entire plot, but also leaves you wondering what to care about...if anything. The film is reportedly about a love triangle between a woman (Reese Witherspoon) and two men (Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd), but you wouldn't know that from watching the trailer. What do you know about "How Do You Know?" Well, it's directed by James L. Brooks, and it co-stars Jack Nicholson, who worked with Brooks on the extraordinary "Terms of Endearment" and "As Good As It Gets." But something tells me lightning won't be striking thrice here.
In "Barney's Version," Paul Giamatti continues to heighten the artistry of his near-peerless ability to make everyday schleps deep and endearing. This drama follows his character, Barney, through a long stretch of his life, from marriages to divorces, dates to children, hardships to high times. The costars include Dustin Hoffman, Scott Speedman, Minnie Driver and the lovely Rosamund Pike ("An Education," "Made in Dagenham") as Barney's soulmate. The film, which seems moving if a bit generic, is an eleventh hour awards hopeful, and from the looks of Giamatti's work, the actor may just have a shot at some recognition.
Ryan Reynolds dons a CG supersuit in "Green Lantern," the latest comic book movie that promises big and bold new things, but will likely deliver more of the same old, same old. The effects here look disappointing, as does the choice of Blake Lively as a jet-flying love interest. How many superhero origin stories have there been? Can't we ever just pick up with a hero when their story is already in progress? When they've already bagged a baddie or two? The upside here is Peter Sarsgaard, who plays an exceptionally ugly villain. The versatile actor may be the movie's only shot at individuality.