Movie Reviews. From the Hip.


"What should we see this weekend?"

"Will that be any good?"

"What would DORIEN SAY?"

... Here's what DORIEN SEZ.

Welcome to the premiere movie reviewer that JUDGES FILMS BEFORE THEY COME OUT! Armed only with a few previews and a crack-shot snap judgment, I bring you the most succinct, accurate, and cocksure film reviews this side of the River Wild... which sucked!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

BEING FLYNN (March 2nd)

Sure, ohh sure, we've seen movies like this before: a father/son coming-of-age drama with a literary zag that deals with issues of abandonment, art, family, and forgiveness.  There are few surprises as far as story arc goes, and the love/hate/resent/admire relationship between dad and boy has been done aplenty -- up the ying yank, in fact.  But if the execution is honest and the performances compelling, cliches may be overcome, and the result can be a very good movie.  Happily, Being Flynn is damn fine, thanks to a screenplay faithful to the compelling source memoir, and the acting stones of Paul Dano, Julianne Moore, and father to us all, Robert De Niro.

P. Dano plays Nick Flynn, a poet and writer who has been estranged from his father nearly all his life, until he encounters him while volunteering in a homeless shelter.  Jonathan Flynn (Bobby D.) is an alcoholic con man, a bum who ran away from his responsibility to his family decades ago, spent years in prison, and is now living on the streets of Boston.  (We haven't seen Bob looking this shabby since his ransom photo in Killer Elite.)  The chance encounter forces Dano to face his complex feelings about his father, and in spite of his anger, he reaches out to form some kind of relationship.  What results is a powerful experience for them both, and a roller coaster thrill-ride of subtle emotion for the audience.  I've met Dano haters in my day, and I disagree with them.  Paul held his own alongside Double-Down Lewis in There Will Be Blood, and he likewise delivers a sincere and controlled performance here.  No one plays a sensitive, desperately sad woman like Julianne Moore, and she once again shows herself to be brilliant as the dead mother.  Plus, fans of righteous ass-kicking will be happy to find Wes Studi as a punishing office administrator!

In the role of Old Man Flynn, Mr. De Niro proves that you can't keep a good dog down, even one who's clearly enjoyed resting these past few years.  The 21st century has not boasted the finest films of his career, and even those in which he gave great performances (Men of Honor, Machete, Stone) failed to surpass the good-but-forgettable quality bar.  But Being Flynn is a reminder that despite his endeavors as a producer, director, restauranteur, and all-around gentleman, Bob De N. remains the god damn acting king.  His portrayal of Flynn is moving, complex, and electric like a taser.  He is at once charming, despicable, pathetic, and funny, and as he veers into madness and spontaneous outbursts of extreme emotion, we are grateful to see the master in a role worthy of his ability.  And for those who love to quote angry Bobby D. rantings from his films, there are some hilarious new gems!  ("YOU ARE ME. I MADE YOU. YOU! ARE! ME!")  Classic!

This is director Paul Weitz's best film, but that's not saying much.  American Pie speaks for itself; Little Fockers is damn near unwatchable; About A Boy? about some bullshit; and no non-clown has ever seen and enjoyed Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant.  Alas, Being Flynn is just a little too polished for its own good.  Certain moments would do better without the queueing of a stirring musical underscore, and some of the emotional loose ends are tied up a bit neatly for my taste.  They also should never have changed the title from Another Bullshit Night In Suck City.  Even so, this film's a good'un.  It'll throat-lump fans of the father/son drama, and while it might not nab De Niro his next acting trophy (we'll have to wait until Sean Penn's The Comedian for that), it's great to watch the Maestro at work.

Think about it this way, guys.  Being Flynn is to Finding Forrester what minestrone soup is to vomit: it looks kind of similar, but it is much, much better.

Dorien Sez: B+
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