Walker's Reviews: It's Kind of a Funny Story, Jack Goes Boating, Never Let me Go
KCUR Arts Reporter Steve Walker keeps us up-to-date on current art-house showings
It's Kind of a Funny Story (PG-13)
Though the movie (directed by Anna Bowden and Ryan Fleck of "Half-Nelson") is being advertised as something akin to a raunchy Judd Apatow yuckfest, the film is something much more: a serio-comic look at mental illness and the bonds one might find on the floor of a psychiatric hospital. The misguided hype is obviously attributed to the presence of Zach Galifianakis, who shows a depth here that his often hilarious comedy work suppresses. He plays a suicidal father who befriends a teenager (the very fine Kier Gilchrest) who has committed himself for thinking he wants to die rather than battle his depression. If it sounds morbid, it's not, and though there are some comic moments, there are many more human and smart ones.
Jack Goes Boating (R)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman both directs and stars in this adaptation of Bob Glaudini's Off-Broadway play about 4 people beset with low stakes relationship drama. Hoffman plays a limo driver with a crush on his best friend's wife's co-worker, Connie, a telemarketer at a funeral home played by the charming Amy Ryan (who was so funny on "The Office" and so terrifying in her Oscar-nominated performance in "Gone Baby Gone"). As these two socially and sexually awkward loners try to construct a relationship, their mutual friends' marriage crumbles in front of them. It's a low-key movie that is kicked a notch above where it probably should be thanks to Hoffman's and Ryan's honest, lived-in performances.
Never Let Me Go (R)
Three of England's best young actors- Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield - elevate this often monotone adaptation of an eerie sci-fi novel by "Remains of the Day" author Kazuo Ishiguro. Director Mark Romanek doesn't appear to be capable of giving the story - an examination of a creepy boarding school where students are reared to be organ donors - the weight, humanity, or emotional variance it deserves, but that's not for his cast's lack of trying. Mulligan is radiant and Garfield angry and brooding, while Knightley's gaunt frame is used here to devastating effect. Sally Hawkins and Charlotte Rampling are wonderful as well in small but critical roles.