√ BOB CERTIFIED
There is much to like and admire about this feel-good story about a teen-ager who is so alarmed by his lingering depression that he checks himself into a Brooklyn hospital psych ward. This isn’t a “big” film and it’s all the better for it. First, the writing-direction team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck never let the temperature of the comedy/drama get much beyond a simmer; by wisely avoiding dramatic or comedic explosions, they keep the movie intimate, sweet and engaging. As the troubled teen, Keir Gilchrist maneuvers the entire 90 or so minutes with a convincing reserve. But the marvel of the film is Zach Galifianakis, whose film-stealing performance was as memorable as Jack Black’s splash in “High Fidelity.” While Black, however, soon became so self-conscious on the screen that he lost his early charm, Zach keeps getting better. He was sensational in his small role in the under-rated comedy “Dinner for Schmucks” and here he tops everything he’s done by far in a role that combines both low-key comedy (not the over the top style of the earlier films) and dramatic moments that require considerable vulnerability and depth. If he can avoid Black’s tendency to constantly repeat himself, Zach may turn out to be one of the cinematic wonders of the new decade.
YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER
Promising start turns lazy
Watching the latest Woody Allen movie (he just writes and directs, doesn’t act) feels a lot like having lunch with an old friend who is a wonderful storyteller. The characters are universal, yet eccentric (from Anthony Hopkins in late-life crisis to Naomi Watts in mid-life crisis) and it’s fun as Allen introduces us to them in moments of turmoil. But gradually you realize that this is all too easy; Allen probably made the whole thing up on the way to the lunch. The characters end up on such familiar paths that they almost seem to have been abandoned by the film-maker. The visit with the old friend turns out to be pleasant, but nothing even remotely memorable. You look forward to the next lunch, but hope he has something a little revealing to say.