STORY WRITTEN BY NATHAN LERNER
For Digital First Media
The film is a largely fictional film, but takes its inspiration from a true event. John Lennon had once written a letter to Steve Tilston, who at the time was an up and coming singer-songwriter. Forty years later, Tilston finally received the diverted epistle.
Here, the protagonist, played by Al Pacino, is renamed Danny Collins and portrays a musician who was vastly more successful than Tilston actually was. Now in his 70s, Danny is still a popular act, with an active tour schedule. Following a sobering talk with his manager (Christopher Plummer), Danny reaches an impasse in both his career and personal life.
Danny has an estranged son (Bobby Cannavale), who is the product of the singer’s tryst with a groupie. Danny’s son spurns efforts to reconcile. Is there any way that Danny can convince him to change his mind?
In addition to Pacino, Plummer, and Cannavale, the rest of the cast is also excellent. Annette Bening plays a crusty hotel concierge, who is decidedly not a fan of Danny’s music or his schtick. Jennifer Garner is Danny’s well-grounded daughter-in-law and an adorable Giselle Eisenberg is his ADD afflicted granddaughter.
Dan Fogelman wrote the screenplay and makes his directorial debut. He previously wrote the screenplay for “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
At the Ritz East (125 Sansom Street Walkway). R (for language, drug use, some nudity) 106 minutes. Opens on Friday, April 3.
Just in case the six prior permutations of “The Fast and the Furious” didn’t satiate your appetite, don’t despair. “Furious 7” is on the horizon. This marks the final episode in the franchise.
Midway through the shooting schedule, Paul Walker died in a fatal car accident. The producers considered abandoning the project altogether. Instead, they implemented a work-around. This included a makeshift rewrite, explaining Walker’s absence, as well as the use of his brothers, Cody and Caleb, as body doubles.
The film reunites the rest of cast. That means Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodiguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, and Ludacris will all be on hand.
The film returns to Japan, where “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” was set. Jason Stathan joins the cast as a glowering villain. Iggy Azalea is rumored to provide a cameo and musical contributions.
Prior director, Justin Lin, is replaced by James Wan. The latter’s background is in horror films, such as “Saw” and “Insidious.”
Opens wide on Thursday, April 2 PG-13 (for prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action and mayhem, suggestive content and brief strong language) 137 minutes.
“Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter”
Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) is an office worker in downtown Tokyo. She has a terrible boss, an overbearing mother, and is treated abusively by her peers. It is no surprise that she feels profoundly alienated.
Her only joy derives from having discovered a VHS copy of the Coen Brothers’ film, “Fargo.” Unfortunately, she mistakes the crime noir for reality. She heads to Minnesota intent upon digging up the hidden treasure, depicted in the film.
The film is written by brothers, Nathan and David Zellner, and directed by the latter. Some have suggested that the film was inspired by the death of Takako Konsishi. However, the filmmakers have vehemently denied it.
“Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter” won two Independent Spirit Awards, for Best Director and Best Female Lead.
Opens on Friday, April 3 at the Ritz Bourse (4th & Ranstead Streets) No MPAA rating. 105 minutes
“Strangers on a Train”
As part of the Philadelphia Film Society’s Hitchcock ’48-’55, the director’s classic psychological thriller, “Strangers on a Train” will receive three screenings in 35 mm.
While traveling aboard a train, a famed tennis star, Guy Haines (Farley Granger), meets a sociopath, Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker). Guy would love to be rid of his promiscuous wife (Laura Elliott). The adulterous slut has become pregnant by another man. Guy wants a divorce so that he can marry another woman (Ruth Roman). She is the daughter of a U.S. Senator (Leo G. Carroll), who could pave the way to a political career for Guy. Bruno wants to eliminate his father-in-law, a rich, meddlesome man.
Bruno suggests that it would prove mutually convenient if they each murdered the other man’s encumbrance. He couldn’t be serious? Or could he?
This is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s many masterpieces. It epitomizes his consummate skill at crafting mystery dramas. This film is marked by its cleverly twisted plot, rich atmosphere, and brilliant shot constructions. Look for the celebrated shot of criss-crossing railroad tracks. It is visually stunning and conveys powerful metaphorical resonance.
The film was adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1950 debut novel. Although the author’s novels were often limned by Hollywood, this adaptation remains the most celebrated cinematic treatment of her work.
At the Roxy Theater (2043 Sansom Street) Monday April 6th @2 p.m. ; Wednesday April 8th @ 2 p.m.; and Thursday April 9th @ 2 p.m. 101 minutes (Originally released in 1951).
“Woman in Gold”
This drama is inspired by the U.S. Supreme Court case of Republic of Austria v. Altmann. The formidable Helen Mirrren plays Maria Altmann, an Austrian born Jew. She managed to escape her native country before the Holocaust. However, her family was exterminated.
Maria’s beloved aunt had posed for Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. The painting hung in a place of honor in Hannah’s childhood home. However, it was seized by Nazi officials during World War II. What chance does Maria have to recover the portrait, which has been described as Austria’s Mona Lisa?
Maria retains the services of an inexperienced attorney, E. Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds). Maria pressures the reluctant lawyer to represent her in this seemingly quixotic quest.
The film is directed by Simon Curtis (“My Week with Marilyn”).
Opens at the Ritz Five (128 Walnut Street) on Wednesday, April 1. PG-13 (for some thematic elements and brief strong language) 109 minutes
Nathan Lerner sees over 200 feature films a year. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org