‘Don Jon’ is endearing, ‘Enough Said’ is sweet and ‘Rush’ is riveting

Among the new movies that were released Friday, Sept. 27 in theaters throughout the Valley are Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, one of James Gandolfini’s final film and Ron Howard’s biopic about Formula One racing.

+1

Rhys Wakefield, Logan Miller and Suzanne Dengel play college friends who go to the biggest party of the year, where mysterious phenomenon disrupts the night, quickly descending into a chaos that challenges their friendships – and their ability to stay alive. Playing exclusively at the FilmBar. (NR – 95 minutes)

If you attempt to think about it too much, “+1” can quickly bring about a big headache. That is to say that director Dennis Iliadis’s new party flick with a sci-fi twist gets increasingly more complicated as time goes on. However, if you forget about trying to figure out what is happening and simply succumb to the existential experience, you are likely to be entertained. Moreover, the movie has got some incredibly insightful ideas about how our actions always seem to catch up with us as well as how our true selves always seem to be in conflict with our self-images. (Thumbs Up!)

Blue Caprice

Tequan Richmond plays an abandoned boy who is lured to America and drawn into the shadow of a dangerous father figure (Isaiah Washington). Inspired by the real life events that led to the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. Playing exclusively at Harkins Shea. (R – 93 minutes)

“Blue Caprice” cruises along at a near crawl to a grand finale that, unfortunately, is neither exciting nor insightful. The new drama, which is said to be inspired by the real life events that led to the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks, takes an extremely artistic approach to violence. That is to say we do not see anything. And that would be all well and good except for the fact that we do not feel or think anything, either. Instead, we merely observe obscurity as director Alexandre Moors seemingly tries too hard to avoid anything that could be considered controversial. (Thumbs Down!)

Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a New Jersey guy who, dedicated to his family, friends and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching pornography and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love. Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore also star. (R – 90 minutes)

“Don Jon” is not only a superb movie; it is also an exceptional example of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s tremendous talent as both an actor and, as it turns out, a filmmaker as well. The new guy-friendly romantic dramedy is sweet, charming and endearing without ever losing its cool edge. Gordon-Levitt does lay it on a bit thick near the end, stumbling slightly with a subplot involving Julianne Moore, but the movie remains remarkably relatable and extremely entertaining throughout as it culminates with an admirable and naturally absorbed message about the euphoria that can be experienced when one loses their self in another person. (Thumbs Up!)

Enough Said

Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays a divorced woman who, upon deciding to pursue the man (James Gandolfini) she is interested in, learns that he is her new friend’s (Catherine Keener) ex-husband. Playing exclusively at Harkins Camelview. (PG-13 – 91 minutes)

“Enough Said” is not only exceptionally charming, featuring the incredibly cute and charismatic pairing of stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini; it is also thoroughly thought-provoking, encouraging us to consider what things might be dealbreakers in our relationships and what things we might be willing to live with. The new romantic comedy boasts a career-best performance from Louis-Dreyfus – whose very telling facial expressions are a never-ending source of entertainment – and incredibly clever script from writer/director Nicole Holofcener – who has an uncanny knack for creating dialogue that is fantastically frank and therefore infinitely funny. (Thumbs Up!)

Inequality for All

Filmmaker Jacob Kornbluth follows former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich as he looks to raise awareness of the country’s widening economic gap. Playing exclusively at Harkins Camelview. (PG – 85 minutes)

“Inequality for All” accomplishes the impossible. Filmmaker Jacob Kornbluth’s new documentary is not only interesting to people who ordinarily find politics to be prosaic but also effectively encourages them to speak up and take action. Kornbluth uses a down-to-earth approach and an entertaining character in former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich to keep general audiences engaged in the conversation from start to finish without ever dumbing down the discussion. When all is said and done, it is downright impossible for anyone to deny that inequality of wealth comes with consequences that make global warming look like spilled milk. (Thumbs Up!)

Rush

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl play two 1970 Formula One race car drivers – James Hunt and Niki Lauda – who push themselves to the breaking point of physical and psychological endurance, where there is no shortcut to victory and no margin for error. (R – 123 minutes)

The heavy accents, dual narration and sheer spontaneity of the story make it somewhat hard to get into “Rush” for at least a little while. However, you will inevitably be sucked into the path of the new movie’s exhilarating action – and life-affirming drama. Director Ron Howard places viewers directly in the driver’s seat to give them a first-person-point-of-view of not only the death-defying danger that racers voluntarily put themselves in but also the magnificently meaningful motivation behind competition – the cosmically constructive concept that a wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends. (Thumbs Up!)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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