When you stick hundreds of New Yorkers into a space the size of an amphitheatre, filled with over 80 of the five borough’s top restaurants, alcoholic beverages, and desserts, and tell them it’s “all-you-can-eat and drink,” what happens?
Last Night What actually transpires in Last Night is beside the point. It’s the possibility that something might happen, specifically in the form of extramarital hanky-panky, that creates the bulk of the tension in Massy Tadjedin’s romantic drama. Joanna (Keira Knightley) and Michael Reed (Sam Worthington) have been happily married for seven years when Michael introduces his wife to his new coworker, an exotic bombshell named Laura (Eva Mendes, once again reduced to a homewrecking fetish object).
While Michael and Laura are out of town on business, Joanna runs into Alex (Guillaume Canet), an old flame for whom she still burns, turning the film into a messy orgy of distrust and betrayal. Sumptuous but slow as woebegone molasses, Tadjedin’s directorial debut is shot through with all sorts of signifiers that suggest longing and distance: lungful cigarette drags, clinking cubes of ice in drained tumblers. A poor man’s Closer, to be sure, but Last Night is also a thoughtful, tangled meditation on the rarity of enduring love. —Nick Haramis
Everything Must Go When Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy gets canned from his job and has a milk-fueled meltdown in Anchorman, it’s supposed to be funny. Ferrell has made a career of playing the despair of emotionally stunted men for laughs, but in Everything Must Go, based on a short story by Raymond Carver, Ferrell’s midlife crisis—emphasis on the crisis—is nothing to snicker at. As Nick Halsey, a downbeat alcoholic who loses his job and returns home to find his worldly possessions scattered across the front lawn—his fed-up wife has cut him off and kicked him out—he’s got nothing to do but drink his days away. His only destination: the gas station for more cans of PBR. (Alcoholism is depicted here with a brutal banality.) This being a movie, Nick must somehow find redemption, however slight. Enter the beautiful-but-damaged neighbor (Rebecca Hall) and a wayward boy (Christopher Jordan Wallace, Jr., son of the late rap icon), who help Nick reclaim his life by cleansing it, in the form of a yard sale. A brief but warm cameo by Laura Dern as an old classmate provides a heartbreaking look at the man Nick used to be, and a hopeful glimpse of the man he could become. —Ben Barna
Dumbstruck Television producer Mark Goffman marks his feature directorial debut with a heartfelt documentary that follows five extraordinary people—amateurs and professionals—immersed in the world of ventriloquism as they prepare for the annual Vent Haven ConVENTion in Kentucky. The generous-spirited narrative allows us to connect with Goffman’s subjects and their emotional attachments to these inanimate dolls, and what feels at first like a Christopher Guest spoof quickly develops into something genuine. Even though Dumbstruck strikes some emotional chords (Wilma, for example, is a loner struggling not to lose her house), there are still moments of genuine comedy that bring to life the original purpose of the art form itself: to make people laugh. —Hillary Weston
L’Amour Fou Pierre Thoretton’s L’Amour Fou honors one of the most creative minds of the 20th century, French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Told through the eyes of Saint Laurent’s devoted lover and business partner, Pierre Bergé, the documentary chronicles their lives together, exploring everything from success and fame to the harrowing reality of Saint Laurent’s drug addiction and depression. Rendered with a patina of opulence, the film’s aesthetic lavishness is undercut by a tremendous sense of despair, mirroring the great dichotomy of Saint Laurent’s disparate lives in and out of the spotlight. —HW