Half an hour into Paul Weitz's new comedy, Admission, it dawned on me that I was watching an Americanized About a Boy -- which admittedly was also directed by Weitz. Both movies are adapted from other people's novels; both cobble together families out of the waifs and strays of modern life.
But where About a Boy was both funny and wise about urban alienation, Admission settles for skin deep.
In the '70s and even into the '80s, exploitation movies used to come to us naked and innocent, rarely pretending to be anything more than what they were. Now, pictures intent on delivering cheap thrills tend to arrive dressed in art-house costumes, much like the ones Harmony Korine's killer college girls wear in his arch little sociological study, Spring Breakers.
For the Bronx graffiti artists of Gimme the Loot, Adam Leon's sweet, vibrant debut feature, "Bombing the Apple" is the holy grail of tagging achievements.
"The Apple" in question is the protuberance that emerges from behind the center-right wall in Shea Stadium â€” they refuse to acknowledge the corporate name Citi Field â€” every time a New York Mets player hits a home run.
Shot entirely in Hackney â€” a mostly ungentrified London borough â€” My Brother the Devil has a strong odor of authenticity. The main characters are of Egyptian origin, but their friends include people rooted in West Africa and the Caribbean. All are linked by poverty, alienation and a gangsta worldview popularized by American movies and hip-hop.