Yelchin brings truth to 'Like Crazy'

  • An American (Anton Yelchin) and a British exchange student (Felicity Jones) attempt to preserve their romance in the well-wrought drama "Like Crazy."

    An American (Anton Yelchin) and a British exchange student (Felicity Jones) attempt to preserve their romance in the well-wrought drama "Like Crazy."

  • Two sisters play "Bloody Mary" before a mirror in their bathroom, one of eight scenes in the trailer for "Paranormal Activity 3" that don't appear in the movie.

    Two sisters play "Bloody Mary" before a mirror in their bathroom, one of eight scenes in the trailer for "Paranormal Activity 3" that don't appear in the movie.

 
 
Posted11/3/2011 6:00 AM

Reel Life mini-review: 'Like Crazy'
Call Drake Doremus' finely sketched "Like Crazy" this generation's "Splendor in the Grass," the 1961 romance between two small-town high school students ripped apart by social expectations and parents.

In "Like Crazy," the external force is sheer geographic distance.

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Jacob and Anna (Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones) meet in college as L.A. students. He's a local kid with dreams of being a furniture designer. She's a British exchange student on a visa.

Employing an ultra-lean narrative, Doremus establishes their budding romance with tiny details: flirtive glances, a note left on a windshield, bonding over Paul Simon music.

Anna overstays her visa, and the government bans her from entering the U.S., a turn that puts tremendous pressure on their romance.

In "Like Crazy," one of the most honest and freshest romantic films I've witnessed in years, Yelchin and Jones are fluid and transparent, and their seamless performances explode with earnest affections.

Jennifer Lawrence also turns in a nuanced, vulnerable character as the woman Jacob turns to when the loneliness becomes too much.

"Like Crazy" opens at the Century Centre in Chicago. Rated PG-13 for language and sexual situations. 90 minutes. ★ ★ ★

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Reel Life mini-review: 'Silenced'
This is one of the most gut-wrenching experiences I've ever had watching a movie.

The South Korean drama "Silenced" is based on the true story of a school for the deaf run by a principal and teachers who raped and beat their grade-school students, especially orphans with no parents to protect them or sue the abusers.

A new instructor named Kang In-Ho (Gong Yoo) immediately suspects something when he witnesses a teacher putting a student's head inside an operating washing machine.

"Silenced" is a brutal movie that never exploits its subject, but doesn't sugarcoat the abuse meted out by trusted authorities protected by bribed cops and tacitly supported by the South Korean culture.

Director Dong Hyeuk Hwang never winces in telling this alarming story, one that seesaws between hope and despair so many times that it left me in fits of sadness and anger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hwang wisely focuses on the children, not only the ones emotionally destroyed, but the resilient ones brave enough to confront their assailants and demand justice.

You don't really appreciate the fairness and compassion of the American system until you witness corrupt institutions of an entire society closing ranks to crush its children -- and the truth.

"Silenced" opens at the AMC Showplace in Niles. In Korean with subtitles. Not rated; for mature audiences. 125 minutes. ★ ★ ★ ★

Reel Life mini-review: 'The Double'
"The Double" is a tired and tricky plot in search of characters who resemble actual human beings.

When someone assassinates a U.S. senator, retired CIA operative Paul Shepherdson (Richard Gere) gets reactivated to see if this could be the work of a dreaded Soviet killer code-named Cassius.

Skeptical Paul gets teamed with young FBI agent Ben Geary (Topher Grace), an enthusiastic Harvard grad convinced Cassius is back.

Directed by Michael Brandt without a whit of empathy or understanding of these characters, "The Double" is a developmentally challenged mentor-protege buddy movie set against a resurrected Cold War backdrop.

It might have worked, if the plot made sense, the "surprises" weren't telegraphed, and Gere and Grace could fake a little chemistry that made us believe they really relate to each other.

"The Double" opens at local theaters. Rated PG-13 for language and sexual situations. 90 minutes. ★

'Paranormal' fraud?
If you've seen Paramount Pictures' "Paranormal Activity 3" and seen its theatrical trailer, you'll notice eight things in the trailer that don't appear in the actual movie:

1. The two daughters play a game with an entity that responds to their knocking on a wall.

2. One daughter jumps down a bedroom staircase, and is apparently caught by something.

3. An invisible force yanks a sitting investigator out of the room.

4. A daughter proves to Mom that her invisible friend Toby exists by throwing water on him, revealing his silhouette.

5. A daughter screams in the car during an apparent attempt to escape from the garage.

6. A house goes up in flames.

7. Mom screams "We're getting out of the house!" as an invisible force yanks her out of the room.

8. The two daughters play a game of "Bloody Mary" in front of a bathroom mirror, but leave before they notice the sinister figure of a woman in the reflection.

Normally when we buy tickets to a movie based on what's been in trailers and commercials, we expect to see what's been advertised, within reason of course. (Early trailers are often constructed before a film is completed.)

When a product advertises its ingredients, and we buy that product expecting those ingredients -- but don't get those ingredients at all -- that's an old bait-and-switch swindle. And Hollywood studios have been getting away with it for way too long.

Foreign film matters
Join me and James Bond novelist Raymond Benson as Dann & Raymond's Movie Club presents "Foreign Correspondence: Great Movies From the Rest of the World," 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Arlington Memorial Library, 500 N. Dunton Ave., Arlington Heights. Clips from such classics as "Cinema Paradiso," "M," "Breathless," "Jules and Jim" "The Seven Samurai" plus 11 others. Free admission! Go to ahml.info or call (847) 392-0100.

Stuff you should know
• The 50th anniversary of the classic "West Side Story" will be celebrated with extra features at select Northwest suburban theaters 7 p.m. Wednesday. The movie, a musical updating of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," won 10 Oscars, including best picture. Go to fathomevents.com for details.

• The 23rd annual Polish Film Festival in North America runs through Nov. 20 at seven Chicago-area theaters, including the Pickwick in Park Ridge and Muvico in Rosemont. Go to pffamerica.com for details.

• Halloween may be over, but you can still dress up as your favorite character from "Breakfast at Tiffany's," the 1961 Blake Edwards classic celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special 1 p.m. showing Sunday at the Arcada Theater, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles. The event will benefit the 32-member St. Charles Singers. Call (630) 513-5272 for tickets.

• Reeling 30, the Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival, continues through Nov. 12 at six theaters. Go to reelingfilmfestival.org or call (773) 293-1447.

• Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!