With dysfunctional family tale-meets-courtroom drama The Judge (out Fri/10), director David Dobkin is no longer simply "the guy who directed The Wedding Crashers (2005)" — he's also the guy who got Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall to go toe-to-toe. Downey plays hotshot Chicago lawyer Hank, who verrrry reluctantly returns to his rural hometown after the death of his mother; he's met with hostile hospitality from his aging, long-estranged father, the town judge (Duvall), who verrrry reluctantly allows his son to represent him when he's accused of murder.
The Judge's biggest flaw (besides its nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time and some sentimental tendencies) is that it tries to be too many genres at once. But those marvelously acted Downey vs. Duvall tête-à-têtes — and one memorably hilarious jury-selection scene — can't be ignored. Prior to its theatrical release, The Judge screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival, and I got a chance to speak with Dobkin about his latest film.
MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL The Mill Valley Film Festival opens with selections by Oscar nominees (Men, Women & Children director Jason Reitman), winners (The Homesman director Tommy Lee Jones), and multiple winners (Hilary Swank stars in The Homesman). But while MVFF prides itself on star power, it's also a champion of unsung artists, exemplified by a quartet of documentaries in this year's lineup.Read more »
FILM The music biopic is a tricky beast. Very few directors are able to compellingly compress true-life tales into films that actually have some interest beyond "Hey, that famous/infamous thing you already knew about happened like this!" — though superior performances (recent Oscar-winning examples: 2004's Ray, 2005's Walk the Line) can help buoy the results. Far rarer are more artistically daring films that unfold more like docu-dramas than glossovers, like Control (2007) and Sid and Nancy (1986).Read more »
FALL ARTS Autumn is primo movie season, not just in awards-hungry Hollywood. Here in the Bay Area we've got unique rep programming and festivals galore to keep our eyeballs fully engaged — and just enough room for some prestige movie-star pictures for dessert.