Monday, March 2, 2009


Greg Kinnear is an unsurprising stand-out in Flash of Genius (***), a well done but dry biopic about the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper only to have his creation stolen by Ford Motors. Kinnear always has a way of charming himself into the audience's good graces, and here, he's alternatively worried and neurotic, while affable and inspirational. But the film is too by-the-numbers to create any vivid, lasting impression, which is possibly due to the fact that the made-for-TV-feel arrives as a result of a rookie director at the helm (Marc Abraham, the prolific producer of Children of Men, The Family Man, and Dawn of the Dead).

Barry Levinon's amusing but inconsequential Hollywood satire What Just Happened (***) is worth watching if you're a fan of industy in-jokes, stars playing themselves (with the above pictured Bruce Willis doing just that in a hilariously self-effacing cameo), and a group of know-it-all filmmakers poking fun at the business they all obviously love so much. It's nowhere near as good as Levinson's other, infinitely superior black comedy Wag the Dog, which can probably be chalked up to the fact that Wag the Dog was written by David Mamet, while What Just Happened has been curiously re-shaped by original novelist Art Linson into a shambling screenplay. Robert DeNiro is great as the stressed out producer juggling his work and his three ex-wives, and if you are counting down the days (like me) until Entourage returns, What Just Happened should satisfyingly fill that gap.

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