Sometimes movies slip through the cracks and, for better or worse, I catch up with them. Here's a handful, from the shirtless to the offensive to the gloriously ecstatic.
Mud, directed by Jeff Nichols
Ordinarily, two boys who happen upon Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon in the same movie have probably gone to heaven — but in Nichols's latest, their starriness is just off. He's missing some of his front teeth, and one of her eyes is black. The situation is trouble. The movie is set in rural Arkansas on and near the Mississippi River, and tells of the hard times that have befallen the titular gentleman, a handsome, drawling drifter played by McConaughey. When we meet him, Mud has been sleeping in a boat that's stuck in a tree. Two teenage friends discover him and find themselves enlisted in abetting his attempt to stay hidden from the family of criminals seeking revenge for the man he killed. The boys also enable his reunion with Juniper, the woman in whose name he did the killing. She's played by Witherspoon as the sort of fallen angel who mopes through a Piggly Wiggly parking lot in a pair of short-shorts and espadrilles.
With the possible exception of Salman Rushdie, no one lived life in hiding as publicly as Henry Hill, who beat the odds on Tuesday by dying, in a hospital, at 69, of a long illness. It was (probably) a lifetime of smoking that did him in, not a hot-lead overdose or an ice-pick to the endocranium, so he won, kind of.
Sixty-nine is old for a Mob turncoat expelled from federal witness protection for all manner of criminal backsliding. But it's fairly young for a celebrity, and that's what Henry Hill was when he died — a celebrity, in that a celebrity is almost always a chimera of fictional character and actual human being.
Tom Hanks might star in an adaptation of Erik Larson’s nonfiction book In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, which has just been optioned by Universal and Hanks’ Playtone production company. The book revolves around William Dodd, the United States’ ambassador to Berlin in 1933, his socialite daughter Martha, and the family’s transition from naiveté to “awareness of the mounting brutality around them.” When reached for comment on the project, Tom Hanks made a bug-eyed face before asking, “holy crap, did I just sign up for another World War II movie?” Grade: A- [HR]