Tag Archives: Glenn Howerton

The Devil You Know

The Thief Collector

by Rachel Willis

There’s an old adage that you can never really know someone. In director Allison Otto’s documentary, The Thief Collector, she puts this at the forefront with a modest couple, Jerry and Rita Alter, from middle-of-nowhere New Mexico, who happened to be art thieves.

Or at least, that’s how it seems.

After an estate sale, three men, Rick, Dave, and Buck discover an unattractive painting placed behind a bedroom door. It isn’t until a local artist recognizes the painting that they look into it further. One Google search later, the men discover the painting in their possession is Willem de Kooning’s Woman-Ochre, stolen from the University of Arizona Museum of Art in 1985.

So, how did Jerry and Rita, two teachers, come to have this painting in their possession?

The Thief Collector wants to answer this question.

There is a lot of reliance on Jerry’s short stories to paint a picture of two people who were “thrill seekers” (also conveniently one of Jerry’s story titles). There is documented evidence that the couple lived a fascinating and exhilarating life – one full of travel and adventure in parts of the world many will never see.

However, any writer of fiction would be appalled to think after their death, their stories would be taken as fact – and as evidence of crimes. While this could be the case for Jerry, it’s all speculation.

There is more compelling evidence to implicate the Alters in the crime, but there is a lot of filler in the documentary. Readings from Jerry’s short stories serve as narration for scripted scenes – with Glenn Howerton as “Jerry” and Sarah Minnich as “Rita”. While these scenes are an over-the-top kind of enjoyable, they’re not evidence of wrongdoing, no matter how much the filmmakers might wish them to be.

By focusing on Jerry’s stories, there is a lot of reaching rather than revelation.

Where the documentary succeeds is in its blend of interviews, in footage of the Alters’ many trips, and the vast collection of art in their home. The reenactments don’t quite fit, but they’re amusing.

Of course, the film would have been better served if it tightened its focus to what is known about the theft and the Alters. The interviews with friends and family give a good back and forth on the film’s theme – that the people you’ve known many years, maybe even your whole life, may have a dark side. It’s definitely something to ponder.

CrackBerry to WhackBerry


by George Wolf

So, a voice on the line says, “You have a collect call from ‘What the f%& is happening’!”

That’s not really the caller’s name.

He’s actually Jim Balsillie (a terrific Glenn Howerton), co-CEO of BlackBerry Limited, and he’s having yet another temper tantrum. The pairing of Balsillie’s bare-knuckled business sense with the tech genius of other CEO Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel, perfectly awkward) made the company an early leader in the cell phone game, but things have started to unravel. Fast.

It’s a wild and often unhinged rise and fall, told with gleeful abandon by BlackBerry director and and co-writer Matt Johnson, who also co-stars as Doug Fregin, Lazaridis’s original business partner.

While operating a Canadian tech supply company called Research in Motion in 1996, Lazaridis and Fregin hatched the idea of utilizing North America’s unused bandwidth for a cellphone with built-in capability for email and messaging.

Balsillie, a Harvard-educated d-bag with self promotion tunnel vision, knew what the geeks had, and gave them his business street smarts in exchange for a big piece of the pie.

Johnson (Operation Avalanche) draws the battle lines early, framing the unfocused nerds with jittery, The Office-style camerawork amid chaotic workplaces while the calculating, take-no-prisoners suits live within crisp lines, confident movement and unforgiving architecture.

The colliding of worlds is engaging enough, but the delightfully sharp humor and first-rate ensemble (also including Michael Ironside) turn these based on true events into a rollicking, can’t-look-away slice of history.

There’s so much here that resonates – friendship, ambition, cutthroat capitalism and just feeling like an outcast. And at the root is the push and pull of commerce (Balsillie: “Are you familiar with the saying, ‘perfect is the enemy of good?”) vs. science (Lazaridis: “Well, ‘good enough’ is the enemy of humanity.”)

BlackBerry is a fast, funny and often thrilling ride, one that ends up worthy of both time spent and time capsule.

Don’t Say Super


by Hope Madden

In a seedy underworld ripe for the comic book taking, a teen crime journalist named Hamster just wants a shot to tell the real stories of these streets. He stumbles across a homeless man who claims to be a hero from another dimension. The thing is, Hamster believes him.

Hokey, right? It is, but co-writer/director Adam Egypt Mortimer hits an interesting tone with Archenemy. He creates the space needed to develop some ideas before logic and cynicism close them down.

Mortimer combines animation with live action, sometimes bleeding whispery voiceover into the mix to heighten the sense that nothing is as it seems. Is Max Fist (that is a name!) really from a parallel dimension, or is he an alcoholic schizophrenic homeless guy living under the bridge?

Mortimer mainly works from young Hamster’s point of view, occasionally veering into Max’s. By limiting the logic of the tale to the perspective of either a naïve optimist or the likely victim of mental illness and addiction, the filmmaker ensures that you’re never truly able to differentiate reality from unreality.

It’s a tough tone to maintain, but Mortimer manages, thanks in large part to the commitment of his lead. As Max Fist (seriously, that name!), Joe Manganiello carries Archenemy on his shoulders. The performance is simultaneously lucid and muddled, with a physical edge that makes the character feel like a threat even at his most vulnerable.

Around him, characters are sometimes cartoonish (Glenn Howerton as The Manager or Paul Scheer as Kreig), but Manganiello keeps the film from dipping into camp with a turn that’s gritty and believable.

Skylan Brooks does a fine job of elevating the least realistic role—a character that benefits from endless contrivances. The writing around Hamster is easily the weakest part of the film, but Brooks does what he can to keep you engaged.

As Hamster’s sister Indigo, Zolee Griggs walks an interesting line as well, the good guy and bad guy in the same breath. It’s an understated performance that impresses. And Amy Seimetz—always a welcome sight—delivers a resigned villainy that perfectly suits the picture.

Archenemy has plenty of faults, but more than enough inspiration and grit to make you want to overlook them.