Tag Archives: Lily Collins



by Cat McAlpine

Lauren learns of her father’s untimely death from an aggressive reporter shoving a microphone in her face. There isn’t a lot of room for privacy when you’re a part of the Monroe family. Lauren is Manhattan’s District Attorney. Her brother, William, is running for congressional reelection. The Monroes are in the news and in the spotlight.

Unfortunately, the harsher the light, the darker the shadows. When her father’s will saddles her with a cruel inheritance and a bunker full of secrets, Lauren has to explore what she’s willing to do for the family name.

Simon Pegg has above and beyond the best performance here as the villainous Morgan Warner. It’s not just his excellent dialect work (as always) that helps him disappear into the role, but his commitment creating a full, if not deranged, character. The film’s weak script and loose plot points fail to support his choices, and often leave him out to dry, making Pegg cartoonish when he’s meant to be menacing.

Lily Collins falters as Lauren because she has so little to build on. The family dynamic itself is vague and cold. Brief flashbacks reveal a tumultuous relationship with her father, but little else is done to explore Lauren’s relationships. Lauren is grappling with how she chooses to remember her father, but he’s given no redeeming characteristics and frankly, neither is she.

The rest of the cast suffers a similar fate, with characters barely introduced, underdeveloped, and quickly discarded, resulting in stiff deliveries and people you simply don’t care about. That makes it hard to buy in to a story that hinges on putting it all on the line for family.

All said, this film lacks the commitment it needs to be memorable.  In an effort, maybe, to keep mainstream, Inheritance only skims the horror/thriller genres instead of really getting its hands bloody. Penned by Matthew Kennedy (his first) Inheritance works too hard at the top, and gets the pacing all wrong. While it hits a much better tempo later on, director Vaughn Stein (Terminal) piles on with some impatient cuts that make the story feel rushed.

Too little too late comes a breakneck plot twist that attempts to definitively draw a line between the good guys and the bad guys. In the dark, there are only shades of gray, but Inheritance isn’t elegant enough to navigate them. The film’s tiptoeing around the darkest inclinations of the family patriarch rob the story of its real moral dilemma and its real fun.

There is definitely fun to be had in the final 20 minutes of the film. You just have to make it that far. 

Forming the Fellowship


by George Wolf

Better confess right now: the whole Hobbit, Lord of the Rings thing just isn’t my bag. God bless you if you love the books, films and all, but the whole story just leaves me cold.

That’s not to say I can’t respect and admire the incredible imagination of author J.R.R. Tolkien, or the biopic about him that’s full of so much respect and admiration.

But what’s strangely missing in Tolkien is the wonder, the spark of endless creativity so abundant in the author’s expansive literary landscapes.

Writers Stephen Beresford and David Gleeson anchor Tolkien’s pre-Hobbit life in the trenches of WW1. As Officer Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) searches the battlefield for a boyhood friend, flashbacks fill us in on his upbringing as an orphan adopted into wealth.

With an eye on “changing the world through the power of art,” Tolkien forms a “Dead Poets” – type secret society with his mates at Oxford, where he impresses esteemed language professor Joseph Wright (Derek Jacobi in a wonderful cameo) as well as the lovely Edith Bratt (Lily Collins).

Both Hoult and Collins are committed and pleasing, but the courtship becomes just another informative but less-than-engrossing leg the film stands on.

Though director Dome Karukoski keeps things well-assembled and plenty reverent toward his subject, this film never quite conveys the spirit of inspiration it seeks to celebrate. With a frustrating lean toward safety over enlightenment, Tolkien turns an ambitious quest into a rather pedestrian journey.

Bizarre Billionaire Love Triangle

Rules Don’t Apply

by Matt Weiner

Warren Beatty is back behind the camera for his fifth feature film in almost as many decades. Rules Don’t Apply, also co-written and co-produced by Beatty, follows the lives of Hollywood newcomers Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich) and Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins), each depending on the graces of billionaire Howard Hughes (Beatty) for their big breaks—Marla as an aspiring actress, Frank as a budding businessman.

When Frank gets assigned as Marla’s designated driver for the film studio, the two quickly bond over their shared determination to make it in a world where they both feel like outsiders stifled by tradition.

Hughes looms large over Frank and Marla’s courtship, although he doesn’t make an entrance until midway through the movie. Instead, his admired (and feared) presence hangs over everything with a Godot-like intensity that leaves Frank, Marla and everyone else in Hughes’s orbit to make what lives they can for themselves while longing for greater meaning.

The eventual appearance of Hughes complicates Frank and Marla’s awkward romance. And it certainly complicates our impression of the mogul. If the Hughes in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator is one of tragedy, Beatty’s take leans closer to farce.

Beatty is still fascinating onscreen, and he grounds the tics and insecurities of the mentally deteriorating Hughes in warmth rather than gimmickry. But he never fully commits to whether Hughes—and by extension, his effect on the characters around him—is a kooky uncle or something more sinister.

Frank and Marla are the would-be heroes of a lush Old Hollywood comedy, but Hughes is always there to stalk their happily ever after. Contemporary filmmakers have mined the underbelly of the 1950s and ‘60s for Gothic horror that lies beneath, but it’s disconcerting to see stray flashes of this breaking into an otherwise straightforward homage to the period. (Cue off-camera singing of the on-the-nose title song, “The Rules Don’t Apply.”)

Like the elusive Hughes, Rules Don’t Apply is a maddening film to pin down. It’s not a biopic, but there’s plenty of historical nostalgia for a bygone Hollywood that Beatty himself helped revolutionize in the late 1960s. And while there’s plenty to loathe about the old system—as Hughes flunky Levar Mathis (Matthew Broderick) is there to remind us—it all feels more like an elegy than a satire.

Beatty includes the Spruce Goose as part of an impressionistic, ahistorical timeline, seemingly as a dare to invite the comparison. All the moving pieces of Rules Don’t Apply manage to achieve liftoff, if barely. The film should have collapsed under the weight of its own eccentricity… and yet. There’s also a sweetness there, a lightness that propels the romantic leads toward a satisfying ending that would make Old Hollywood heavyweights like Sturges or Lubitsch proud.