Lay The Favorite

discs intouchables

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Intouchables Philippe (François Cluzet) is a wealthy quadriplegic in need of a full-time caretaker. The list of applicants is long, but it’s a lower class Senegalese immigrant named Driss (Omar Sy) who gets the job because Phillipe wants someone who won’t look at him with pity. The relationship is bumpy at first, but the pair become fast friends through mutual respect and a shared sense of humor. Writer/directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano based their film on a true story, and while the subject of Philippe’s reality could very easily have made for a sappy melodrama, they wisely avoided that route. Instead the movie finds real humor and compassion in the developing friendship and the effect it has on these two lives. The script is surprisingly funny and never maudlin, and both leads show spectacular chemistry and personality. [DVD extras: None]

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Editor’s note: Lay The Favorite hits limited release this Friday, though it doesn’t seem like a solid bet for your movie-going dollar. Find out why with the following Sundance review, originally published on January 23, 2012. There’s one thing that becomes quite clear, quite quickly as Stephen Frears‘s Lay The Favorite begins: not everyone should do voiceover work. Rebecca Hall (who stars as Beth Raymer) sadly falls squarely into that category and her baby voice stays with her throughout the entire film, grating on already-frayed nerves. Lay The Favorite tells Beth’s baby-voiced story as she tries to figure out her purpose in life at a job that will be stimulating and make her good money (don’t we all, Beth). The best place to pursue such a dream? Las Vegas, of course! Beth packs up her life (and dog Otis) and heads west with stars in her eyes. Ready and willing to do anything, Beth quickly makes friends with Holly (Laura Prepon) who turns her on to a job with Dink Heimowtiz (Bruce Willis) who runs a legal (at least in Vegas) gambling company (Dink Inc., of course) that bets on anything and everything, but mainly sporting events. Dink’s world is filled with exactly the type of excitement and stimulation Beth was hoping for and despite her baby talk, daddy issues (no matter what she says) and constant hair chewing, Dink takes a shine to her and agrees to bring her on.

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Any film that gives Rebecca Hall a shot at a starring role seems like it would have to be a good idea, but unfortunately Lay the Favorite didn’t get very good reviews coming out of its debut at Sundance, and our own Allison Loring bemoaned that the film “never seems to quite know what it wants to be.” Still, Lay the Favorite is set to roll out in limited releases all across the world over the next few months, and a trailer has just been released to give us all a taste of what it has to offer, so we might as well give its sales pitch a gander. Director Stephen Frears’s (High Fidelity) latest tells the tale of a chipper ex-stripper (Hall) who falls into a promising new career working for a career gambler (Bruce Willis), but runs into complications when she buts heads with her new boss’ jealous wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Oh, and also there seems to be something about a budding romance with Joshua Jackson, who is playing a bearded nice guy.

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One of the many benefits to staying in a condo filled with fellow critics is getting up each morning (and making sure one another get up) and fighting over who gets to be “friends” with who as people match up their screening schedules for the day. Our motley crew headed out early yesterday morning armed with mini pumpkin muffins (thanks, Kate!) and hopes that we got enough sleep the night before to make it through the day. Thanks to the snow Park City was hit with Saturday, the shuttle system has been less than speedy, making jumping from venue to venue a bit of a headache. There are a few venues that are walking distance from one another, but as I learned today (with fellow colleague Rudie Obias) walking may have been the faster option, but it certainly wasn’t the drier one. (Snow is wet! I’m from California!) Either way, I made it to all my screenings and yes, my socks were soaked for most of the day, but luckily our condo has a washer and dryer in house (like I said – it’s the bloggerati condo of dreams) so it was worth it. Well…kind of.

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published: 04.19.2014
A-
published: 04.19.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C

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