Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jamie Linden's 10 YEARS brings depth, fun and star quality to the high school reunion

If you missed it, as did most of us, during its very brief theatrical run last Septem-ber, here's your chance to see the movie that proves Channing Tatum can damn well "act" -- and act damn well. Magic Mike? 21 Jump Street? They're paltry by com-parison.

10 YEARS, on which Tatum also worked as one of the producers, is a ten-year high-school reunion movie, of which there have been a few over the past decades. This is perhaps the best of 'em all.

The reason? It has to do with the fact that writer/director Jamie Linden, shown at right, never pushes a thing. He just lets it all unfold with the naturalness, grace and occasional embarrassment of real life. This is no documentary -- the uber-starry cast of some of the best young performers Hollywood has to offer attests to that -- but Linden uses a documentary technique, particularly at the film's beginning, in which we meet, quickly and pointedly, all or most of the people involved.

This section moves very fast, with dialog that overlaps and situations that suggest but only become solid as the movie progresses. This beginning is bracing indeed, for we know we're in good hands because of the sense of reality conveyed by the filmmaker and his performers, who do such a bang-up job.

This is an ensemble piece; Mr. Tatum (above, with his significant other, and further above with Rosario Dawson) is but one of the characters we get to know and, for the most part, like. In fact, there are around 20 -- count 'em! -- individuals here, each of whom registers strongly enough to make us care. This, I maintain, is damned difficult to manage. But Mr Linden has done it, together with his wonderful cast that includes the likes of Lynn Collins, Justin Long (below, right) and Max Minghella (below, left); Ms Dawson, Ron Livingston and Jenna Dewan-Tatum; Ari Graynor and Chris Pratt; Oscar Isaac and Kate Mara (two photos below); Brian Geraghty and Aubrey Plaza; Scott Porter and Eiko Nijo; Anthony Mackie, Aaron Yoo and Kelly Noonan. (Click here to see the entire cast and crew.)

Every one of these actors connects with his/her role and makes us care to some degree. And the writer/director gives each of them just enough material and back-story to make sense but not create a busload of trauma/tsuris to drag things down. (He also doesn't try to tie things up too neatly.) These kids are just about at the point they ought to be in their little lives. One of them is now famous, which makes for some interesting observations; the rest are still striving.

If there is a sense here of opportunities missed and roads not taken, there is also enough maturity -- in the filmmaker and in his characters -- so that they are beginning to understand the meaning of responsibility. The makes the movie all that much richer and, for the most part, cliché free. (When there are clichés, Linden and his cast spin them with enough originality that they seem fresh again.) Although he has written the screenplay for We Are Marshall and adapted Nicholas Sparks' novel into Dear John, this is the first film that Linden has directed -- which bodes well for a continuing and successful career.

10 Years, from Anchor Bay Entertainment and running 101 minutes, is a movie very much worth seeing. It makes its DVD and Blu-ray debut today, Tuesday, December 18, for sale and/or rental.

No comments: