Momma's Man *** ( 3 STARS)
At once poignant and ruefully amusing, director Azazel Jacobs' third feature, Momma's Man, finds Mikey (Matt Boren) visiting his parents (Flo and Ken Jacobs) while on a business trip to New York City, only to discover that he can't leave.
It's a key strength of this subtle, beguiling film that Mikey hasn't been living a dysfunctional life in California, where he has a lovely wife (Dana Varon) and baby daughter, a pleasant apartment and a decent job.
The film is a comment on the stresses of fast-changing modern life, with its sense of loss and dislocation that make the security of Mikey's parents' bohemian artists' loft, his beautiful, nurturing mother's tender attentions and his childhood mementos so irresistible a security blanket for Mikey; he keeps postponing his return to California and soon discovers that he can't even step outside his parents' apartment.
Jacobs wrote the role of Mikey especially for Boren, who, as a paunchy, unhandsome guy in his 30s, fearlessly allows Mikey to seem at times an outsized baby. But Boren shows us that Mikey is much more than that, and the filmmaker's actual parents, Flo Jacobs, a painter, and Ken Jacobs, an avant-garde filmmaker, emerge as an attractive couple of much sensitivity and intelligence, handling their son's sudden midlife crisis with concern and restraint.
Mastery of tone is everything here. Azazel's control, combined with his wit, perception, discretion and easy command of the visual, makes Momma's Man a gem.
Unrated . Time 94 minutes.
Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
Flow *** ( 3 STARS)
As if we didn't have enough to worry about, the quietly apocalyptic Flow makes a good case that what's going on with our planet's water supply should make you very, very afraid. Any film that begins with a bleak W.H. Auden quote ("Thousands have lived without love, not one without water") is not going to be a ray of sunshine in anyone's life.
Made over a five-year period by director Irena Salina, who traveled the world and talked to an impressive list of experts, Flow (which also stands for "For Love of Water") is an involving look at a number of interrelated water issues. For one thing, it seems that the planet is simply running out of water, which, given our dependence on it, is not a good thing. "We have wars going on over oil," one of the film's authorities says. "Water can be oil all over again."
Also a problem is that we are terminally polluting what water we have. Flow opens with a shot of India's Ganges, a poster image for polluted water. It tells us that water-borne diseases kill more people annually than either AIDS or wars.
One of Flow's most intriguing segments concerns bottled water, a liquid that turns out to be less regulated and possibly less safe than what comes through the tap. In addition, we're told, society could provide pure water for everyone on the planet for what we pay for the bottled kind. It's something to think about, as is this entire film.
Unrated. Time 84 minutes.
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Quarantine, a horror film about a creepy virus that strikes a Los Angeles apartment building, was not screened for critics.