Cineast Movie Previews: ‘20,000 Days on Earth,’ ‘This Is Where I Leave You,’ ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’

"This Is Where I Leave You" with Tina Fey and Jason Bateman.
"This Is Where I Leave You" with Tina Fey and Jason Bateman.

This week, Cineast offers previews of the new movies 20,000 Days on Earth, This Is Where I Leave You and Hector and the Search for Happiness.

20,000 Days on Earth
The Australian rock musician and performer Nick Cave generates a lot of enthusiasm among a certain audience—the type of fans who don’t really care too much what music sounds like or whether a song is satisfying in its tune or structure, but who are very concerned that the person who MADE the music or the song is sufficiently cool. And Nick Cave is very cool. He writes inscrutable poetry, he appears in Wim Wenders films, he takes the stage like an Australian Iggy Pop, he dyes his presumably greying hair jet black and wears it like he’s trying to win a “Nasty Neil Diamond” competition. 20,000 Days on Earth is an indulgent documentary that features extended, candid interviews with Cave and that shows him going about his daily life and work. Hipsters will soon lose their membership cards if they can’t prove that they’ve seen this film.

This Is Where I Leave You
Jason Bateman has been getting a lot of face time on the big screen these days, which is good because he’s a talented comedic actor. In This Is Where I Leave You, Bateman joins an all-star cast featuring Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver and Rose Byrne for a comedic take on family dysfunction. Bateman plays Judd Altman, who is down in the dumps over the sudden dissolution of his “perfect” marriage (his wife was having a long-term affair with his boss, it turned out) when his father dies. He and his siblings Wendy (Fey), Paul (Corey Stoll) and Phillip (Driver) return home for the funeral and they are shocked to find themselves also sitting Shiva at the insistence of their mother Hillary (Fonda). “You’re all grounded,” is how the matriarch puts it, although she herself displays an unseemly urgency for finding a new partner—she’s recently even had a “little work” done, to her children’s horror. When they have nothing to do but sit together, a lot of uncomfortable, and quite funny, secrets and truths are laid out in the open between these people who, like many far-flung families, paradoxically know one another TOO well while at the same time knowing one another barely at all.

Hector and the Search for Happiness
After making a name for himself in quirky, somewhat offbeat comedies (Shawn of the Dead comes to mind) Simon Pegg stars in Hector and the Search for Happiness, and makes a sharp turn toward the mainstream. Pegg plays Hector, a psychiatrist who realizes that his patients aren’t getting any happier, and who takes it upon himself to undertake a global search for happiness—he calls it “research.” Pegg brings his trademark antic energy to the role, but there’s no disguising that we’re in feel-good territory here.

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