The title of writer-director Joseph Gordon-Levitt's debut film "Don Jon" is unfortunate, for it's a too obvious play on the fictional lothario Don Juan. However, this story is about much more than someone who engages in serial conquests. A title that would have better captured the complexity of the film — which at first blush seems crass, vulgar and raunchy in language and behavior — is "Chasing the Dime."
The dime — in the vernacular of New Jersey hotshot, Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and his crew — is that fantasy woman who is a "10." And as they huddle together in a pulsating club each night, the crush of dancing bodies all around, he and his buds are ever on the lookout for that singular dime. Their criteria are purely physical: breasts, rear chassis, cascading hair, and the synergism created by a fine specimen of a woman.
What Jon cares about is the quest and the conquest, nothing more. Well, actually, he does care about more, and in voiceover he often reminds the audience what he cares about: "my body (he's a gym rat), my pad, my ride, my boys, my family, my porn."
And ultimately what he cares most about is not even the dime. He is addicted to watching porn, which he claims is the only place he can "lose himself."
One night, at a club, he spots his fantasy, the quintessential dime, Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), stunning in a come-hither red dress. But even Barbara, who is physically spectacular, cannot cause him to lose himself, and he still turns to porn.
As it turns out, she is addicted to chick flick romance films, and the men who are in them are her dime. And it's from those stories that she constructs her life's expectations regarding relationships and male behavior. Her prince will come along.
Socrates wrote, "The unexamined life is not worth living." And that is the Achilles heel of both Jon and Barbara. They have objectified each other to the point that they find it all but impossible to truly connect. They can hook up (which is apparently as common as stopping at a diner for a bite to eat), but find connecting as persons all but impossible — something our culture seems to have lost sight of in the narcissistic, commercial maze of media message physicality: "my bod, my girls, my ride, my porn"¦"
And it isn't until Jon meets an older woman, Esther (Julianne Moore), in a college night class, that he begins to understand that the dime is something entirely different than what he assumed. It is this new insight that offers not only the possibility of finding something authentic within (not the one-dimensional person he has constructed from images absorbed from the hard-core screen), but perhaps redemption. This is a gift to Jon that slips quietly and unexpectedly into Act III and is, in truth, the essence of "Don Jon."
"Rush" is not a movie to be seen on a small, living-room screen (no matter how ample the home-entertainment center might be). This film, directed by Ron Howard, is made for the big screen with the visceral, vibrating sound of Formula 1 engines spitting speed and fire as they race around a track and along pastoral and urban roads reaching speeds of 170 mph.
These cars are frail frames bracketed by enormous tires, their claustrophobic cockpits positioned on top of gas tanks filled with high-octane, instantly combustible fuel. They are, as one driver calls them, small coffins.
But "Rush" is not just about these elegant but dangerous machines; it is a contrasting character study of two drivers who are competing for the Formula 1 World Championship.
The year is 1976. The two men — playboy Brit, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), the definition of insouciance, and Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), a geeky, tightly wound gearhead who was world champion the previous year. The competition takes them on the international circuit, pursuing a title that requires putting the pedal to the metal in a high risk/high gain, flat-out pursuit of the glory and the rush of being the fastest F1 driver in the world.
What makes Howard's film more than just a thrill from a distance is that he takes the audience inside the cockpits and even the helmets of the drivers. Though very different men, life for both is about speed and flirting with their mortality. The rest is just preparation.
— Chris Honoré