Monday, March 25, 2013

Pay 'Admission,' But Not to 'Olympus'

So, the good news is that "Admission," the new Paul Weitz film starring Tina Fey, is not as bad as you may have heard. In fact, I thought it was pretty charming, even if slight in comparison to Fey's other comedic works - and, no, I'm not referring to "Baby Mama."

The not so great news is that Antoine Fuqua's "Olympus Has Fallen" is just as obnoxious and, I'd argue, offensive as you might have heard.

On the other hand, it's not completely terrible. Just pretty mediocre. And pretty over the top.

Here are my Patch reviews for the week.

This coming weekend could be a doozy. First, there's the acclaimed "The Place Beyond the Pines," a crime drama with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper. Then, there's the much buzzed about "Room 237," which dissects the various conspiracy theories revolving around Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining."

Then, I'll probably catch up with either "The Host" or "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." Most likely, the former.

Monday, March 18, 2013

'Spring Breakers' and 'Reality' Disappoint, but 'The Call' is a Genuine Surprise

So, that headline sort of sums it up. Brad Anderson's "The Call," a creepy and well crafted B thriller, is the surprise winner of this week's cinematic lottery.

The picture proves that Halle Berry can still carry a movie and it's a pretty solid little genre film, despite that it often requires some pretty significant leaps of faith on behalf of the viewer.

The week's semi-well received indies - Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" and Matteo Garrone's "Reality" - were both letdowns, if not exactly failures.

Korine's film had energy to spare and a completely bonkers performance by James Franco. But the film felt too unfocused and, often, repetitive. It's worth a look for hardcore moviegoers and those who like their cinema a little on the, shall we say, bizarre side. But it didn't exactly work for me.

And Garrone's "Reality" starts out pretty well, easing into its "The King of Comedy" scenario until, towards its end, it just sort of, well, ends. It's not a bad film, but it's a far cry from Garrone's 2008 gangster movie "Gomorrah."

Here are my Patch reviews.

This coming weekend, I'm going to see "Admission" and "Olympus Has Fallen."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Almost, But Not Quite: 'Oz' and 'Dead Man Down'

This week's new films - Sam Raimi's "Oz, the Great and Powerful" and "Dead Man Down" - were both admirable in their own right, but I can't wholeheartedly recommend either picture.

Raimi's "Oz" movie certainly had large shoes to fill. So, you have to give him credit for getting some things right, especially a clever ending during which nothing short of the magic of filmmaking itself is used as a weapon against some very wicked witches. I just wish the film were more, let's say, Raimi-esque.

"Dead Man Down," on the other hand, is a moody thriller that builds and builds, keeping us guessing in an intriguing sort-of way before culminating in a completely over-the-top action sequence. All in all, it's not a bad film. But it doesn't quite do the trick. The movie is the first English-language picture from Niels Arden Oplev ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") and I'd compare his American debut to Chan-wook Park's first, the recent "Stoker," in that neither quite blew me away, but each had merits.

Here are my Patch reviews.

I'm very sorry to say that I did not catch Cristian Mungiu's "Beyond the Hills," but plan to do so during the week this week. Therefore, I'll include it in my roundup of next week's films, which include "Spring Breakers," "Reality," "The Call" and "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone."

Monday, March 4, 2013

'Stoker' and 'Leviathan' Disappoint, '21 and Over' is Reliably Bad

It wasn't the great kickoff to March that I was expecting. This is, after all, the month in which a number of highly acclaimed films get rolled out, including 'The Place Beyond the Pines,' 'Beyond the Hills,' 'Reality,' 'Spring Breakers' and 'Room 237.'

Two films this week have been receiving pretty solid reviews. However, I found myself a bit let down by both Chan-wook Park's stylish and well-acted, but ultimately hollow, "Stoker" as well as the commercial fishing documentary "Leviathan." Both movies have elements that stand out, but neither completely worked for me.

And then, there's "21 and Over," which is about as dreadful as you'd expect.

Here are my reviews for Patch.

This coming weekend, I'll catch up with "Oz: The Great and Powerful" and "Dead Man Down." I'll probably not catch up with "Beyond the Hills" until early next week, so that will be included in next week's reviews. I also hope to catch Michel Gondry's "The We and the I" at some point soon.