Opening in Chicago, 01/13


Carnage (trailer)
Director: Roman Polanski (The Ninth Gate, The Pianist, Oliver Twist, The Ghost Writer)
Personal Interest Factor: 7
I don’t think I would have guessed in a million years that this was a Polanski movie from the trailer if his name wasn’t on it, although setting a movie mostly in a confined space like an apartment is a pretty typical Polanski tactic. Should be fun as an actor’s showcase even if the consensus seems to be that it doesn’t add up to much. In other Polanski news, Paramount finally announced one of the very best American films ever made, Chinatown, for Blu-ray for April.
Metacritic: 60

Contraband (trailer)
Director: Baltasar Kormákur (101 Reykjavík, The Sea, Mýrin, Inhale)
Personal Interest Factor: 5
Somewhat generic-looking smuggling movie with Mark Wahlberg, personality-free Kate Beckinsale, and Giovanni Ribisi doing his best to become a supporting-actor equivalent to Nicolas Cage. Kormákur surely must be the only Icelandic director to make an American studio film in recent times.
Metacritic: 53

The Iron Lady (trailer)
Director: Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!)
Personal Interest Factor: 5
I don’t know what to make of this except that the trailer is damn awful, full of very superficial feminist sloganeering (“I have done battle every day!”) on behalf of a woman who detested feminism and what looks like the most obnoxious Meryl Streep performance it is possible to imagine (complete with a stupid-looking dental prosthetic).
Metacritic: 54

Also this week:
Beauty and the Beast – 3D reissue
Joyful Noise (trailer) – Queen Latifah/Dolly Parton gospel choir movie
Man on a Mission (trailer) – doc about a wealthy space tourist
Newlyweds (trailer) – new Edward Burns movie


10 responses »

  1. ‘The Iron Lady’ looks utterly pointless other than an excuse for Streep to have an Oscar nod. No surprise really as if you’re looking for a considered political biography you don’t have the director of ‘Mamma Mia’ helm it.

    Funny thing about Streep’s career – she’s hardly ever put in a bad performance but not that many very good/great films. How often has it been said that Streep’s performance is the best thing about an otherwise mediocre film?

  2. A FIVE for Contraband?!

    A five in that context means “I have no real desire to see it but could see myself killing an afternoon watching it if I had nothing better to do.”

    As opposed to The Iron Lady, for which a five means “I know I’ll see it but I’m certainly not happy about it.”

    These numbers are highly arbitrary, is what I mean.

  3. Well, if it’s arbitrary, why are you being so slavish to the three question form is my question…

  4. Saw ‘Carnage’ tonight and found it very disappointing.

    For a film like this to work it either has to be on a realistic level or on a surreal/farcical level. It starts off on the former but isn’t well-enough written to survive on that basis. Towards the end it slips somewhat into the latter but doesn’t really work there either.

    It has the odd good moment here and there but never takes off and isn’t insightful in the slightest. The dynamics between the four characters never really compel – indeed, it’s hard to believe that Foster and Reilly could be a couple.

    As for the acting, Foster is awful – starts off on too melodramatic a note and goes into full-blown hysteria by the latter stages. Surprisingly, Waltz probably comes off the best out of the quartet.

    On the plus side at least it was short (under 80 mins)

    Rating: C

  5. Carnage was remarkably bad. A piffle, a trifle, an insignificant roadbump on a great director’s resume.
    “My child is bad.”
    “Your child is worse”
    Over and over and over and over.
    “Please get off your phone.”
    Over and over and over and over.
    Stunningly insignificant movie.

  6. I actually thought Foster was pretty great. It’s a tricky character – she’s basically the one who is the most hostile and judgmental, but also the one whose self-image depends most on putting up a civil facade – and I think she’s by far the least sympathetic of the four. But although I actually liked all four performances, I thought hers was the most daring, and the most committed to the “surreal/farcical” aspect of the material.

    Otherwise, I pretty much understand Marco’s complaints, even though I liked it more than him.

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