Opening in Chicago, 02/17


Declaration of War (trailer)
Director: Valérie Donzelli
Personal Interest Factor: 5
French film about a couple whose son has a brain tumor. For some reason, the names of the parents are Romeo and Juliette. Donzelli also stars, and the trailer bills it as based on the two lead actors’ true story. I dunno.
Metacritic: 73

In Darkness (trailer)
Director: Agnieszka Holland (Total Eclipse, Washington Square, The Third Miracle, Copying Beethoven)
Personal Interest Factor: 6
The second of this year’s Oscar nominees for Foreign Film to be released here, this one’s about Jews hiding in the sewers of Poland during the Nazi occupation. Maybe I’ll go see it because of the nomination … maybe I won’t.
Metacritic: 71

London River (trailer)
Director: Rachid Bouchareb (Days of Glory, Outside the Law)
Personal Interest Factor: 5
Film about the London bombings of 2005, in which two parents (one Muslim, one Christian, natch) try to find their children. This movie is actually a few years old; Bouchareb actually made it before his already-released Outside the Law.
Metacritic: 67

Rampart (trailer)
Director: Oren Moverman (The Messenger)
Personal Interest Factor: 7
Wondering what the movie really has to offer in the dirty-cop genre, but the trailer isn’t half-bad, and I’ve always thought Harrelson was an interesting actor. The big surprise for me, watching this trailer, is seeing that Ned Beatty is still alive. I don’t know why, I thought he had died a couple years ago. I had forgotten that he did voices for Toy Story 3 and Rango.
Metacritic: 70

The Secret World of Arriety (trailer)
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Personal Interest Factor: 5
New Studio Ghibli film. I know this is borderline reactionary of me, but I can’t stand the idea of watching this with the English voices. Even from the trailer, there are are few instances where I don’t think the voices match the mannerisms of the characters at all. Spoken languages are different across cultures, of course, but body language is too, in often subtle ways. Taking a bunch of new voices in new languages just doesn’t really work for sophisticated animation much better than it does with live action.
Metacritic: 80

This Means War (trailer)
Director: (Charlie’s Angels, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, We Are Marshall, Terminator Salvation)
Personal Interest Factor: 3
The movie seems to be getting crushed critically, and I guess that’s no surprise, because the marketing department can’t even get the basics of poster design right. Here’s the US one-sheet – see how Pine and Hardy are both pointing their guns at Witherspoon? How does this communicate the idea that they’re both dating her? It looks more like they’re trying to kill or capture her. On the other hand, maybe that’s the subtext, and the poster is a subtle critique of the inherent misogyny of the film. Hmmm…
Metacritic: 32

Also this week:
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (trailer) – didn’t see the first one
The Story of Lover’s Rock – doc about British “romantic reggae” music


2 responses »

  1. The career trajectory of Reese Witherspoon has been rather dispiriting. In the late 1990s she looked set for a great career in giving impressive performances in sharp, impressive films like ‘Pleasantville’ and ‘Election’.

    But the success of ‘Legally Blonde’ seemed to be a big turning point for her and the films she’s generally appeared in since then (notwithstanding her Oscar for ‘Walk the Line’) have too often been bland, mainstream films that are only half-a-step up from Katherine Heigl films. It seems a real waste of her talents.

  2. Loved this from Anthony Lane’s review of This Means War:

    “The director is McG, who really should come out of the witness protection program and get himself a proper name. Another possibility, which I find even more credible, is that he is not a person a committee of ADHD sufferers, all of whom have been issued with extra caffeine and a Spotify. account.”

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