Opening in New York, May 10, 2013


The big opening this weekend is The Great Gatsby (55), yet another attempt to capture the beauty of one of America’s greatest novels in film. Our Joe Webb loved it. I saw it today and, suffice it to say, I disagree, and will post my review tomorrow. But then he loved Moulin Rouge! and I hated it. A.O. Scott was kinder than most critics: “The best way to enjoy Baz Luhrmann’s big and noisy new version of “The Great Gatsby” — and despite what you may have heard, it is an eminently enjoyable movie — is to put aside whatever literary agenda you are tempted to bring with you. I grant that this is not so easily done. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s slender, charming third novel has accumulated a heavier burden of cultural significance than it can easily bear.”

Also opening wide today is Peeples, (50) not directed by Tyler Perry but “presented” by him. It seems to be a black version of Meet the Parents, with the very likable Craig Robinson starring. Perhaps worth a rental. Andy Webster: “Revelations unfold predictably, but the subplots cohere and the assured pacing offers a stark contrast with the often disjointed tempos of Mr. Perry’s mosaics. And Ms. Chism, who also wrote the screenplay, avoids Mr. Perry’s judgmental, often severe brand of tough love, embracing instead a more benign stance of forgiveness and acceptance. You wonder what films she will create when she’s out from under his shadow.”

Some art house openings of note include Sarah Polley’s The Stories We Tell (92), a documentary about Polley’s mother, who died when Sarah was 11. Manohla Dargis: “Stories We Tell” is an affecting documentary tale about a mother and wife who ached in many of the familiar ways, but didn’t always follow the typical female playbook, which also gives her life the resonance of a mystery that’s too good to spoil here.”

Another prominent doc is Venus and Serena (65), about the championship tennis playing Williams sisters. Scott: “This means that tennis fans will find much to enjoy but very little that they haven’t already seen or heard. The story of how Venus and Serena changed tennis — pushed, coached and nurtured by their father, Richard, and their less talkative but no less determined mother, Oracene — is a remarkable chapter in the history of race and sports in America. The version told here is detailed but also superficial, since Ms. Baird’s and Ms. Major’s intentions and methods are more promotional than journalistic.”

I’ll close with What Richard Did (80), an Irish film that follows the repercussions of an act, I guess committed by Richard, that ripples through the community. Stephen Holden: “This brilliantly acted movie, a loose adaptation of Kevin Power’s book “Bad Day in Blackrock,” directed by Lenny Abrahamson from a screenplay by Malcolm Campbell, confronts the implications for both Richard and for the tightly knit community that reflexively protects one of its own. The film scrutinizes this affluent milieu with a nonjudgmental attitude that makes its impact all the more devastating. Everyone just wishes the situation would go away.”


About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

4 responses »

  1. Slim and I with two blockbuster disagreement two weeks in a row? Say it ain’t so! This ought to be fun as I sink further and further in everyone’s estimation (cinematically speaking of course) =)

  2. The Stories We Tell is remarkable storytelling.
    I haven’t been so emotionally manipulated since Dear Zachary, and not in a bad way. Good stuff, this. As Dargis says, too good to spoil. Greatly affecting, Sarah Polley’s life laid bare in the straightest, most powerful sense. Really great stuff.

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