Opening in New York, September 20, 2013

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The Oscar bait movies are finally here, as two movies getting award buzz open this weekend.

In limited release, but opening wide next weekend, is Ron Howard’s Rush, (75) a look back at the rivalry of Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Howard has never been an automatic for good movies–his films of the Dan Brown novels ended whatever respect he had built up–but this one is getting pretty decent reviews. Manohla Dargis: “Rush,” which is serious without being self-serious, fun without being trivial, feels like the movie that he has been waiting to make his whole life — it’s no wonder that he climbs into the cockpits with the camera again and again. Having a good script makes a difference, as does a brilliant cinematographer like Anthony Dod Mantle, who, shooting in digital, paints the screen in stunning, saturated colors that put the story’s extremes into vivid terms. There are no washed-out tones or characters here.”

In wide release is Prisoners, (73). When I saw the trailer for this I figured it was a throwaway thriller, but apparently it’s more than that. It was directed by Denis Villanueve, who made the excellent Incedies. The story seems familiar–two girls go missing and one of the fathers takes the law into his own hands. A. O. Scott: “But if “Prisoners,” written by Aaron Guzikowski, upholds some of the conventions of the angry-dad revenge drama, it also subverts them in surprising, at times devastating ways. The easy catharsis of righteous payback is complicated at every turn, and pain and uncertainty spread like spilled oil on an asphalt road.”

Opening on Wednesday in limited release was Enough Said, (76) which gets extra press because it’s the last film of James Gandolfini, in a romantic comedy co-starring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. Scott: “Now is the time to state that “Enough Said” is very funny indeed. Line for line, scene for scene, it is one of the best-written American film comedies in recent memory and an implicit rebuke to the raunchy, sloppy spectacles of immaturity that have dominated the genre in recent years.”

There are also the usual slew of indies and documentaries opening. After Tiller (77) concerns the few doctors who still perform late-term abortions in the U.S. +1 (68) is described as a sci-fi party film. Sticking with sci-fi, The Colony (27) stars Laurence Fishburne. My favorite title of the week is Jewtopia. (10). Yes, there’s a movie called Jewtopia.

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.

5 responses »

  1. The trailer for RUSH makes it look like it’s nothing BUT washed-out digital browns and blues. I really, really don’t like the look of the footage in the trailer.
    Surprising to hear that in the review.

  2. I said it before and I’ll say it again: A Serious Man was the apex of 4k digital cinematography, and showed what a genius can do with the medium.

  3. I’ll second the praise for Incendies. Jeanine and I watched it again (first time for Jeanine) a couple of weeks ago, and it definitely stands up to a second viewing.

    Also, Prisoners is 4K for those interested, which I think is WB’s first 4K release since Argo.

  4. It was shot on an Alexa, which, besides being an astounding camera, is a 2k camera, and upconverted to 4k for the digital intermediate. That seems as pointless as showing a 2k digital intermediate in 4k. …but maybe it’s just me.

  5. Saw ‘Enough Said’ the other day. It wasn’t bad but considering the generally high critical praise it’s gotten, I was somewhat disappointed with it.

    The main problem I had was that the central conceit (Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character still acts as a masseuse & friend to Catherine Keener even when she finds out she used to be married to her partner James Gandolfini) was never convincing. Why would she engage in such a bitter person that would only cause angst to her relationship? The movie never provides an answer.

    The film is genial, agreeable and full of interesting characters but it’s never as sharp and insightful as it should’ve been. It just feels inconsequential.

    I reckon part of the reason its getting such good reviews is because it’s Gandolfini’s final film (who is terrific and the best thing in the film).

    Rating: C+

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