Dominating the box office this week is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (75), second of a tetralogy. I was meh about the first one, and despite my massive crush on Jennifer Lawrence I’m in no rush to see this. Manohla Dargis: “Catching Fire isn’t a great work of art but it’s a competent, at times exciting movie and it does something that better, more artistically notable movies often fail to do: It speaks to its moment in time.”
The other wide release this week is the regrettable The Delivery Man (43), starring Vince Vaughn as a frequent sperm donor who finds out he’s fathered hundreds of kids. I can’t think of much else less appealing than a movie that forces us to picture Vaughn masturbating into a cup. Jeannette Catsoulis: “As artificial as the inseminations it celebrates, Delivery Man is a soggy comedy more focused on stimulating your tear ducts than your funny bone.”
This week’s Oscar bait is Philomena (75), with lead-cinch Oscar nominee Judi Dench as an elderly woman looking for the son she gave up for adoption. Looks schmaltzy, but with Steve Coogan as co-star and one of the writers, I hold out hope. Philip Kemp: “Odd-couple chemistry from Dench and Coogan, a smart script and honed direction make this real-life story highly compelling. Blending comedy and tragedy, it secretes a potent sting.”
Speaking of Coogan, his frequent collaborator Michael Winterbottom, who always seems to be making interesting films, is back with Everyday (55), a film about a family disrupted by the father going to prison. Stephen Holden: “Moment by moment, it all adds up. The scenes of the family huddling and hugging, greeting and parting, and reaffirming primal bonds are quietly moving.”
Also this week: Bettie Page Reveals All (61), another film about the ’50s fetish model, this time a documentary; JFK: A President Betrayed (tbd), a doc narrated by Morgan Freeman about how Kennedy tried to stay out of Vietnam; and The Christmas Candle (37), an otherwise forgettable wholesome Christmas film, notable for being the first film from former (let’s hope so) politician Rick Santorum’s studio, EchoLight.