Opening on Wednesday were two films, one a comedy sequel, the other prime Oscar bait.
The likely box office winner is Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (61), one of the most over-promoted movies in human history. It’s hard to understand why, since it certainly had a built in audience that didn’t need any reminding. There were articles on whether the incessant promotion would produce a backlash. I doubt that. But it did diminish my interest in the film, which was pretty low to start. I thought the original was just okay, and Will Ferrell’s schtick is wearing pretty thin. Ty Burr: “While Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a disappointment — how could it not be? — it’s not for lack of trying. If anything, the movie tries too hard.”
For your Oscar consideration is Spike Jonze’s Her (91), a love story about a man and an operating system. Great reviews and several critics’ awards set this up as a potential Best Picture nominee, and there’s a debate about whether a voice-only performance, by Scarlett Johansson, should get an Oscar nomination. I doubt it. A must see for me, though. Andrew O’Hehir: “This is a handcrafted, passionate and sometimes impossibly beautiful film that argues for both the past and the future, with a poetic spirit that’s extremely rare in American cinema.”
Also this week is something called Walking With Dinosaurs (37), a 3D family film that I guess is educational. Tom Russo: “However well-intentioned the movie may be, it spills over with flat cutesy humor, making a slog out of an experience that should be filled with wonder.”
For more highbrow audiences, there’s The Past (84), Asghar Farhadi’s follow up to his Oscar-winning A Separation. It was just announced, though, that this one is not in the finalists for Best Foreign Language Film, something of a surprise. Elizabeth Weitzman: “The Past is not as nuanced as its predecessor — and not as impactful, either. But this is still far more complex than most family dramas.”
All the Light in the Sky (62) is the latest from mumblecore director Joe Swanberg about the difficulties of an actress entering middle age. Nathan Rabin: “All The Light In The Sky is a refreshingly grown-up exploration of a woman at a personal and professional crossroads that’s stronger for never pushing its narrative or its finely wrought lead character in the direction of big moments or bullshit epiphanies. It’s casual, but also quietly moving.”
Finally is The Selfish Giant (83), another British miserabilist picture, about the friendship between two boys in the North of England. Neil Young: “[A] solidly effective addition to Britain’s social realism tradition, elevated by excellent performances by the young leads and some unexpectedly poetic touches.”