This week we have the first significant 2014 release, and an animated film that is getting surprisingly good reviews.
Monuments Men (53), was pushed back from a late 2013 release. The tepid reviews would seem to indicate why. It’s a good cast, but most reviews say it’s nothing special. George Clooney, as a director, has never matched his success with Good Night, and Good Luck. Louis Black: “Ultimately, however, this film is a collection of vignettes in search of a narrative center. Although it’s enjoyable, the film never coheres into a whole. Instead, it resembles a pile of ill-fitting jigsaw-puzzle pieces rather than a fully formed picture.”
This week’s surprise is The LEGO Movie (81). What could have easily been a long commercial for the toy, the Danish company tried to make an actual good movie, and appears to have succeeded. Matt Maytum: “Ridiculously funny and meticulously detailed, The LEGO Movie is far better than a toy tie-in movie has any right to be. Despite a couple of dips, you’ll be grinning throughout.”
Also in wide release today is The Vampire Academy (tbd), not screened for critics. This movie seems way behind the curve on youthful vampires, and I imagine even teen girls, the target audience, are done with this by now. Of course, dirty old men, the other target, may show up in their raincoats.
And Nurse 3D (21), which James is very excited about. Robert Abele: “Co-writer and director David Aarniokoski’s clunky, crude blotch of prurience and bloodletting is too self-satisfied with its wink-wink naughtiness to be either fun-dumb or scary-sexy.” Sounds like a rental.
There are also a host of indie films opening this week. The highest number goes to the one sounding the most intriguing: A Field in England (75), about soldiers during 17th century England who are imprisoned by an alchemist looking for buried treasure. David Lee Dallas: “Ben Wheatley’s film is a reckless combination of period piece, war drama, broad comedy, psychedelic fever dream, and occult horror-scape.”
We also get Love & Air Sex (57)–just what is “air sex;” The Pretty One (55), with Zoe Kazan playing a set of twins; The Last of the Unjust (nr), the new documentary from Claude Lanzmann, the director of Shoah; and Cavemen (19), a romantic comedy. Neil Genzlinger: “The only reason to watch “Cavemen,” a terrible movie about a bland, morose young man’s search for love, is to contrast it with “Ground Floor,” a TBS sitcom about a smart, funny young man’s search for love. The young man in both cases is played by Skylar Astin. The TV show, which has recently completed its first season, makes fine use of his limited skills. The movie just makes you want to slap him.”