Opening in New York, February 21, 2014

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This week we have films by two of the worst directors in Hollywood. If only Uwe Boll were releasing a film, it would be the perfect storm of cinematic wretchedness.

From McG, who has a name like a sandwich from McDonald’s, comes 3 Days to Kill (38), Kevin Costner’s attempt to have a career reborn as an action star a la Liam Neeson.  He plays a hired killer pulling one last job while minding his teenage daughter. A. O. Scott: “By any reasonable standard, 3 Days to Kill is a terrible movie: incoherent, crudely brutal, dumbly retrograde in its geo- and gender politics. But it is also, as much because of as in spite of these failings, kind of fun.”

Paul W.S. Anderson, the hack responsible for the Resident Evil movies, is back with Pompeii (41), a story of ancient Rome at the time Mt. Vesuvius blew its lid. I actually contemplated seeing this movie, as I spent a lot of time recently studying the period, but Anderson’s name on it made me come to my senses. I will end up renting it for Emily Browning. Jordan Hoffman: “The first sixty minutes of Pompeii are awful, bordering on unwatchable… The final forty-five minutes of the movie however are, by sheer force of will, irrefutably entertaining. At least there’s raining death in the form of fireballs smashing up the place.”

In art-house fare, the good news is the release of the Best Foreign Language nominee, Omar (73), from Palestine. Andrew O’Hehir:  “If Alfred Hitchcock had grown up as a Palestinian, he might have made something like Hany Abu-Assad’s Oscar-nominated Omar, which is a tender love story, a haunting tragedy and an expertly crafted thriller with flawed, damaged and not entirely likable characters.”

The bad news is Barefoot (20), which is the movie that foot fetishists have been clamoring for. Or maybe not. It has Evan Rachel Wood as some kind of mentally challenged woman that charms a rich family. Sara Stewart: “With any luck, this’ll be the death knell of the idiot-savant rom-com.”

Also this week: Elaine Strich: Shoot Me (82), a doc about the legendary entertainer; Angels in Stardust (31), with Alicia Silverstone as the mother of a teenager (God, I’m old); and In Secret (46), a new version of Zola’s Therese Raquine, with Elizabeth Olsen and Jessica Lange.  Ben Kenigsberg: “If it weren’t for the costumes, the basic plot could be mistaken for a 19th-century version of “The Postman Always Rings Twice” or “Double Indemnity.”

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.

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