A lackluster week for the multiplexes, but some interesting offerings in the art houses.
I’ll start there, with Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur (68), based on a play by David Ives that I saw on Broadway. The location has been moved to Paris, but the plot seems to remain the same–a director is auditioning actresses for his play based on Masoch’s Venus in Fur. A blousy woman blows in, but she may not be who she seems to be. Scott Foundas: “A delightfully intricate battle of wits and wills in which the question of who’s directing/seducing/torturing whom remains constantly shifting open to interpretation.”
Coherence (64) is a low-budget sci-fi/horror film. A.A. Dowd: “The result is an uncommonly clever genre movie, reliant not on special effects — of which there are basically none — but on heavy doses of paranoia.”
How far Paul Haggis has fallen! After his award-winning Crash, he’s been in a death spiral. His latest is Third Person (32), getting vicious reviews. Kevin Jagernauth: “Third Person is an audacious failure, one that even its starry cast can’t save. With a trite script, and an even more glib thematic undercurrent, Third Person is nothing short of an outright embarrassment.
From Sweden comes a World War II drama, The Last Sentence (57) directed by Jan Troell. Farran Smith Nehme: “This is a handsome movie, rich in period detail, but the stately pace slows to a crawl in the second half.” Nick?
Now for the multiplex trash. The most promising is Jersey Boys (54), based on the broadway jukebox musical, directed by of all people Clint Eastwood. Eastwood hasn’t made a good film since Letters from Iwo Jima, and word is he’s either too old or too lazy, and his films have a casual feel, almost as if they weren’t directed at all. Steve Persall: “Eastwood’s unvarnished storytelling style, usually his strength as a filmmaker, is terribly out of place here. If ever a movie needed flashbacks, dream sequences, any attempt no matter how cliche to goose the narrative, it’s this one.”
Think Like a Man Too (37), a sequel to the infomercial for Steve Harvey’s book, reminds us that it’s great that there are films marketed to African-Americans, it’s just a shame they are uniformly terrible. Sara Stewart: “If Think Like a Man Too was a man, he would be the world’s worst date: humorless, shrill, speaking primarily in clichés (“what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”) and absolutely terrified of women.”
Also this week: Code Black (77), a doc about an emergency room; Fonzy (55), which is not a Happy Days update but instead about a man who finds out he’s fathered 533 children (didn’t we see this already in The Delivery Man?); and Northern Light (84), a doc about a snowmobile race.