There's a lot opening this week. That said, not everyone is going to want to see monkeys battle it out with James Franco and even fewer will want to brave Raul Ruiz's 4-and-a-half hour epic "Mysteries of Lisbon." That's where we come in. Below you'll find all the reviews published this week on indieWIRE and the Blog Network.
"Mysteries of Lisbon"
A four-and-a-half hour period piece littered with interconnected events spread across many years, it moves forward with fits of intrigue, interspersed with casual developments that deaden its momentum and call into question its monumental running time.
Despite its meandering plot, “Bellflower” presents its doom-laden vision as an astonishingly distinctive state of mind, arguing that the end of one self-made world always marks the start of a new one.
The Playlist: A-
The film’s tagline reads “A love story with apocalyptic stakes.” This writer thinks a better tagline would have been simply “Love hurts.” Needless to say, if you’ve ever experienced a break-up in your life, the haywire plotting of “Bellflower” and the earnestly naturalistic performances will definitely hit home.
"Gun Hill Road"
With an opening-night slot and a bidding war won by Focus Features, the black teen coming-out saga “Pariah” was among the 2011 Sundance Film Festival’s hits. However, that fervor buried the superior accomplishments of another Sundance entry with markedly similar ingredients: Rashad Ernesto Green’s “Gun Hill Road.”
The Playlist: B-
t’s a great peek at a time long-gone in a, dare we say it, fubu (for us by us for the uncultured) attitude. The more incredible inclusions are a still-segregated New Orleans, an age-old Manhattan, and the inevitable World’s Fair; things that could’ve been given more of a spotlight based on their frozen-in-time allure. Whether it was lack of a rolling camera on the prankster’s part or the filmmakers’ insistence on moving forward is unclear, but what is shown is fascinating regardless.
The Whistleblower is capably made, by director and co-screenwriter Larysa Kondracki, on authentic-looking locations, and is (unfortunately) all too believable. As a cautionary exposé it certainly has merit, but as drama it sadly falls short.
As we know from her role as the anti-big-pharma activist in The Constant Gardener, Rachel Weisz can perform a rare feat: playing socially-conscious heroines who are fierce and passionate without being self-righteous. In The Whistleblower she is so perfectly cast as a woman who stumbles across high-level sex-trafficking that she almost single-handedly carries this disjointed movie and its weighty theme.
The Playlist: C-
Because of Weisz’s performance, “Whistleblower” is a film that will find an audience, especially for women who don’t want to watch the next installment of “Sex and the City.” She might even get some awards recognition, although 2011 is looking to be another good year for lead actresses. The thought behind the material is good, but one can only wish that Weisz had chosen a project equally as good as her talents.
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
A movie that opens as well as this one does—and draws you in so effectively—ought to have a finale that doesn’t remind you of cheesy monster movies from years past. On the other hand, the visual effects in Rise of the Planet of the Apes are so astonishing that I have to cut the movie some slack.
The Playlist: C+
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” fails to add new wrinkles to the ‘Apes’ series, instead framing Caesar’s intellectual and philosophical coming-of-age as a digression between noisy action scenes. But as a standalone science fiction action picture, ‘Apes’ features a number of sequences that whiz and hum with a slick sense of economy, framing the apes as a serious threat to their human counterparts despite looking like effects that never share the frame.
What saves it from completely going down the drain is the likability of its stars: Ryan Reynolds, who plays a pot-smoking, potty-mouthed screw-up, and Jason Bateman, his lifelong best friend who’s a workaholic lawyer and dedicated father, if a bit neglectful of his wife, Leslie Mann. Their humanity softens some of the coarseness of the screenplay.
The Playlist: C, B
But the main problem that the dull script and its equally slack execution (by “Wedding Crashers” director David Dobkin) presents is a clash of comedic styles that becomes too violent and messy to overcome. On the one hand, we have the very real scenes of domestic distress, with Mann beautifully playing the role of a woman who has to beg for her husband’s attention, side-by-side a scene where Ryan Reynolds, in his capacity as an actor, is forced to enthusiastically finger the butt-hole of an aged porn star.
"The Perfect Age of Rock N Roll"
The quality of music necessary for such iconic popularity among both critics and mainstream record buyers is just not there. And it’s a shame given that Rosenbaum is clearly a fine scholar and appreciator of music history and seems to have intended for his movie to be the next great addition to VH1’s “Movies That Rock” programming.
I have no desire to condemn everyone beyond their twenties, in a band and having trouble making rent. Yet if someone makes a movie about a thirtysomething rocker with no obvious prospects I don’t want it to be a cheery whimsical romp through empty record stores and the dive bars of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, or Portland, Oregon. Instead I want to see something like Craig Johnson’s “True Adolescents.”