"The Expendables 3" finally crashed into theaters everywhere today. Will early online piracy hurt this tired reunion of old action fogies? Who cares, because there are better ways to spend your movie weekend.
In select cities, two French auteurs deliver their finest, most introspective works in years: Catherine Breillat’s "Abuse of Weakness" dwells in the dark power plays and disabilities of her own life, with Isabelle Huppert giving, as always, a shattering performance. And in Philippe Garrel’s rueful "Jealousy," Parisian would-be bohemians (one is played by his son, Louis Garrel) are now parents in their thirties. This lovely black-and-white movie, at a lean, clean 77 minutes, finds beauty in banality.
American festival indies also wend their way to art-houses, including the whimsical comedy "Frank" starring Michael Fassbender in a giant fake head, and zombie-rom-com "Life After Beth," with Dane DeHaan and Aubrey Plaza. If that’s not your bag, bask in the summery "Trip To Italy," which reunites bantering road buddies Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on yet another food tour.
Then there’s "The Giver," a YA sci-fi franchise hopeful that, in spite of passionate producer and star Jeff Bridges, may not click with audiences who have been-there, done-that. But those of us who attended elementary and middle school in the 90s remember the Lois Lowry dystopian novel vividly, so, potentially, the nostalgia factor could work in the film’s favor.
Trailers and reviews below.
Abuse of Weakness
Directed by Catherine Breillat, France, Strand Releasing
Starring Isabelle Huppert, Kool Shen
86% Fresh | Village Voice: "Breillat’s impressive film is a study of bodies and how we carry them, and it explores the manner in which weakness seeks out strength on an almost primal level, bypassing the higher modes of human thought."
Read our interview with Isabelle Huppert
Directed by Philippe Garrel, France, DistriB Films
Starring Louis Garrel, Anna Mouglalis
85% Fresh | The New York Times: "In a brief 77 minutes, ‘Jealousy’ provides a remarkably full – and also an intriguingly partial – portrait of a group of struggling artists as no-longer-entirely-young men and women."
Directed by Phillip Noyce, USA, The Weinstein Company
Starring Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Taylor Swift
30% Fresh | Salon.com: "The truth is that it’s dim, perfunctory and wide-eyed, at least in every moment when Bridges isn’t on the screen."
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, USA, Magnolia Pictures
Starring Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy
89% Fresh | AV Club: "What chutzpah it takes to hire one of the world’s most recognizable movie stars and then render him completely unrecognizable."
Read our review
Life After Beth
Directed by Jeff Baena, USA, A24 Films
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines
42% Fresh | LA Times: "What might have been a snappy short is interminable at feature length, the mayhem-in-suburbia conceit generating few laughs as it stomps along."
The Trip to Italy
Directed by Michael Winterbottom, UK, IFC Films
Starring Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
91% Fresh | NPR: "What I find appealing about these films is their sloping, improvisational air, their quality of catching a moment of life on the wing, as when Brydon startles Coogan with a joke so good he can’t stop himself from laughing."
Directed by Todd Miller, USA, Lionsgate Films
72% Fresh | Variety: "Todd Douglas Miller’s engrossing documentary covers the triumphant discovery – and government seizure – of the world’s largest, most complete T-Rex skeleton."
Read our Sundance review