Slow week on the new release front, but there are a couple of films worth seeking out. The best bet is probably the solid Elmore Leonard adaptation “Life of Crime,” a “Jackie Brown” prequel (or prequel to the original novel “Rum Punch,” anyway) featuring strong work from John Hawkes and Jennifer Aniston, taking a rare break from mainstream comedy to turn in some of the strongest work of her career.
Otherwise, fans of John Carney’s musical romance “Once” might want to check out “Begin Again,” which sees the director in similar territory in a romance between songwriter Keira Knightley and music producer Mark Ruffalo. Both films are better bets than the other releases this week: the preposterous exorcism/cop film “Deliver Us From Evil,” Zac Braff’s “Garden State” follow-up “Wish I Was Here” and James Franco’s ill-advised adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “Child of God.”
The classic releases this week are a bit more robust, with the highlight undoubtedly being Criterion’s “The Complete Jacques Tati” Blu-Ray box set. Fans can marathon some of the greatest comedies ever made, including “M. Hulot’s Holiday,” “Mon Oncle” and “Play Time,” as well as less-heralded efforts like “Trafic” and “Parade.” Horror fans, meanwhile, can prepare for Halloween by picking up Criterion’s Blu-Ray update of George Sluizier’s chilling “The Vanishing” or Kino’s release of “Planet of Vampires.” And while this writer is with Indiewire’s Greg Cwik on Clive Barker’s “Nightbreed,” the new release of the Director’s Cut from Scream! Factory finally makes available the version director Clive Barker and his fans always wanted.
More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:
Eric Kohn, Indiewire
Yet it works significantly better than more mainstream productions because of the legitimacy its actors bring to the project. Knightley’s sorrowful state plays nicely off Ruffalo’s sputtering showbiz enthusiasm. His character’s own background would strain from contrived ingredients if it weren’t so credibly embodied…Read more.
“Child of God”
Criticwire Average: B-
Mike D’Angelo, The Dissolve
The book simply doesn’t offer anything of interest that can be externalized and photographed, unless one is fascinated by ranting and gibbering. What’s left in the absence of McCarthy’s prose is a sincere but fundamentally pointless ode to a madman, which does little more than invite viewers to gawk at the unspeakable. Read more.
“Deliver Us From Evil”
Criticwire Average: C+
A.A. Dowd, The A.V. Club
Stephen Whitty, NJ.com
Aniston is the trophy wife — a trophy that is getting a little tired of the drunken lout who thinks he deserves her — and she’s a good, flinty presence. (She’s so much better when she stays away from rom-coms). Read more.
“Wish I Was Here”
Criticwire Average: B-
Michael Phillips, The Chicago Tribune