By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire October 14, 2011 at 2:10AM
Everything from a remake of a beloved 80s dance flick to a new work by master filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is opening in theaters this week. Get a sense of what's worth your money by checking out the reviews published this week on indieWIRE and our blog network.
"The Big Year"
But the film itself qualifies as a rara avis: a benign, good-hearted movie about three disparate characters’ search for happiness.
The Playlist: C-
“The Big Year” could have used a little more obsession and lunacy itself; it’s a tired travelogue through physical and emotional terrain we’ve all seen before.
The beautiful desolation of “Bombay Beach” makes it difficult to describe as a documentary. Alma Har’el’s directorial debut takes a nonfiction setting and displays its haunting qualities in poetic terms.
"Fireflies in the Garden"
The Playlist: D
Ultimately, Lee’s film isn’t telling a bad story, but it’s using bad storytelling, specifically by aiming for slice-of-life realism, constructing it out of theatrical scenarios, and then undercutting their intensity with a wish-fulfillment finale.
Writer-director Craig Brewer, who made the disarming "Hustle & Flow," has taken Dean Pitchford’s 1984 screenplay and layered onto it some backstory ingredients that help it make more sense than the original.
The Playlist: B
But for the rest of its runtime, “Footloose” captures exactly what MTV used to represent, before the laws of capitalism swallowed the network whole. It’s alive and vital, day scenes shot through sun-kissed farmland, nighttime sequences powered by the infinite possibilities of youth.
"Texas Killing Fields"
It might be unfair to read an artist’s work on the basis of her lineage, but Ami Canaan Mann is asking for it.
The Playlist: D
The first hour of the movie is essentially a straight remake of the major events of Carpenter’s film with zero of the excitement or nuance.
"The Skin I Live In"
Based on Thierry Jonque’s novel “Tarantula,” Pedro Almodóvar’s “The Skin I Live In” is a medical revenge thriller about genre identity. It’s also a meandering, tonally confused work.
The filmmaker’s best work has always felt organic, even at its most outrageous; this one is burdened by an inescapable air of contrivance.
The Playlist: B-
Much like its fellow Cannes Competition selection entry “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Skin I Live In” is an unsettling dance of thanatos and eros, death and sex; unlike the Australian film’s slow and swooning ballet, Almodovar gives us a swift and shimmering tarantella: the dance that began as a folk remedy for venomous spider bites.
Loaded with torture, rape, and other explicit abuses enacted on a variety of female characters by a single oppressive male, Lucky McKee’s grim parable “The Woman” earns its status as the most controversial movie from January’s Sundance Film Festival.