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Open Wide . . .

Open Wide . . .

. . . cause you’re about to get a mouthful of shit.

Expanding wide this week are Peter Jackson’s execrable The Lovely Bones (which turns Alice Sebold’s tale of familial disintegration and reconstruction into a mindless boogey-man thriller) and Michael Hoffman’s flat The Last Station (which turns the story of Tolstoy’s final days into a variation on Daddy’s Dyin, Who’s Got the Will?). To refresh your memory (which you’ll want to erase after seeing these movies), here are Reverse Shot’s reviews from December.

Adam Nayman on Boners: I never read Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones, possibly because I didn’t spend enough time in airport bookstores in 2002. So I can’t say whether or not Peter Jackson’s film version fails out of excessive reverence to its source material, or because it’s not faithful enough. But I can say with total confidence that it is a failure, and a conspicuous one at that. Arriving near the end of an Oscar season already flush with egregious offenders, from the glibly pandering (Up in the Air) to the earnestly dull (Invictus), Jackson’s film stands out in its strident commitment to bad ideas. More.

Chris Wisniewski on The Last Station: Leo and Sofya Tolstoy had one of the great literary marriages—a passionate half-century love affair that resulted in the birth of 13 children, a deep and abiding partnership that inspired and helped to produce some of the most significant works in all of world literature, and a scornful, destructive relationship that drove each of them to the brink of insanity. They were collaborators, lovers, and formidable adversaries, and theirs was a story so richly dramatic that Tolstoy pilfered liberally from it in War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and The Kreutzer Sonata, among other works. With The Last Station, writer-director Michael Hoffman, whose best film is the delightfully absurd satire Soapdish (other, lesser credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, One Fine Day, and Restoration), takes this legendarily tempestuous relationship and turns it into middling awards bait. More.

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