While it may not be his greatest film, The Skin I Live In is still essential viewing for any Pedro Almodovar fan. Just gazing at stars Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya and the gorgeous sets within this beyond-twisted melodrama is worth the ticket price. Given the star power spread across the other films on offer, you’d think there was much to look forward to, but critics are grasping at straws trying to say positive things about the likes of Fireflies in The Garden (Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe), Trespass (Nicole Kidman, Nicholas Cage), Universal’s remake of The Thing (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Edgerton) and The Big Year (Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson). Ami Canaan Mann’s (Michael Mann’s daughter) gritty debut Texas Killing Fields, inspired by actual events, is boosted by a strong cast (Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Chloe Moretz). But it’s a wasted opportunity; promising moments are weakened by an uninspired script and clumsy construction. Believe it or not, the Footloose remake is making critics tap their feet.
The Skin I Live In, Sony Pictures Classics, SPAIN | Director: Pedro Almodovar; Cast: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Blanca Suarez, Jan Cornet, Marisa Paredes | B criticWIRE | TOH! interviews Banderas | iW interviews Anaya | 79% Tomatometer | Glenn Kenny: “As visually and sonically gorgeous as anything Almodovar has ever done.” | Karina Longworth: “[An] ever-unfurling, ultimately infuriating web of a film.”
Footloose, Paramount, US | Director: Craig Brewer; Cast: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Miles Teller | 67% Tomatometer | Roger Ebert: “This 2011 version is so similar – sometimes song for song and line for line – that I was wickedly tempted to reprint my 1984 review, word for word.” | Roger Moore: “In most regards (We still miss Kevin Bacon), this is a “new and improved” “Footloose,” funnier, sunnier and funkier. Simply put, it works.”
Texas Killing Fields, Anchor Bay, US | Director: Ami Canaan Mann; Cast: Chloe Moretz, Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jessica Chastain, Annabeth Gish, Stephen Graham | B criticWIRE | 67% Tomatometer | Neil Young: “Despite the presence of some notable names at the top of the cast including the currently ubiquitous Jessica Chastain, the steadily-paced drama looks more of a small-screen proposition.”
Fireflies in the Garden, Senator Entertainment, US | Director: Dennis Lee; Cast: Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Carrie-Anne Moss | indieWIRE | 22% Tomatometer | Alissa Simon: “Despite the mega-wattage of pic’s starry cast, theatrical prospects seem dim for this clumsy melodrama, which looks and sounds no better than an average made-for-cabler.” | ThePlaylist: “Fireflies in the Garden is the cinematic equivalent of going out to dinner with your friend’s family and then having to watch them all fight like cats and dogs the whole time: it’s got to be worse for the people going through it, but you sure as hell have no interest in watching it.”
Trespass, Millenium Entertainment, US | Director: Joel Schumacher; Cast: Nicolas Cage, Cam Gigandet, Nicole Kidman, Liana Liberato, Nico Tortorella | D criticWIRE | 26% Tomatometer | Nathan Rabin: “Trespass begins loopy and mounts in craziness until it’s frothing-at-the-mouth insane.”
The Thing, Universal, US/CAN | Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.; Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen | 34% Tomatometer | Kathleen Murphy: “How can you dial up the bone-deep terror that comes from failure of faith in the humanity of your friends and colleagues if you never distinguish real from cardboard people?”
The Big Year, Fox 2000, US | Director: David Frankel; Cast: Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Rashida Jones, Rosamund Pike | 45% Tomatometer | Christy Lemire: “The Big Year flaps its wings awfully hard but never truly takes flight.”
The Woman, Bloody Disgusting, US | Director: Lucky McKee; Cast: Angela Bettis, Pollyanna McIntosh, Sean Bridgers, Marcia Bennett, Carlee Baker | B criticWIRE | iW interviews McIntosh | 77% Tomatometer | Peter Bradshaw: “It’s a muddled, muffled, extremely unpleasant film that fails to illuminate the true story on which it is allegedly based.”
More films opening this weekend are here.