If an animated yarn about a cat impersonating Zorro in a pair of boots isn’t your thing, not to fret; there’s plenty more than “Puss In Boots” opening in theaters this week. Among them: Justin Timberlake’s first bid to become an action star in “In Time”; “Anonymous,” Roland Emmerich’s period pic on the real man behind Shakespeare’s works; Sundance-winner “Like Crazy”; and much more. Check out the reviews published this week on indieWIRE and the blog network to get a sense of what to see, what to skip.
Eric Kohn: C-
Of course, if Emmerich wants to take a break from the popcorn aesthetic, more power to him. But “Anonymous” has the same clumsy look as his disaster epics without their juvenile appeal.
But vivid atmosphere and fine performances can’t salvage this long, ultimately ponderous production. If only the script had been simplified—perhaps I should say clarified—and shortened this could have been a smashing film.
The Playlist: D
Unless Shakespeare is something that helps you decide whether to be or not to be, skip “Anonymous.”
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The concept is mildly interesting at first—even the cops are called timekeepers—but the novelty wears off pretty fast.
The Playlist: D
Andrew Niccol’s film introduces many interesting ideas—including how society adjusts and people change their lifestyle when a random or premeditated act of violence is the only way to die—without really taking them anywhere. Instead, “In Time” tries to succeed as a strict genre exercise, but the world it exists in is so poorly defined and envisioned, that as the movie clunks around into the final act, you’ll likely be more entertained keeping a catalog of all the gaps in the plot and unexplained details in the movie.
Although not exemplary, “Janie Jones” at least manages to give its tired scenario a sense of legitimacy.
The Playlist: C-
Nivola, never an entirely charismatic performer, perfectly encapsulates that soulless rock star ego, nursing hangovers through dark shades and corporate-friendly attitude. When he’s got to open up to his daughter you find it hard to cheer for him, as his change of heart isn’t entirely convincing.
Fortunately, Doremus has skillfully adapted to the formula he chooses to emulate. Following up “Douchebag” with the relationship saga “Like Crazy,” he puts together the right pieces for a perfectly tolerable and sometimes quite powerful romance.
That clever set-up provides Gere his meatiest role since his abstract performance in “I’m Not There,” a character defined by his moral ambiguity and curious circumstances. Unfortunately, the proceedings are staged with the trite, predictable rhythms of garden-variety espionage.
The Playlist: D
“The Double” is one of those very-nearly-direct-to-video releases, fleetingly saved by the multi-platform desperation of studios and production companies, and is full of antiquated, simpleminded, xenophobic rah-rah Reagan-era patriotism.
“The Rum Diary”
Robinson gives the material a light touch that only clicks when its origin story takes shape. While that’s not enough to rescue it from general mediocrity, the “Withnail & I” director delivers a peculiarly amusing prequel to the more significant chaos of Thompson in full bloom (memorably embodied by Depp in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”).
This is a film that depends more on tone and atmosphere than narrative strength. It won’t be to everybody’s taste, but I found it diverting and easy to take. I certainly like this tipsy Depp character better than Capt. Jack Sparrow.
The film’s few sparks of energy come from the occasional gleam in Depp’s eye. But a little reverence is a dangerous thing.
“Puss In Boots”
Just when you were about to give up on 3-D—and the inflated price of admission to watch it on a theater screen—along comes a film that’s worth the money. In fact, it isn’t the story that makes “Puss in Boots” stand out, but the imaginative staging, especially in 3-D.
The Playlist: B+
Suffice it to say that you’ll probably enjoy the film even more if you’re a cat lover, given its shrewd observations of their behavior; there’s nothing quite as amusing as an anthropomorphized character succumbing to his animal nature, and Miller and co. do a great job of making those moments count.
The Playlist: B
Though it takes 20 minutes to find its footing, “Urbanized” is mostly very likable and quite enlightening.