This weekend, it’s all about variety at the cinema. Three of the world’s most well respected auteurs (Werner Herzog, Clint Eastwood and Lars von Trier) have new works opening, while Adam Sandler and some really dodgy 3D (courtesy of “Immortals”) threaten to dominate the box-office. Get a feel for what’s worth your money by checking out the reviews published this week on Indiewire and the blog network.
Werner Herzog never enters the frame during his latest eccentric nonfiction foray, “Into the Abyss,” but the director’s phantom presence is the star of the show.
The Playlist: B
Still, despite this large oversight, Herzog ultimately manages to take a breed of documentary, which has nestled for too long in its lack of ambition, in a different direction.
“Elite Squad: The Enemy Within”
Though many American critics thought otherwise, José Padilha’s 2007 shoot-em-up “Elite Squad” was among the top action movies of the past decade, a relentless and thoroughly immersive look at the brutal street tactics of Rio de Janeiro’s Special Police Operations Battalion, aka BOPE.
With its crushingly abrupt and tragic finale, “London Boulevard” finally hits on a visual poetry that the rest of the movie, with its relentlessly sleek exterior, never bothers to attempt.
Nothing in “Melancholia” can match the dazzling experience of its opening sequence.
To my mind, “Melancholia” is both absorbing and absurd.
Women and Hollywood
I’m glad I got pushed into seeing it because it is a very good film.
Another glaring problem plagues the picture, which spans six decades: while one can (gradually) accept DiCaprio’s aging makeup, and even Naomi Watts’s, it is impossible to invest in any latter-day scene involving Armie Hammer because his old-age makeup is so astonishingly bad.
On the scale of Eastwood movies, “J. Edgar” is much closer to “Flags of Our Fathers” – Serious, Important, Dull – than to the fiery originality and energy of “Letters From Iwo Jima.”
Working from a screenplay by Dustin Lance Black and starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, “J. Edgar” certainly has a high-end pedigree, but the film is so concerned with being “refined” that it sacrifices momentum.
The Playlist: C-
The saddest part is that underneath all of the make-up and the innuendo, DiCaprio and Hammer both give terrific performances.
“Jack and Jill”
The Playlist: D
As usual, Sandler maintains his “nicest guy in Hollywood” rep by employing his very good friends, none of which can maintain a career on their own.
On the face of it the story has possibilities, but in Charles and Vlas Parlapanides’ screenplay it’s handled in ponderous fashion.
The Playlist: C+
As our shirtless hero, Cavill is notably upstaged by the staggeringly overwhelming set design and effects.