During winter lull, Wes Craven, Zack Snyder offer decent flicks
Frank Langella and Liam Neeson star in “Unknown,” which opens Feb. 18.
- New Films
“Just Go with It”
Director: Dennis Dugan.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston.
The plot: A man convinces a mother of two to pose as his
soon-to-be-divorced wife in order to woo the woman of his
Genre: Comedy, romance.
“Gnomeo & Juliet”
Director: Kelly Asbury.
Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt.
The plot: An animated version of Shakespeare’s play, where
Gnomeo and Juliet are would-be lovers from rival families.
Rating: Not rated.
- Film Roundup
★★★★ (out of four)
The film, assembled in nonlinear fashion, tells the “boy meets
girl, boy loses girl, boy doesn’t get girl back” story of Dean and
Cindy (Gosling and Williams, respectively). As the movie opens, the
couple is roughly five years into their tumultuous marriage. He’s a
balding, chain-smoking alcoholic with a dead-end job, but seems
content with a simple existence. She’s a stressed, frigid,
overworked nurse who is not as content. They have a daughter
together (it is soon established that she is not Dean’s biological
child), and seeking a much-needed escape from domestic pressures,
Dean suggests that Cindy accompany him to a “theme motel” for the
night. From here the film delves heavily into flashback as we
witness the couple’s charming, sexually charged courtship intercut
with their significantly less friendly encounters in the
oppressively blue-lit “future room.” It is a night of pain and
humiliation, and it’s the last that they will spend together.
“THE KING’S SPEECH”
I must admit some trepidation when approaching films that rely
on what could be perceived as “gimmick” performances — those
“challenging” roles that Oscar voters love but, in actuality, offer
very little to viewers looking for more than mere exaggerated
caricatures (e.g. Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump,” Sean Penn in “Milk,”
Despite the sustained critical raves for Colin Firth’s
performance as the verbally impaired King George VI of England in
“The King’s Speech,” up until seeing it I remained skeptical that
even an actor as talented as Firth could transcend the limitations
of such a role — could craft a fully formed character and
performance that is defined by more than a stammer.
I responded so strongly to David O. Russell’s “The Fighter,” an
old-fashioned underdog narrative that wears sentimentality on its
The difference between Russell’s film and the dozens of other
similar, less successful sports dramas is that here, the filmmaker
lets emotion develop organically from the characters and their
histories. Instead of attempting to manipulate viewer responses via
swelling music and tearful exchanges and all manner of riffraff,
Russell (most noted for “Three Kings” and “I Heart Huckabees”) has
gone back to basics. For one, the film has a very rugged,
neorealist, almost documentary-like style that immediately lends a
certain degree of authenticity to the proceedings. Clearly, Russell
has seen Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler.”
Posted: Friday, February 4, 2011 9:47 am
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had much of an interest in
movies this week, as I’ve been spending most of my down-time
enjoying some imported Venezuelan rum while I watch the world come
apart at the seams on CNN. Violent clashes, Anderson Cooper getting
attacked by a mob, and maniacs on horses and camels ransacking the
streets of Cairo? Far more riveting than any moviegoing experience
I can think of.
(I don’t know — something about the increasingly real
possibility of complete global destabilization just makes me care
even less than usual about the latest Ashton Kutcher or Kevin James
flick. Guess I‘m just cynical.)
Friday, February 4, 2011 9:47 am.