The Week in Film: Unrated edition


In Theaters

It’s a good week for movies if you don’t mind a few penises.  The two best new releases offer their share of male genitalia (and then some), and would have been the three best if the Fine Arts Theatre hadn’t dropped James Franco’s interesting, experimental Interior. Leather Bar (out April 15 on DVD).

Nymphomaniac: Vol. I
(Magnolia Pictures)

First up is Nymphomaniac: Vol. I, the latest from Danish provocateur Lars von Trier (DogvilleBreaking the Waves).  Charlotte Gainsbourg (Melancholia) stars as Joe, who, after found sprawled in an alley and taken home to recuperate by Jude (Stellan Skarsgård, Good Will Hunting), recounts her many sexual exploits to him.  With her younger self played by stunning newcomer Stacy Martin, these encounters are frequent and graphic yet are accompanied by some interesting commentary and comparisons from Jude.  It’s one of the best films I’ve seen this year so far and has me looking forward to Vol. II (out April 11).

Not rated. Opens at the Carolina Asheville on Friday, April 4.

Stranger by the Lake
(Strand Releasing)

Just as sexually explicit is the French erotic thriller Stranger by the Lake.  Its action wholly confined to the titular location’s shore during summertime, a popular gay cruising spot, the film’s steady string of male nudity and sex may be a turn-off for some.  That’s too bad because surrounding the copious skin is a well made, finely acted and highly suspenseful work.  With the exception of an ending set in indecipherable (though arguably symbolic) darkness, the only thing keeping it from Nymphomaniac territory is the lack of topical commentary.  Still, if every unrated film asked the big questions, there’d be no room for a solid, straightforward work like this that manages to incorporate these daring images into a successful whole.  I’m not planning on writing a full review, but if I did, I’d give it a B+.

Not rated. Opens at the Fine Arts Theatre on Friday, April 4.

Tim’s Vermeer
(Sony Pictures Classics)

Beginning the nudity-free offerings is Tim’s Vermeer, a documentary from famed illusionist duo Penn and Teller.  The film follows their inventor friend Tim Jenison as he investigates whether 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer may have used technology such as lenses to achieve the line-free clarity for which he’s known, an obsession that grows into Jenison using his hypothetical methods to recreate Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson.”  The subject is interesting and the artistic findings are pretty exceptional, but it’s also a bit repetitive and there’s not much to warrant it being seen on the big screen.

Rated PG-13. Opens at the Carolina Asheville on Friday, April 4.

The Face of Love
(IFC Films)

Thought the doppelgänger trend ended with Muppets Most Wanted and The Enemy?  Think again!  Two Ed Harrises show up in The Face of Love, in which L.A. widow Nikki (Annette Bening) locates her late husband’s double (Harris) and proceeds to romance him…without revealing why, of course.  The two leads, co-starring for the first time, are a pleasant couple and the unusual circumstances of their relationship is interesting for a while, but frustration with Nikki’s resistance to tell the truth nearly kills it.  If you’re a fan of these actors, though, you’re in for a treat.

Rated PG-13. Opens at the Carolina Asheville on Friday, April 4.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
(Walt Disney Studios)

The lone new film I haven’t seen this week is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and I’ll take care of that on Thursday night. I don’t know if this counts as a summer release, especially since The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems to have that season ready to go on May 2, but if not it seems a little odd to have a big Marvel film in a transition season.  (Thor: The Dark World was a November release, though…)  Chris Evans returns as ye olde red, white, and blue hero along with fellow Avenger Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and, if he counts as an Avenger, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).  Robert Redford and Anthony Mackie join in on the fun, which involves the other titular character, a dangerous Soviet agent who, based on the trailers, is a more impressive fighting machine than the Captain himself.

Rated PG-13. Opens at Beaucatcher, Biltmore Grande, and Carolina Asheville on Friday, April 4.

Fleeing the Scene

For once, everything that’s leaving has a good deal of merit.  Neither The Lego Movie, The Enemy, Gloria300: Rise of an Empire or Need for Speed received lower than a B- from me.  The next batch of departures, on the other hand…
Not much this week besides the surprisingly decent 47 Ronin and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which isn’t funny in its PG-13 or R-rated versions.
On Netflix Instant
Season 6 of Mad Men is currently available to help get caught up before the April 13 premiere of the 7th and final season.  Following its AMC brother Breaking Bad, the send off will be split into two parts with most likely a year of waiting in between.
Seasons 1-8 of House are also available, if you like that sort of thing, as are a rash of new releases, most of which were only gone from Netflix for a few months, some seemingly for a few days:
  • Ali
  • Amistad
  • Amores Perros
  • Angel Heart
  • Barton Fink
  • The Bells of St. Mary’s
  • Braveheart
  • Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter
  • Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
  • Chinatown
  • Click
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Cone Heads
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Death Wish 1-4
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Dragonslayer
  • The English Patient
  • The Fifth Element
  • For a Few Dollars More
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  • The Graduate
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
  • Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
  • Inventing the Abbots
  • Jane Eyre (1944; the one starring Orson Welles and written by Aldous Huxley and The Paper Chase‘s John Houseman)
  • Jobs
  • Jumanji
  • Lars and the Real Girl
  • A League of Their Own
  • The Man with One Red Shoe
  • Mean Girls
  • The Muppets Take Manhattan
  • My Bloody Valentine (1981)
  • My Bodyguard
  • The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear
  • Narco Cultura
  • The Odd Couple (1968)
  • The Queens of Comedy
  • Rabbit-Proof Fence
  • The River’s Edge (1957)
  • The Robe (1953)
  • Robinson Crusoe on Mars
  • Rocky I-V
  • Roger Dodger
  • The Running Man
  • Scary Movie 3
  • Sense and Sensibility (1995)
  • Spanglish
  • Steel Magnolias (2012)
  • Stephen King’s Thinner
  • Stuart Saves His Family
  • The Terminator
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
  • Titanic (1997)
  • The Yards


Chris April 4, 2014 - 3:52 pm

White Reindeer is also now on Netflix

Netflixter April 4, 2014 - 11:08 am

Thanks for the Netflix new releases list. I don’t get out to the movies often, so it’s nice to see that!

Edwin Arnaudin April 4, 2014 - 11:09 am

You’re welcome!

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