The Week in Film: Viva Italia edition


The Great Beauty
(Janus Films)

From Italy comes The Great Beautyabout a one-hit wonder novelist prompted to take stock of his life at 65.  Paolo Sorrentino’s film is a beautiful one with its share of memorable shots and camera movements, but I was never quite able to connect with the characters or the story overall.  Going into the evening of Jan. 12, I would have said that the film wouldn’t have stood much of a chance in town, but now that it’s won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and is probably the Oscar frontrunner in that same category, there’s bound to be a spike in interest regardless of its unchanged content.

Labor Day
(Paramount Pictures)

Back before awards season got truly rolling, Labor Day looked like a strong contender.  Written and directed by Jason Reitman (JunoUp in the Air) and based on the novel by Joyce Maynard, the film stars Kate Winslet as a single mom who, along with her son Henry (Changeling‘s Gattlin Griffith), is held captive in her home by Frank (Josh Brolin), an escaped convict to whom they earlier gave a ride.  Reviews out of TIFF were not kind and bumped the film (which also stars Tobey Maguire, Clark Gregg and James Van Der Beek) from its Christmas Day release.  Now it’s ready for public consumption and I for one am optimistic, having liked all of Reitman’s previous work, including…heck, maybe especially the dark comedy Young Adult.

That Awkward Moment
(Focus Features)

Two of my favorite up-and-coming actors (Fruitvale Station‘s Michael B. Jordan and The Spectacular Now‘s Miles Teller) and one who makes increasingly interesting choices (Zac Efron, though that’s based almost solely on his work in The Paperboy) team up for That Awkward Moment.  The title refers to the point in (according to the film’s official description) “every dating relationship when you have to decide ‘So…where is this going?,'”something the three best friends each face.  The lovely Imogen Poots (A Late Quartet) also stars in this R-rated comedy that, considering the release date, surely won’t be as good as its promising cast suggests.  That writer/director Tom Gormican was a co-producer on the infamous Movie 43 is also maybe not the greatest sign.

Fleeing the Scene

Representing near exact opposites, the lovely Saving Mr. Banks and the ugly Devil’s Due exit together…but through different doors, of course.

New on DVD

There’s more to Ron Howard’s Rush than just intense auto racing sequences, though there’s plenty of those, too.  It leads the way this week, followed by B-listers The Fifth EstateCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Jackass presents Bad Grandpa, and C-lister Metallica Through the Never.

New on Netflix Instant

Like its musical British pensioner brethren QuartetUnfinished Song is a respectful look at aging that doesn’t skimp on tasteful humor. Quality turns by Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave help.  Other new arrivals in the narrative department are Bull Durham, Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut Man of Tai Chi, John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, George Romero’s Day of the Dead, and the Shaun of the Dead-ish Cockneys vs. Zombies.

Documentary-wise there’s Trash Dance, in which 16 garbage trucks perform a choreographed show on an airport runway, and Mitt, an in-depth look at the former Presidential candidate that’s exclusive to Netflix.


Chris March 11, 2014 - 3:46 am

Well, you got the first part right “The Great Beauty” is a great film.

Chris March 11, 2014 - 3:44 am

We’ll, at least you got the fist part right The Grest Beauty is a great film.

Forest Davenport February 2, 2014 - 11:24 am

The Great Beauty is a great film if your idea of great is pretentious, self-indulgent tripe.

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