Slim new offerings means time to catch up on the wealth of the past few weeks.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Sundance, Smashed is the story of a young wife (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who decides to get sober with the help of her equally boozy husband (Aaron Paul). Winstead was a fantastic dream girl in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the year’s best Mary Todd (sorry, Sally Field) in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Paul is largely untested in film, but the Breaking Bad co-star has done alright with addiction on the small screen, and makes for a promising foil. With a strong supporting cast, including real-life couple Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, the film feels a bit reminiscent of Like Crazy but with more Jack Daniels…and that’s fine with me. Look for my review on Friday.
Slightly less appealing is Playing for Keeps, in which Gerard Butler plays a former Scottish soccer star down on his luck. Looking for a fresh start, he coaches his son’s soccer team and attracts the attentions of some soccer moms (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Judy Greery) and maybe a soccer dad (Dennis Quaid). What would really life his spirits, however, is to repair the relationship with his ex-wife. Yep, can’t tell where this one is going… Cue that hokey pop music!
Fleeing the Scene
Flight and The Sessions are gratefully out at the Carolina, though the latter somehow lingers at the Fine Arts.
Quantity rules the deck this week, with a smattering of quality. The best offering by far is the good-as-advertised Dark Knight Rises. Qualifying as “interesting” is the collaborative horror film V/H/S. Elsewhere on the ladder is the AARP-marriage-counseling flick Hope Springs, the son-grows-in-the-garden family picture The Odd Life of Timothy Green, and the star-studded butter-carving comedy…um…Butter. Then there’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, up with The Hunger Games as the year’s most disappointing film. Try telling that to the hosts of critics societies, however, most of whom will lavish praise on the vapid celebration of squalor in their year-end awards.
On Netflix Instant
If you’ve seen Dogtooth, it’s tough not to get excited over Greek writer/director Giorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up, Alps. His prior film’s tale of an overprotective father may have been wild, but his latest’s of people hired to impersonate the recently deceased to help their clients grieve is (at least on paper) even wilder. The other big 2012 release this week is Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, easily one of the year’s best documentaries. Bringing up the rear (though what a fine rear it is) falls to The Adventures of Tintin. Steven Spielberg’s Raiders-esque motion-capture adventure played incredibly well on the big screen in 3D. I’m unsure how it’ll do shrunken down and in 2D, but I suspect it will hold up.