An early candidate for the year-end Top 10 is joined by what could be the year’s worst film.
Captivating Korean director Park Chan-Wook makes his English language debut with Stoker. After the untimely death of her father Richard (Dermot Mulroney, My Best Friend’s Wedding), India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska, Alice in Wonderland) is even more withdrawn than usual. Living with her mother (Nicole Kidman) in their sizable house, the two are joined by Richard’s brother Charlie (Mathew Goode, Watchmen), whom neither knew existed until the funeral. His arrival triggers a series of disappearances and general creepiness, all of which plays out in wonderfully stylized fashion. With Spike Lee’s remake of Park’s Oldboy set to hit screens in October, interest in Park is likely to hit an all-time high. All the more reason to see his latest success while it’s in town. Look for my review on Friday.
Tina Fey plays a Princeton admissions officer in the aptly titled Admission, the latest film from director Paul Weitz (About A Boy, Being Flynn). Invited to a hippie alternative school, she falls for its administrator (Paul Rudd) and investigates whether one of its students (Nat Wolff, New Year’s Eve) is the child she gave up for adoption years ago. The cast, which also includes Lily Tomlin, Michael Sheen, and Wallace Shawn, is certainly amiable and the film is based on the well-received novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Weitz has used these assets to his advantage multiple times, so we’ll see if he can do it again.
The latest installment in Michael Apted’s Up series, 56 Up checks in on the subjects he first filmed as 7-year-olds in 1964. As with prior chapters, this 144 minute (really?) documentary explores the changes that have occurred in the last seven years and further enriches one of cinema’s most ambitious projects. Fortunately, Apted does a good job of intercutting footage from earlier Up films, so one need not go back and have a marathon to understand what’s going on this go-round. Look for my review on Friday.
The first of two “White House Under Siege” films this year, Olympus Has Fallen features former Presidential guard Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) attempting to rescue President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) from terrorists. Among the national security team aiding him in the operation are none other than Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, and Robert Forster. Still living in the shadows of 2001’s Training Day, director Antoine Fuqua is in desperate need of a hit. Will this be it? More interesting, though, is whether the film will be better than June’s White House Down, starring Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum.
The Croods comes courtesy of Dreamworks animation, the folks behind Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. It’s about a family of cave-people (voiced by the likes of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, and Catherine Keener) who set out on conceivably the world’s first road trip. Along the way, they encounter the family drama and adventure of the genre, but with era-appropriate twists. Best case scenario, it’s fun for the whole family. Worst case, only the kids have a good time. There are certainly worse options. Speaking of…
Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers made me realize that I was too hard on A Haunted House. I may not have laughed once during Marlon Wayans’ film, but compared to Korine’s failed satire of youth culture, it’s a somewhat decent little movie. The thoroughly annoying Breakers looks at the the highs and lows of four college girls (including former Disney Channel stars Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez in overhyped “good girls gone bad” roles) while at St. Petersberg, Florida’s annual week of partying. While there, they befriend a cornrowed mid-level gangster played by James Franco and collectively infuriate the hell out of every single person in the audience. Look for my review on Friday and don’t be surprised if it winds up being my least favorite film of 2013.
Fleeing the Scene
John Dies at the End unfortunately yet predictably fared poorly, so you have until Thursday night to enjoy its goodness at the Carolina. (A standing ovation to them for bringing the film to town, though.) Also out are A Good Day to Die Hard, Identity Thief, Dead Man Down, and, for the gazillionth time, Argo.
Tough to choose between The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Zero Dark Thirty as the week’s best option. The wild card here is the comedy Bachelorette, in which Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, and Rebel Wilson attempt to cash in on the success of Bridesmaids with a raunchy comedy of their own. I’ve yet to see it, but reviews suggest their quest was unsuccessful.
On Netflix Instant
Kumare, the thought-provoking guru-con documentary mentioned in last week’s DVD roundup is now streaming. David Cronenberg’s interesting but sloppy Cosmopolis, featuring a rare non-teenybop performance by Robert Pattinson, is also available. Then there’s the romantic drama Evening, with an impressive cast that includes Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Claire Danes, Vanessa Redgrave, Hugh Dancy, and Toni Collette. And lastly, of stateside interest is The Trials of Darryl Hunt, a documentary about a black North Carolina man who spent 20 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.