I broke protocol last week and reviewed Philomena, The Book Thief, Homefront, and Frozen before previewing them, but at least you got the critiques quicker, right? Right??? Either way, not many new ones this week, and that includes the Weinsteins brining back Lee Daniels’ The Butler…which only left a month ago.
Out of the Furnace stars Christian Bale as Russell Baze, a Pennsylvania man whose brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) disappears after a bare-knuckle boxing match. When the authorities fail to find Rodney, Russell takes matters into his own hands and goes up against menacing local crime boss Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson). Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, Willem Dafoe, and Forest Whitaker make this a pretty bang-up cast, which is almost mandatory to stand out this final month of the movie year. Where things start to get tricky is in its direction by Scott Cooper, whose Crazy Heart was so overblown with Jeff Bridges Oscar hype that few paused to realize it really wasn’t that great a film. Cooper’s latest work was tentatively supposed to screen for us local critics last weekend, but the distributor balked and that hesitancy has me all sorts of worried.
The other debut is Spinning Plates, a fantastic documentary about three very different restaurants and the people behind them. I wrote a capsule review when I saw it at Full Frame and, though I doubt it will last more than a week at the Carolina, think it could be the right movie for anyone who likes food and interesting humans.
Fleeing the Scene
Last week gave us Jobs, RED 2, Getaway, and The Canyons. This week gives us even bleaker options with the indie comedy Drinking Buddies and the Beatles’ secretary doc Good Ol’ Freda being the only recommended ones and The Wolverine, The Smurfs 2, and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones lagging far behind.
On Netflix Instant
Last week brought the fun Michael Cera comedy Crystal Fairy; the hardcore Michael Shannon contract killer film The Iceman; Disney’s Robin Hood and The Sword in the Stone; the intriguing but ultimately so-so French thriller In the House; the drinking water doc Last Call at the Oasis; the fun yet sad Monroe biopic My Week with Marilyn; Chiwetel Ejiofor’s other 2013 period piece, Savannah; the Red Dawn remake; the literal one-take wonder Russian Ark; and five more MST3K offerings.
This week, even with the First of the Month offerings, there’s mostly a lot of titles whose licenses must have been recently renewed, so they don’t warrant mentioning. Ones that do include All About Eve, Big Boys Gone Bananas!*, Dances with Wolves, Gods and Monsters, Hannibal (Biltmore House alert!), Hard Eight, Kalifornia, A Shot in the Dark, Targets, and Where the Buffalo Roam (a.k.a. Bill Murray’s Hunter S. Thompson film).