In Theaters

Noah (Paramount Pictures)
Noah
(Paramount Pictures)

“I want you to build an Ark.”
“Right!……Whats an Ark?”

Despite being a no-brainer, it remains to be seen whether the immortal lines of Bill Cosby will be uttered in Noah, the epic telling of the Genesis story by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a DreamBlack Swan).  Russell Crowe stars as the boat-builder-to-be with Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Douglas Booth rounding out his immediate family, Anthony Hopkins as his grandfather Methuselah, and Ray Winstone as his nemesis Tubal-cain.  I’ve liked all of Aronofsky’s films (though I have more respect for Pi than admiration and should give it another look) and am confident that his craftsmanship will transfer to big-budget territory.  Also, Cosby is not listed in the IMDb credits as the film’s narrator, but sometimes directors want these kind of things to remain surprises.

The Enemy (A24)
The Enemy
(A24)

This week’s mind-screwing comes courtesy of The Enemy, which reunites director Denis Villeneuve with his Prisoners star Jake Gyllenhaal.  The former Donnie Darko plays Toronto university professor Adam, who discovers that he has an exact double who also lives in the city.  The pair meet and things get complicated from there, involving spiders to a debatable extent with potential Fight Club parallels as well.  It’s a beautiful looking and moody film that will hold your attention, even if you’re not quite sure what it all means.  (I still don’t have a clear answer and I may never get one.)  Mélanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds), Sarah Gadon (A Dangerous Method), and Isabella Rossellini co-star.  See it while you can.

Bad Words (Focus Features)
Bad Words
(Focus Features)

With the exception of a few choice supporting roles (e.g. JunoDodgeball), Jason Bateman does not have the best track record when it comes to movies.  On Arrested Development alone, the guy can clearly do TV well, but giant whiffs like Identity Thief have kept him from translating his charm to the big screen.  Perhaps that will change with Bad Words, Bateman’s directorial debut, in which he plays an adult who exploits a loophole in a children’s spelling bee and enters in the hopes of erasing his loss at just such a competition as a youth.  Kathryn Hahn (Parks & Recreation), Allison Janney, and Philip Baker Hall lend a hand, possibly two.

Sabotage (Open Road Films)
Sabotage
(Open Road Films)

Sadly not a feature-length expansion of Spike Jonze’s celebrated Beastie Boys video, Sabotage is the latest police actioneer from writer/director David Ayer.  (The poster and trailer highlight that the film is from the writer of Training Day and the director of End of Watch as if they were two different people.  They are not.)  Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the leader of an elite DEA task force whose other members include Sam Worthington (Avatar), Mirielle Enos (World War Z), Terrence Howard, and Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike).  After the team busts a cartel safe house, they start getting picked off one by one while a brash federal investigator (Rushmore‘s Olivia Williams, in an interesting bit of casting)…umm…investigates.  End of Watch was entertaining enough and as long as Sabotage doesn’t replicate it found-footage approach, we should be OK. In terms of recent Schwarzeneggericity, hopefully this one will be more along the lines of The Last Stand and less like Escape Plan.

Fleeing the Scene

Better Living Through Chemistry hung around longer than I expected, especially with The Carolina relegating it to sofa cinema status from the get-go.  (You like Sam Rockwell! You really like him!)  The second run of 12 Years a Slave also comes to an end, along with an overlong American Hustle tenure, a fair stay for the solid Non-Stop, and a one-week run for Veronica Mars, suggesting that perhaps it should have headed straight to TV like its source show.  Oh yeah, Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club is also gone, though the characters (played by different actresses) will soon resurface in a TV series on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
On DVD
Covering the spectrum of quality, there’s one of 2013’s best (The Wolf of Wall Street) and worst (Delivery Man) films.  We also get a Criterion edition of Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner The Great Beauty, a non-Criterion edition of the moronic Walking with Dinosaurs, and a direct-to-DVD adaptation of Dean Koontz’ Odd Thomas starring Anton Yelchin and Willem Dafoe that has been getting pretty middling reviews across the board.
On Netflix Instant
Continuing the Best of 2013 trend is Mud, featuring Matthew McConaughey’s best performance from a pretty stellar year for him.  Joining it is 20 Feet from Stardom, meaning that all five Academy Award nominees for Best Documentary Feature are available via Netflix; the U.S. (read: Harvey Scissorhands) cut of Wong Kar Wai’s Ip Man biopic The GrandmasterThe Pool, a nice little India-set indie from the director of American Movie; the mediocre Firm-like Paranoia; and an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur starring Kate Bosworth, Josh Lucas, Henry Thomas, Radha Mitchell, and one of my favorite names, Balthazar Getty.

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