Put a staggering accomplishment called The Impossible, from Spanish director J. A. Bayona, at the top of the season’s must-see list. This intense nerve-shredder about a vacationing family separated in the violent and unexpected Indian Ocean tsunami that struck the southeast coast of Asia on Dec. 26, 2004, is the most wrenching disaster movie in Read More
When it was unveiled last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a loopy satire about England’s efforts to bring salmon fishing to the Middle East for political reasons, got initial reviews that used words like broad, uneven, undemanding, syrupy and contrived. As comedy sinks lower by the day, this charming little film by polished director Lasse Hallström looks better all the time. Mr. Hallström may have suffered an unjust setback in popularity recently, but the veteran director of such diverse accomplishments as What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules and Chocolat has lost none of his wit, visual artistry or skill at moving a story along with grace, constantly surprising the viewer with unexpected narrative choices.
You sense an instant prognosis of pretentiousness with the opening words of soundtrack narration in a horror called Perfect Sense: “There is darkness. And there is light. There are men and there are women. There is fruit. There are restaurants. Disease. There is work. Traffic.” And there is Ewan McGregor, who makes entirely too many movies and only occasionally makes an effort to speak the kind of English anyone can understand.
Just what we need — another violent comic-book fantasy about another covert government operative (a catch-phrase that describes just about everybody in escapist-action franchise movies from incoherent Tom Cruise Mission Impossible flicks to Jason Bourne cinematic Xeroxes with Matt Damon). This one is called Haywire. The only difference is that this time the battering ram doing all the kickboxing, slicing and killing is a woman, more or less played, since she cannot act, by kung fu expert, karate specialist, martial arts star and Angelina Jolie wannabe Gina Carano. She’s a female boxer who was defeated in 2009 by Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos in the Strikeforce Women’s Championship, whatever that is. The men she beats the crap out of are an all-star bevy of camera-ready hunks baring their pecs in faceless roles to sell tickets. They are wasting their time, but, boy, do we need them. It is doubtful that the box-office flame exuded by Ms. Carano on her own could draw moths.
Haywire makes no sense whatsoever, which should come as no surprise. It’s the latest brainless exercise in self-indulgence from Steven Soderbergh, whose films rarely make any sense anyway.
tonight in dvr
We’re here to tell you just how to set your DVR before heading out for drinks or dinner–or just watching something better on TV!
The Ghost Writer: This 2010 political thriller got a bit buried by a crummy release date, and by an audience newly aware of Roman Polanski from international-crime news, not the Hollywood Read More
Now A Major Motion Picture
HBO already announced that Dianne Wiest and Chris Cooper will be playing the parents in HBO’s forthcoming adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s novel The Corrections. Now director Noah Baumbach has named Ewan McGregor to play their son Chip, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
I Love You, Phillip Morris is an unbelievable-but-true black comedy about scams, lies and true love that proves gay-themed Hollywood sagas don’t all have to end in suicide, although this one does end in prison. Jim Carrey plays fearless, freewheeling Steven Russell, who is currently serving the ninth year of a 144-year sentence as a Read More
Good news, cinephiles: a couple of Mount Rushmore-ready directors open films today. Even better news: only one of them brings a scandalous criminal record to theaters as well! (Hint: his name rhymes with Poman Rolanski.) As we do every Friday, here’s a handy guide to the new releases.
What’s the story: If it Read More
The Ghost Writer
Running time 128 minutes
Written by Robert Harris and Roman Polanski
Directed by Roman Polanski
Starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia William
Can one put aside all the turmoil and controversy swirling around Roman Polanski while watching his latest film The Ghost Writer? Not very easily: The 76-year-old Read More
The Men Who Stare at Goats
Running time 93 minutes
Written by Peter Straughan
Directed by Grant Heslov
Starring George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges
The Men Who Stare at Goats, the latest George Clooney fiasco, is like getting stung by a wasp on the inside of your eyelid. You Read More