Like most years it hasn’t been a good one for that perennially endangered cinematic species, the musical. While the genre won’t exactly be brought back to all-singin’, all-dancin’ life by Pussycat Dolls impresario Steven Antin’s curiously enjoyable diva mashup, it does present the spectacle of Cher smashing in the car window of a catty dancer with a tire iron – never a bad thing, in our estimation…
Burlesque opens tomorrow. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.
The King’s Speech
The King’s Speech
If you prefer your films about the British royalty to be chipper and full of pluck and tender moments (those stiff upper lips do quiver so rarely but expressively), then this heart-warming effort from Tom Hooper is certainly for you. An Anglophilic dream of a piece, it fits in with a somewhat disquieting trend in modern film where American audiences of the tasteful variety flock to touching stories about the pained inner lives of the pampered aristocracy. Sure, they’re richer than Croesus and have whole battalions of servants and lackeys at their disposal, but deep down, these creatures of comfort suffer. It’s almost as though the revolution never happened…
The King’s Speech opens tomorrow. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.
Made in Dagenham
The period tunes plinking out of radios or layered behind montages in Nigel Cole’s Made in Dagenham are all perfectly appropriate for its time. Small Faces, Traffic, and Desmond Dekker summon up a time and mood, but as this overly winsome film goes on, they feel more and more like a crutch for a movie that can’t quite face up to its deadly serious topic. Though he has vegetables on his menu, Cole tries time and again to serve up dessert first, in the form of perky tunes, self-consciously retro costumes (beehives and hot pants), and light humor, distractions from a story that doesn’t need the help…
Made in Dagenham opens today. You can read the full review at PopMatters.
William S. Burroughs: A Man Within
A true revolutionary isn’t universally loved; there should be plenty of hate to go around. Otherwise, how authentic could the rebellion have been? In Yony Leyser’s sketchy, worshipful portrait, William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, there are plenty of words tossed around about how outside the boundaries Burroughs (seen here with Patti Smith) operated – but these all come from people who either idolized or befriended him. Considering that Burroughs penned Naked Lunch, one of the most viciously repellent satirical novels in Western literature, such a friendly, speak-no-ill attitude feels off…
William S. Burroughs: A Man Within is playing now in limited release. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.
New on DVD:
A girl only 17-years of age shouldn’t have to do these sort of things, and yet Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence, with a face that still blooms with youth but eyes as hard as history) takes to her unasked-for responsibilities with a brand of stoic resignation that comes only from bred-in-the-bone poverty. One look at the stunted Ozarks hills (so wistfully referred to in Missouri at times as “mountains”) and tumbledown shacks where Debra Granik filmed Winter’s Bone, and it’s clear exactly how far afield Ree’s expectations can afford to roam. The trees are as bare as the trash cars that litter the landscape, their branches like prison bars – Ree is just doing her time…
Winter’s Bone is now available on DVD. You can read the full review at PopMatters.
Besides dyed-red corn syrup and a soundtrack of gotcha scare-notes, there is one thing that any monster or horror flick needs in abundance: stupid protagonists. If someone just ran for help instead of walking slowly into the darkness while nervously quavering, “Who’s there?” then there just wouldn’t be that much of a film. This, we understand. But every now and again, a film comes along whose story hinges so much on idiotic decisions that any other engaging elements recede into the misty background. Gareth Edwards’s horrifically unsteady – but nevertheless curiously promising – Monsters is just one such film…
Monsters is now playing in limited release. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.