Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. I'm going to be providing a handy guide to a few choice movies currently playing in theatres as well as several films newly released on DVD. I’ll also aim to comment on those films I have not yet had the chance to see, and I invite you to add in your thoughts on any films I haven’t seen in the comments below. Understandably, some weeks will have considerably fewer releases to address than others.


Now Playing in NYC

A Most Wanted Man (mixed bag): The late Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as the head of a counterterrorism team in Germany in one of his final roles, and while this thriller from director Anton Corbjin has its moments, as a whole it’s not as compelling as it should be. Now playing in limited release. Read my review from Sundance.


New to DVD

Dom Hemingway (mixed bag): Jude Law is loud and unapologetic as a criminal released from jail who isn’t keen on keeping up appearances because he feels he’s owed. There are intriguing, involving scenes in this otherwise messy film.


Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

Manhunter (mixed bag): There’s no comparing this film to its remake, “Red Dragon,” or Brian Cox’s performance as Hannibal Lecter to Anthony Hopkins’, but William Petersen’s focused part as a committed cop and Tom Noonan’s chilling turn as a violent killer effectively complement each other in this slow, dark thriller.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday’s Top Trailer: The Imitation Game

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Tuesday's Top Trailer. One of my favorite parts about going to see movies is the series of trailers that airs beforehand and, more often than not, the trailer is far better than the actual film. Each week, I'll be sharing a trailer I've recently seen. Please chime in with comments on what you think of the trailer and how you think the movie is going to be.

The Imitation Game – Opening November 21, 2014


There’s a certain genre of historical drama that manages to simultaneously serve as a thriller, unveiling its events over the course of a given time span and really getting to know its characters and their mindsets. World War II is always a strong setting for such a story, and the concept of cracking a code that could help tip the scales in the war is definitely appealing. And then there’s the cast – a big part of any period epic, particularly a British one. Benedict Cumberbatch, who had a banner year in 2013 with a handful of very different performances, is the perfect person to play Alan Turing, the mathematician tasked with deciphering and breaking the code. He’s reunited with his costar from a film that seems to have a similar feel, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” the fantastic Mark Strong. Matthew Goode is another thespian who is well-suited to join their ranks, and Charles Dance, best known as Tywin Lannister on “Game of Thrones,” is also in the supporting cast. Helping to break up the testosterone is Keira Knightley, who sometimes opts for dramatic fare like this, excellent in “Atonement” a few years ago. What might be most notable about this film otherwise is that it’s the feature follow-up to Norwegian director Morten Hyldum’s terrific “Headhunters.” That was a superbly paced, artful dramatic thriller, and I think that this subject should prove to be more than fitting for another enthralling and fully enjoyable cinematic experience with talented actors and a great premise.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. I'm going to be providing a handy guide to a few choice movies currently playing in theatres as well as several films newly released on DVD. I’ll also aim to comment on those films I have not yet had the chance to see, and I invite you to add in your thoughts on any films I haven’t seen in the comments below. Understandably, some weeks will have considerably fewer releases to address than others.


Now Playing in NYC

Wish I Was Here (recommended): Zach Braff’s second directorial effort is no “Garden State,” but it does have plenty to say about parenthood, Judaism, and other things. The cast is fun and the film is flighty but enjoyable. Now playing at AMC Lincoln Square, AMC Kips Bay, and Regal Union Square. Read my review from Sundance.


New to DVD

The Face of Love (mixed bag): This love story casts Ed Harris as a dead ringer for Annette Bening’s late husband who becomes a romantic interest for the grieving widow. It’s a perfectly average romance that unfortunately isn’t enhanced by its usually great actors.


Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

The Master (recommended): Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film received Oscar nominations for its major cast members, but also deserves credit for painting an intoxicating and gripping portrait of a man detached from society seeking a way to reconnect and drawn in by the allure of a cult. It’s a visually stunning film featuring all-around great performances.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday’s Top Trailer: Wild

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Tuesday's Top Trailer. One of my favorite parts about going to see movies is the series of trailers that airs beforehand and, more often than not, the trailer is far better than the actual film. Each week, I'll be sharing a trailer I've recently seen. Please chime in with comments on what you think of the trailer and how you think the movie is going to be.

Wild – Opening December 5, 2014


This buzzed-about trailer popped up on IMDB, and I figured it was definitely worth a watch. It’s most notable for many as director Jean-Marc Vallée’s follow-up to “Dallas Buyers Club,” but for me that’s less enticing since I found that film to be highly overrated. That said, it wasn’t so bad, and Vallée did manage to draw out two compelling Oscar-winning performances from actors whose work isn’t always superb. What’s most worthwhile about this, however, is Reese Witherspoon’s comeback. I’ve liked Witherspoon ever since “Legally Blonde,” where she fully embraced the comic potential of her character without selling her short. I think she very much deserved her Oscar for “Walk the Line” though many disagree, and I think she should have earned more recognition for her supporting turn in “Mud.” Now, she has the opportunity to fully own a film. While these kinds of movies can be isolating, there are plenty of success stories like “Into the Wild” and “127 Hours” where a truly magnetic lead performance commands an above-average solo journey. As long as it’s more gripping and engaging than “The Way,” which starred Martin Sheen as a man walking a long trail in memory of his late son, I think this should work well. It certainly seems like there’s plenty of meat in the backstory of Witherspoon’s Cheryl Strayed, and the supporting cast is populated by the likes of Thomas Sadoski, Gaby Hoffmann, Laura Dern, Michiel Huisman, and Brian Holt, an eclectic list sure to enhance a competent and stirring introspective drama.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. I'm going to be providing a handy guide to a few choice movies currently playing in theatres as well as several films newly released on DVD. I’ll also aim to comment on those films I have not yet had the chance to see, and I invite you to add in your thoughts on any films I haven’t seen in the comments below. Understandably, some weeks will have considerably fewer releases to address than others.


Now Playing in NYC

Land Ho! (highly recommended): My favorite film from Sundance is truly a must-see. It’s an unassuming and wholly likeable comedy with terrific performances from the inimitable Earl Lynn Nelson and the dependable Paul Eenhorn. Now playing at Lincoln Plaza and the Angelika. Read my review from Sundance.


New to DVD

Le Week-End (recommended): Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan star in this entertaining film about a couple celebrating their thirtieth anniversary with a weekend trip to Paris. Both performers are great, and the story around them is solidly interesting if occasionally uncomfortable.


Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

Alan Partridge (mixed bag): Steve Coogan is the main reason to see this bizarre story of an eccentric radio host who ends up as a go between the police and a fired radio host who takes the station hostage. The tone is inconsistent, but the film has its moments.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. I'm going to be providing a handy guide to a few choice movies currently playing in theatres as well as several films newly released on DVD. I’ll also aim to comment on those films I have not yet had the chance to see, and I invite you to add in your thoughts on any films I haven’t seen in the comments below. Understandably, some weeks will have considerably fewer releases to address than others.


Now Playing in NYC

Life Itself (highly recommended): This documentary seemed worthwhile enough to me to rank as the fifth film of my second-ever quintuple feature, and fortunately, it delivered. This retrospective of Roger Ebert’s life and his enthusiasm for movies is a resounding and entertaining endorsement of the whole concept of cinema. Now playing at Landmark Sunshine and Film Society Lincoln Center. Read my review from Sundance.

New to DVD

Nothing of note this week!


Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

The Believer (recommended): This carefully crafted and unsettling film is a powerful look at intense self-hatred as manifested by a neo-Nazi Jew. Ryan Gosling discovers a masterful and disturbing lead performance in this hard-hitting and worthwhile film.

City of God (highly recommended): This film, which my brother might still name as his all-time favorite movie, was a surprise Oscar nominee in a few major categories back in 2003. This is a visually incredible and emotionally involving example of Brazilian filmmaking from director Fernando Meirelles.

The Manchurian Candidate (recommended): This is a solid thriller that I remember wishing had been better, even though it was still a decent of the 1962 Oscar-nominated film about a brainwashed soldier. Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, and a hammy Meryl Streep contribute appropriately serious performances.

Perfect Sense (recommended): This romance takes place in the near future, when a chef and a scientist fall in love while humanity is losing their senses, starting with smell, one at a time. It’s a bleak but engaging film with strong performances and a great score, very well-conceived in terms of its execution.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tuesday’s Top Trailer: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Tuesday's Top Trailer. One of my favorite parts about going to see movies is the series of trailers that airs beforehand and, more often than not, the trailer is far better than the actual film. Each week, I'll be sharing a trailer I've recently seen. Please chime in with comments on what you think of the trailer and how you think the movie is going to be.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby – Opening September 26, 2014 and beyond


This is a film that looks as intriguing for its content as it does its format. Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy starring as a couple during the ups and downs of their romance is appealing enough on its own. But the way in which this film is being released is about as intriguing. There are three separate versions: Them, Him, and Her, each representing different points of view of the relationship. What that ends up meaning for the film and its angles isn’t entirely clear, but the concept is definitely alluring. Chastain catapulted to stardom with six breakout roles in 2011 – I saw five and was extremely impressed with two of them and appropriately pleased with the others – and is now a two-time Oscar nominee with enormous talent just waiting to be tapped. McAvoy, on the other hand, first wowed me in 2006 and 2007 with “The Last King of Scotland” and “Starter for 10,” and despite few awards, has had similar success. Viola Davis, Bill Hader, Ciarin Hinds, Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, Archie Panjabi, and Jess Weixler are all in the supporting cast, which is definitely a plus. I definitely want to see these films, and to see how all these players factor in to each version. I’m hoping that the distributors arrange a day of screenings where all three can be shown back to back, because this is a treasure I’m not sure will ever have the opportunity to be digested in the proper manner by most audiences.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. I'm going to be providing a handy guide to a few choice movies currently playing in theatres as well as several films newly released on DVD. I’ll also aim to comment on those films I have not yet had the chance to see, and I invite you to add in your thoughts on any films I haven’t seen in the comments below. Understandably, some weeks will have considerably fewer releases to address than others.


Now Playing in NYC

Whitey: The United States of America vs. James J. Bulger (recommended): This documentary about Whitey Bulger, the notorious mobster who faced trial last year for his many crimes after spending almost two decades in hiding, is full of facts and strong arguments, and proves interesting even if it doesn’t truly unmask the man himself. Now playing at the IFC Center. Read my review from yesterday.

Siddarth (recommended): This drama, which I screened as part of the South Asian International Film Festival back in December, is a stirring and emotional story about a man who goes to great lengths and personal sacrifices to track down his missing son in India. Now playing at Lincoln Plaza. Read my capsule review.


New to DVD

Enemy (recommended): Jake Gyllenhaal does impressive double duty as a man who sees someone who looks just like him in a movie and becomes obsessed with finding him. The film has a great suspenseful feel throughout, and it’s a captivating story that’s easy to get into and hard to shake.


Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

Hava Nagila: The Movie (mixed bag): This light documentary about the classic Jewish song might have been endearing if it had bothered to take its subject matter seriously. Instead, it only occasionally gets interesting because it considers its topic to be a big joke.