Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe

Welcome 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 NYC 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

The Skin I Live In
(highly recommended): Acclaimed Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s latest film is also his most disturbing, and therefore this recommendation comes with a caveat: see it only – and especially – if unsettling content doesn’t bother you. Either way, it’s graceful, artistic, and enormously compelling. Now playing at Clearview Chelsea, Landmark Sunshine, AMC Empire, and Lincoln Plaza. Read my review from yesterday.

New to DVD

Beautiful Boy
(recommended): This hard-hitting drama is definitely not for everyone, much like last year’s “Rabbit Hole.” Strong performances from Michael Sheen and Maria Bello help to make it a powerful, occasionally uneven film that peaks at certain points.

Horrible Bosses (recommended): This comedy is even more hilarious than it looks in the trailers, thanks to spot-on performances from all of the cast members, both the protagonists and the bosses. Most impressively, it knows when not to go over the top and manages to stay consistent and funny the entire time.

Mr. Nice (recommended): This light-hearted drama is a caper film about a real-life drug smuggler who got away with a whole lot. Rhys Ifans is fun in the lead role, but mainly it’s just a great story that does get a little silly sometimes but ultimately entertains.

Terri (highly recommended): This “teacher movie” about a vice principal that takes an active interest in one of his students avoids being forgettable and instead, thanks mostly to a great performance by John C. Reilly, manages to be heartfelt and highly enjoyable.

The Tree of Life (mixed bag): This film is such a complicated mess that it’s hard to process. It’s way too art house for such a simple premise, yet there are definitely alluring and captivating parts that make it soar. Overall, you’ll need to be very patient to actually enjoy it and think it’s a terrific film.

Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

Casino Jack (mixed bag): This dramatization of Jack Abramoff’s downfall isn’t nearly as good or informative as the documentary also released last year, but it is quite entertaining, featuring an energized performance from Kevin Spacey and some juicy plotlines.

Happiness Runs (anti-recommended): This drama about a utopian community and its newest generation goes all kinds of wrong, focusing on boring, poorly defined characters and prone to derailment by mind-altering substances even after the plot has already taken a turn for the uninteresting.

Happy-Go-Lucky (highly recommended): I’m an enormous proponent of this very pleasant and wonderful Mike Leigh film featuring one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, from actress Sally Hawkins, as well as a hilarious supporting turn from the dependable Eddie Marsan.

Peter and Vandy (mixed bag): This romance drama chronicles the trials and tribulations of one particular relationship in no particular order, and it’s an uncreative experiment that produces nothing more than confusing, unfulfilling results about people that might otherwise be interesting.

Toe to Toe (mixed bag): This “two girls from different sides of the track” story is hardly original, and the only fresh thing about it is two new faces to watch, Louisa Krause and Sonequa Martin. Otherwise, this tale has been told better elsewhere.

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