Saturday, April 7, 2012

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

Damsels in Distress (recommended): This witty Whit Stillman comedy is a curious and individualistic take on love, life, and depression, featuring a strong female cast led by Greta Gerwig in her first big lead role. It’s odd at times, but overall engaging and endearing. Now playing at Landmark Sunshine and Lincoln Plaza. Read my review from yesterday.

The Assault (recommended): This dramatization of the 1994 hijacking of an Air France flight is, like “United 93,” a literal story-to-screen adaptation that doesn’t feature much filmic creativity, which is fine and makes for a powerful and relatively captivating experience. Now playing at Village East Cinemas. My capsule review will be up tomorrow.

New to DVD

War Horse (recommended): This Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation of the acclaimed play isn’t initially interesting but does manage to become more appealing as new characters are introduced and its equestrian protagonist is revealed to be increasingly brave. The visuals are its strongest element.

Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

Arthur (highly recommended): I didn’t see the new film with Russell Brand, but who needs a remake when you have this charming and terrific original starring Dudley Moore and Oscar winner John Gielgud and the classic theme by Christopher Cross.

Bonnie and Clyde (highly recommended): This 1967 Best Picture nominee is the ultimate crime movie, featuring exceptional performances by Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and crew. It may be historically significant, but it still stands up as a stellar cinematic achievement.

Burma VJ (recommended): This Oscar-nominated 2009 documentary is a stark, disturbing, eye-opening portrait of political oppression in Myanmar, showcasing the heroic and brave efforts of a few journalists determined to get the truth out to the world.

Chariots of Fire (recommended): This 1981 Best Picture winner gets a lot of flak for being over-the-top and corny, especially with its token score, but it’s actually a decently inspiring and entertaining film that deserves a second – or first – look.

Miral (anti-recommended): This film from director Julian Schnabel (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”) caused a stir for its political content and its highly publicized premiere at the UN. Related criticisms are valid, but this film is plagued by plenty of other problems, including a dull story and poor characters.

Puncture (mixed bag): This dramatization of a drug-addicted lawyer who tries to get safety needles into hospitals around the world has a definitive aim which it doesn’t quite achieve. It’s occasionally stirring and affecting, but more often than not, far less interesting and invigorating than it wants to be.

Rango (mixed bag): I can’t comprehend why people liked this film, and how it managed to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It’s a western parody that isn’t quite right for either kids or adults, and therefore it’s entirely ineffective and simply peculiar rather than at all fulfilling.

Rebirth (recommended): This documentary chronicles the lives of five different people who lost family members on September 11th, 2001, and it serves as a generally effective and powerful reminder of how fateful and important specific dates can be.

Submarine (highly recommended): This delightful, whimsical film is a terrific comedy about an outcast telling his own story via voiceover. It has tremendously well-developed and rich characters, and a superb cast led by Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige. The film looks great, and it’s highly enjoyable to boot.

Tell No One (highly recommended): This exceptional 2008 French film is an action-packed thriller that takes the everyman-in-peril trope to new heights, as it follows a doctor on the run after discovering that his wife may still be alive and plenty of people are trying to kill him. A film not to be missed!

A Very Long Engagement (highly recommended): This lovely French film was Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s follow-up to “Amelie,” once again starring Audrey Tautou is this abundantly romantic and gorgeous film, featuring exceptional cinematography, art direction, and music.

We Don’t Live Here Anymore (recommended): This relationship drama was released around the same time as Mike Nicols’ “Closer,” and as a result, it didn’t get much attention. It’s the stronger of the two, however, featuring powerful and intense performances from Laura Dern, Peter Krause, Mark Ruffalo, and Naomi Watts as couples tangled up together in a web of lies and cheating.

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