Saturday, May 5, 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

Sad to say, after a productive week with four new films last Friday, I haven’t seen a single new release from this week. I really want to see The Avengers, and I hope to do soon sometime this coming week. That’s about it.

New to DVD

New Year’s Eve (mixed bag): I didn’t classify this one under “anti-recommended” merely because anyone who watches the trailer knows exactly what to expect. It’s not nearly as unbearable as it could have been, and a step up from “Valentine’s Day,” but that’s about it. Hardly the best romance blockbuster I’ve ever seen.

Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

Adaptation (highly recommended): This 2002 comedy about a screenwriter writing himself into his screenplay is exceptionally brilliant, featuring a superb dual performance from Nicolas Cage and a career-defining Oscar-winning performance from Chris Cooper

Analyze This (recommended): This amusing 1999 mob parody is clever and entertaining than to funny performances from Robert DeNiro as a gangster and Billy Crystal as his therapist..

Big Daddy (recommended): This Razzie award-winning film doesn’t get much credit, but it’s actually quite hilarious, and features Adam Sandler in the kind of role he was born to play, not trying too hard and not failing too miserably either.

Big Night (highly recommended): This food movie is delightfully appetizing and entertaining, featuring superb performances from Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci as Italian restaurant owners preparing for their biggest and most important night yet.

Cruel Intentions (mixed bag): This 1999 take on “Dangerous Liaisons” is so bad it’s good, with Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Selma Blair, and Reese Witherspoon starring in a campy tale of seduction and betrayal.

Griff the Invisible (highly recommended): This superhero film is the exact opposite of what “Super” was and does a marvelous job crafting a fun movie about a delusional man who thinks he’s a superhero. Ryan Kwanten from “True Blood” and Maeve Dermody turn in magnificently charming performances.

Hannibal (mixed bag): This sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs” has its hypnotic moments, and Anthony Hopkins is operating at full capacity, but it doesn’t manage to capture the feel and awesomeness of the first film or the subsequent prequel “Red Dragon.” Some would say that has to do with the absence of Jodie Foster, but the film has other problems.

Letters from Iwo Jima (recommended): This 2006 Best Picture nominee is the more somber of Clint Eastwood’s back-to-back productions about World War II, shot almost entirely in Japanese and featuring a powerhouse central performance from Ken Watanabe. It’s an effective, moving, and honest war film.

Meet Joe Black (recommended): This 1998 fantasy film presents Brad Pitt as a humanized version of Death, being led around the world by Anthony Hopkins. It’s a dramatic, slightly overlong (just around three hours), thought-provoking experience.

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.

My Best Friend’s Wedding (recommended): This 1997 romantic comedy classic is one of the definitive Julia Roberts movies, in which she pursues her best friend upon his engagement. Rupert Everett steals most of the spotlight as her gay other best friend, but the whole cast contributes to this endearing comedy.

Of Mice and Men (recommended): The 1992 adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel features strong performances from Gary Sinise and John Malkovich in a compelling retelling of a classic story.

Starship Troopers (anti-recommended): This film is almost so bad it’s good, but it’s really just bad. Fighting giant alien bugs makes for great fun, especially when the actors - Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, and others - are annoying, but this film is just hopeless in so many ways.

Trucker (recommended): This relatively unknown independent film is a strong showcase of star Michelle Monaghan as a truck driver who finds out she has a son, and includes great supporting performances from Nathan Fillion and Jimmy Bennett as her son.

What Doesn’t Kill You (anti-recommended): This rip-off of “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” is a mob movie that’s trying too hard, and focuses much more on trying to put on Boston accents than anything else.

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