Saturday, October 6, 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 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

I’m mildly interested in both Frakenweenie and Taken 2, two very different films, and less so in Pitch Perfect.

New to DVD

Grassroots (recommended): Jason Biggs and Joel David Moore star in director Stephen Gyllenhaal’s entertaining adaptation of a true story about a eccentric Seattle politician. It’s a light-hearted and affecting political story that elicits great serious performances from its comic actors.

People Like Us (recommended): This drama elicits fantastic turns from Chris Pine, who played Kirk in “Star Trek,” and Elizabeth Banks, most familiar from “30 Rock” and “Scrubs,” as siblings unaware of each other’s existence who build a rapport after the death of their father. It’s a simply story enhanced by strong storytelling.

Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

Code 46 (recommended): This dreamlike 2004 drama was one of the first films I saw at a press screening. It’s an intriguing if not entirely fulfilling dystopian portrait with strong performances from Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton.

Coriolanus (mixed bag): Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut is full of Shakespearean dialogue but modern-day imagery and clothing. For Shakespeare devotees, it should be an interesting exercise, but for those less inclined, it’s incomplete and relatively unsatisfying, even if Fiennes is trying his hardest.

Darfur Now (mixed bag): This documentary from 2007 features Don Cheadle campaigning for an end to genocide in Darfur with a handful of personal accounts. It’s less effective as a historical nonfiction film than it is as a call to action.

A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy (recommended): This wild comedy stars Jason Sudeikis, Tyler Labine, and a whole slew of other people. Like this year’s “Our Idiot Brother,” it’s not as hilarious as it could have been, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a lot of fun and highly enjoyable.

Goodbye First Love (recommended): This French romance, released last week on DVD, from director Mia Hansen-Love (“The Father of My Children”) features a strong central performance from Lola Créton, and a realistic and thought-provoking commentary on love and relationships. It may not be the best relationship film ever made, but it’s certainly a worthwhile one.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (highly recommended): This 1962 classic is one of the defining Western films from John Ford, featuring wonderfully entertaining performances from John Wayne and James Stewart as unexpected allies in the fight against local bad guys. A must-see for any serious film fan – it was shown in multiple film history courses I took in college.

Mulholland Drive (recommended with reservations): This 2001 mind-bending drama from David Lynch is an amazingly intriguing but equally confusing exploration of a wildly creative man’s mind, with an absolutely exceptional lead performance from Naomi Watts and a marvelously haunting score from Angelo Badalamenti.

Rain Man (highly recommended): This 1988 Best Picture winner from director Barry Levinson is a delightfully charming story of the unlikely bonding between two extremely different brothers, one of whom is played to perfection by Dustin Hoffman in an Oscar-winning role.

A Very Long Engagement (highly recommended): It’s hard not to adore this gorgeous tale of love and war, the second collaboration between director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and actress Audrey Tautou after “Amelie,” also featuring a magnificent score from Angelo Badalementi and some terrific cinematography and colors.

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