Saturday, April 6, 2013

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

Nothing of note this week! Exciting releases in the weeks to come.

New to DVD

The Hobbit (anti-recommended): I thought that the third “Lord of the Rings” film was highly overrated, but it’s spectacular compared to this highly disappointing and overly comical adaptation of the first third of the prequel to that series. The effects may be good, but the magic just isn’t there, and the idea of having to suffer through two more films is just miserable.

Les Miserables (recommended): Anne Hathaway won a deserved Oscar for her passionate performance, in this cinematic adaptation of a classic musical that shines in its emotional-filled solo numbers by Hathaway and Samantha Barks and in its larger ensemble spectacles. It’s not an entirely even film, but it’s absolutely worth a look and a listen.

Lincoln (mixed bag): I’m one of the few that wasn’t in love with this film, finding it engaging only in parts and hardly a complete portrait of one of the most fascinating presidents. Daniel Day-Lewis’ Oscar-winning performance is a skilled imitation much like Helen Mirren’s Queen Elizabeth, but it’s Tommy Lee Jones’ supporting turn as a diehard abolitionist that truly stands out.

Price Check (anti-recommended): This comedy starring Parker Posey and Eric Mabius doesn’t have much going for it, featuring unexceptional characters and a generally uninteresting plotline.

Rust and Bone (recommended): This French entry is a depressing, occasionally strong film about a woman who suffers a horrific accident and the man who helps her to survive it. Marion Cotillard was robbed of an Oscar nomination for her performance, which is the best reason to see this decent film.

Zero Dark Thirty (highly recommended): My seventh favorite film of the year comes from Kathryn Bigelow, who deserved an Oscar nomination even more than fellow snubbee Ben Affleck, and tells the extraordinarily complex story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Jessica Chastain is excellent in the lead role, and this is one masterfully-made film not to be missed.

Now Available on Netflix Instant Streaming

Braveheart (recommended): This 1995 Best Picture winner might be considered the last good film that Mel Gibson made, and while it’s hardly better than a few entries that year, like “The Usual Suspects,” “Apollo 13,” and “Toy Story,” it’s a definitive epic that features some unforgettable and spectacular battle scenes.

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.

Heleno (recommended): This black-and-white chronicle of famed temperamental Brazilian footballer Heleno de Freitas is a compelling, melancholy tale of a man undone by his ego. Rodrigo Santoro delivers a strong lead performance as the title character.

Pi (recommended): Darren Aronofosky earned an Oscar nomination for “Black Swan” in 2010, but this black-and-white 1998 feature is just as interesting, far more experimental and less tethered to reality. Using numbers, science, and religion, this films is a deeply thought-provoking and odd entry that merits a viewing for film enthusiasts.

Rain Man (highly recommended): This 1988 Best Picture winner features Dustin Hoffman, who also took home an Oscar, as a savant on a road trip with his brother, played by Tom Cruise. There’s such a wonderful originality and energy to their interactions that makes this Oscar winner wholly worthwhile and a must-see.

Witness (recommended): This 1985 Best Picture nominee features Harrison Ford’s only Oscar-nominated performance, as a cop trying to protect an Amish boy after he witnesses a crime. It’s a strong, interesting look at a different culture, and one of Ford’s most tempered and intriguing screen turns.

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