Saturday, December 6, 2014

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 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 Theatres

Life Partners (recommended): TV stars Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs star as best friends, one gay and one straight, who navigate through young adulthood together in this unexpectedly entertaining delight. Now playing at Quad Cinema. Read my review from Tribeca.

Miss Julie (mixed bag): Jessica Chastain and Colin Farell star in this realization of the famed 1888 play that probably is better suited for the stage. Chastain is always good but this is hardly the film to see her in this year. Now playing at Landmark Sunshine. Read my review from yesterday.

Red Knot (recommended): Vincent Kartheiser and Olivia Thirlby star as a married couple drifting apart on a boat to Antarctica, as Kartheiser’s author eats up the opportunity to visit his favorite subject and Thirlby’s wife finds herself considerably neglected. It’s captivating at times and anchored by a terrific Thirlby. Now playing at IFC Center. Read my review from Thursday.

Wild (highly recommended): Reese Witherspoon delivers her best performance in years at the center of this emotional drama about a woman who sets out on a 1000-mile hike to redeem herself. Witherspoon is the reason to see this strong and worthwhile film. Now playing at AMC Lincoln Square and Regal Union Square. Read my review from Thursday.

Zero Motivation (highly recommended): This Israeli film, which earned a handful of Ophir nominations, is an entertaining and enticing comedy about life in the Israeli army, with a special focus on a woman’s unit. Nelly Tagar and Dana Ivgy are particularly great. Now playing at Film Forum. Read my review from Tribeca.

New to DVD

The Congress (mixed bag): Director Ari Folman’s follow-up to “Waltz with Bashir” has echoes of its greatness, most evident in some of its more powerful moments and in its score, but ultimately it’s a messy and wild adventure that often feels more experimental than effective.

The Hundred-Foot Journey (recommended): Though it’s hardly serious, this lighthearted account of an Indian family that moves to France and opens up a restaurant right across from a popular local place is enjoyable if not too memorable. My review will be up soon.

Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

About Cherry (recommended): This drama about a young woman who moves to San Francisco and gives starring in pornography a try features a magnificent breakthrough lead performance from Ashley Hinshaw and a great supporting turn from Heather Graham. The film isn’t always as fast-paced or fascinating, but it has its moments.

Almost Famous (highly recommended): This music movie from director Cameron Crowe has such a great spirit of what it’s like to be on the road with a band, featuring a terrific cast with Kate Hudson giving her best performance as a lively groupie. This is one of the true greats.

American Beauty (highly recommended): This is, without question, my favorite film, an incredible display of talent all-around, with incomparable performances from Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Mena Suvari, Wes Bentley, and Chris Cooper, haunting cinematography, an unforgettable score and so much more.

Frequencies (highly recommended): This innovative dystopian dramedy imagines a world where success is based on perceived intelligence and follows low-ranking, kindhearted Zak in his years-long pursuit of attaining some level of compatibility with emotionless Marie. It’s an energetic and wholly enthralling tale.

The Grand Seduction (highly recommended): This enormously enjoyable film features the odd couple of Brendan Gleeson and Taylor Kitsch as a motivated resident of a wilting harbor and the doctor he tries to lure there to help it thrive again. It's a delight from start to finish.

Last Night (mixed bag): This moody drama from the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival selection features Keira Knightley and action star Sam Worthington as partners both contemplating affairs. It’s a slow-paced, directionless film that isn’t necessarily bad but also doesn’t evoke the proper emotion and empathy for the characters that it should.

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