Saturday, January 3, 2015

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

American Sniper (recommended): Bradley Cooper successfully plays against type as a red-blooded Texan who enlists in the military to become a sniper and has predictable trouble in his home life after being abroad. Clint Eastwood’s latest film is powerful though hardly revolutionary. Now playing at AMC Lincoln Square and Regal Union Square. Read my review from Monday.

Annie (mixed bag): This modern-day update of the Depression-era musical is definitely a fresh take that’s not nearly as bad as most people think. Quvenzhané Wallis is charming as Annie and effectively a spirited if uneven production. Those who like the show will likely enjoy this more than they expect. Now playing in wide release. Read my review from Thursday.

Big Eyes (mixed bag): Tim Burton directs this strange tale of a female painter in the 1950s whose husband took credit for all her work. Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz aren’t challenged all that much, and this film manages to be even more peculiar than its story dictates to mixed effect. Now playing in wide release. Read my review from Tuesday.

Into the Woods (recommended): Another major movie musical is this production of a cacophony of fairy tales mixed together. Emily Blunt stands out among a relatively talented cast in an epic adaptation that isn’t extraordinary but is still fun. Now playing in wide release. Read my review from yesterday.

Leviathan (recommended): Russia’s official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Film, which is nominated at the Golden Globes, is a bleak, depressing film about largely unlikeable people. Yet its storytelling is blunt and effective, and its lengthy runtime makes its universe difficult to escape. Now playing at Lincoln Plaza and Film Forum. Read my review from Thursday.

A Most Violent Year (highly recommended): Oscar Isaac is excellent in J.C. Chandor’s marvelous and entrancing portrait of 1980s New York City and one businessman’s struggle to overcome unknown threats and come out on top. All elements work together to make this a terrific film, and it’s a shame that an expectedly good Jessica Chastain seems to be the only one getting any credit. Now playing at AMC Lincoln Square and Landmark Sunshine. Read my review from Monday.

Selma (recommended): This stirring civil rights film about one very important part of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s fight for equality in the South in the 1960s comes at a very crucial time in American society. The film is good, to be sure, though it’s likely to be inflated by its current relevance. Now playing at AMC Lincoln Square and AMC Empire. Read my review from Wednesday.

Unbroken (recommended): Angelina Jolie’s second time behind the camera isn’t as dark or haunting as her first, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” but it’s still an engaging and emotional journey with a strong performance by Jack O’Connell holding it all down. Now playing in wide release. Read my review from yesterday.

New to DVD

Pride (highly recommended): This heartwarming film, which earned a great Golden Globe mention for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, is a charming and entertaining look at a group of gay and lesbian activists in the 1980s who decided to offer their support to another cause of the time in the U.K. – striking miners.

Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

Get Low (recommended): I’ll admit that I don’t remember much about this 2010 film that almost earned Robert Duvall his latest Oscar nomination (he might get that this year) besides the fact that I had a really cool opportunity to interview Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, and Lucas Black about it. My review tells me that the performances and a strange story balanced out to a pretty decent film.

Taking Lives (anti-recommended): I remember being so excited about this serial killer movie which came out when Kiefer Sutherland was very big on “24,” and it was an enormous disappointment, to say the least. With “Unbroken” and “Boyhood” boosting their careers right now, Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke are probably wishing that people didn’t remember this movie.

Winter in the Blood (recommended): This eccentric Native American story straddles the line between reality and imagination as its main character searches for tranquility and satisfaction with the help of scene stealer David Morse’s memorable Airplane Man.

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