Saturday, March 21, 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

The Gunman (anti-recommended): This film may feel a lot like “Taken,” and while the two share a director, this mindless action blockbuster doesn’t have nearly the brains of that already questionable prototype. Sean Penn is at his least enthusiastic in this truly absurd flick. Now playing in wide release. Read my review from Thursday.

La Sapienza (recommended): I enjoyed this intellectual film about art and those who appreciate it when I saw it at the New York Film Festival this past fall. Its use of multiple languages and entertaining characters is enjoyable, and overall it’s a great ride. Now playing at Lincoln Plaza. Read my review from NYFF.

She’s Lost Control (recommended): Brooke Bloom is a true breakout as a sex surrogate in this intimate and affecting drama that serves as a reliable and involving independent film. Read my review from yesterday.

New to DVD

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.

Low Down (mixed bag): Elle Fanning and John Hawkes are both great actors capable of playing a variety of characters, but this somber story of a drug-addicted musician and his daughter in the 1970s is hardly the best setting for their talents.

Penguins of Madagascar (mixed bag): This animated film, which I saw as the family choice movie for Thanksgiving, is relatively enjoyable and funny, but it doesn’t capture the same universal spirit that many animated films these days do.

Song of the Sea (highly recommended): Director Tomm Moore’s follow-up to “The Secret of Kells” and one of this past year’s Best Animated Feature Oscar nominees is a typical Irish film that creatively uses animation to tell a folk tale in the most enthralling and visually appealing manner.

Now on Netflix Instant Streaming

Force Majeure (mixed bag): Everyone I’ve spoken to loved this Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Film from Sweden, but I couldn’t see what was so great about it (story of the year with a few of the contenders). Setting a family story in a quiet French ski resort helps this film build its plot in an unsuspecting way, but its uncertain genre and uncomfortable conversations aren’t quite as impactful or entertaining as they’re supposed to be.

May in the Summer (recommended): This was the very first film I saw at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2013. Cherien Dabis impresses as writer, director, producer, and star of this entertaining and involving story about a Jordanian-American bride struggling culturally and personally to plan her wedding in her home country.

W (mixed bag): This 2008 parody of the Bush administration from Oliver Stone is an odd specimen, one that is neither funny nor truly scathing. It’s entertaining at times and might be worth another look now that Bush is out of office.

The Way He Looks (recommended): Brazil’s submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar is an engaging story about a blind teenager and his two friends, one old and one new, who help him see the world through their kindness, something not bestowed upon him by others. It’s a surprisingly mature and memorable film. Also available on DVD.

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