January 29, 2014

The Reel Deal

Reel Deal

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New To Theaters

Gimme Shelter (PG-13) Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) gets a starring vehicle - unfortunately, it's a Ford Edsel. Supposedly based on a true story about a pregnant teenager living on the streets, it is cliché-driven, heavy handed, and hard to sit through. Some veteran actors, specifically James Earl Jones and Brendan Fraser, sleepwalk through their roles. It's a clunker.

Coming Soon

The Monument Men (PG-13) Assorted museum curators and other assorted nerds are sent behind Nazi lines to rescue precious works of art in this film, supposedly based on a true story. George Clooney penned the screenplay, directs and stars, and he has attracted a first rate cast including Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and Jean Dujardin. Originally pegged as an Oscar contender, the film's release date was pushed back. There have been few screenings, meaning most critics haven't seen it yet. That's usually a bad sign. Still, Clooney has a history of delivering, so we'll all know soon enough – Monument Men opens next week.

New On DVD

Blue Jasmine * Woody Allen mines the effects a Madoff-like individual (Alec Baldwin) has on his family and friends when the scam is uncovered. The film centers on the ruined wife, Cate Blanchett, who spirals into a world of alcohol and medication in an attempt to survive. Blanchett turns in a world-class performance that has already garnered her numerous accolades and awards. Sally Hawkins, playing her half-sister from the wrong side of the tracks, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Comedians Lewis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay are surprisingly good. Allen is nominated for Best Screenplay. This is a troubling but profound film, but it doesn't measure up to Allen's recent masterpiece, Midnight In Paris, because the sheer exuberance in that film is replaced by the grim reality that pervades this effort.

Now Playing

G.B.F.( R ) Three high school girls vie for attention by courting a gay boy to be their best friend (that would be the G.B.F.). Really. Add a star if you are a brain dead kid who might actually relate to the characters.

I, Frankenstein (R) Yes, we really need another Frankenstein movie. This one is set in the near future wherein gargoyles and other assorted characters roam around searching for immortality. It's so ridiculous it's almost enjoyable – but not quite.

Freezer (NR) Then of course, there are those screenplays that in an attempt to be original are so completely off the wall we wonder how could any studio even considers making them into a movie: Exhibit A: Freezer, where-in a NYC mechanic goes to a party, gets knocked out, and wakes up in the restaurant's walk-in freezer. Dylan McDermott plays the cop as if he was frozen during the filming. Once they bring in the Russian mob and the stolen $8 million it goes from bad to worse. Viewers will likely head out to thaw within a half hour or so.

Devil's Due (R) You've seen this type of movie before, most noticeably Rosemary's Baby. A couple have wild sex on their honeymoon and the bride becomes pregnant. But baby growing inside . . . you got it -- has horns and a tail. Pretty lame, but what you expect in January.

The Wolf Of Wall Street (R) Martin Scorsese and Leo DiCaprio reunite yet again in this black comedy about an over-the-top 1980's stockbroker who is a forerunner to the wheeler dealers who caused the financial meltdown two decades later. Apart from being overly long (three hours), this film is brimming with action, a morality tale that is at times riveting, at times hilarious, and often just plain ugly. The guess here is both director and star will receive Oscar nominations, as will Jonah Hill. Also starring Matthew McConaughey and Kyle Chandler.

Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit (PG-13) January is typically a bad month for new releases – any film with even decent reviews is rushed to release before the end of the year to qualify for the Academy Awards and to take advantage of the holiday week box office.

By those standards, this film, starring Tom Clancy's ever-ready special agent, finds Jack Ryan uncovering an international financial scandal in the wake of 9-11. Chris Pine (Star Trek) stars in the title role – remember when Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise got these roles? The cast is a good one – Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley and Davis Paymer co-star – and Pine makes for a passable protagonist. You could do worse on a cold winter's night.

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