It must be Oscar season or something — look at all the self-importance on display!
“The Prestige“: Gorgeous to look at, entertainingly performed, elegantly assembled, but built on a concept so fundamentally illogical that the foundation collapses about five minutes before the credits roll … landing right on top of a second ridiculous idea. Really, I’d have been happier watching “Batman vs. Wolverine”.
“Tideland“: Terry Gilliam makes a movie on his own, uncompromising terms, and it’s the worst thing he’s ever done. Terry, you know I love you, and I’m telling you this for your own good: Make “Watchmen”. Now.
“Running with Scissors“: It doesn’t matter if Augusten Burroughs’ memoir is telling the truth about his turbulent adolescence; it only matters that Ryan Murphy’s film is so hideously affected that it’s impossible to perceive the characters as anything more than cartoons. By the third redemptive musical montage, I was hating this like poison. Still, Annette Bening has a shot at an Oscar, so that’s something.
“Flags of Our Fathers“: Clint Eastwood’s look at the Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima often feels like it was directed by remote control — or by a particularly competent second unit. When one considers how small Eastwood’s films have become over the last decade (even “Mystic River” is really only about the three guys at its center), one has to wonder why Steven Spielberg thought he’d be a good fit for this material.
Fortunately, there are a couple of good pictures opening amidst all the posturing: Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” isn’t a classic for the ages or anything, but Kirsten Dunst is terrific, and Coppola’s hermetic approach to the courts of Louis XV and XIV is never less than intriguing. Plus, it has Steve Coogan in it.
And though it’s dividing critics a little more fiercely than I’d expected, I found Todd Field’s “Little Children” to be an involving character piece quite in step with his last film, “In the Bedroom”. Same undercurrent of dissatisfaction, same gathering dread, but Tom Perotta’s novel also supplies a streak of mordant wit before everything goes to hell.
The only film left is “Flicka”, which I’ll be seeing this afternoon, because the work never ends.