I’m staring down the TFCA voting deadline, so let’s get right to this weekend’s movies:
“Canvas”: American indie stalwarts Joe Pantoliano and Marcia Gay Harden co-star in Joseph Greco’s modest drama about a man struggling with the care of his mentally unbalanced wife. This would be more notable if the film hadn’t been available on DVD for the better part of the year, as Glenn points out with some delicacy. (I know the DVD issue didn’t stop me from hailing “Tell No One“, but that was a much better movie.)
“The Day the Earth Stood Still”: Keanu Reeves steps in for Michael Rennie in a clearly expensive remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic, directed by the guy who brought us “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”. Barrett and Jason both found it agreeable enough, but somehow I haven’t really felt a need to experience this on the big screen.
“Delgo”: The late Anne Bancroft turns up as a character voice in this digital adventure, which also stars Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt; beyond that, it’s a complete blank to me, dumped into the release calendar at the last minute. The only review up so far is Neil Karassik’s, and he didn’t like it at all.
“Doubt”: Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman face off in John Patrick Shanley’s somewhat calculated big-screen adaptation of his acclaimed stage play; Streep does a decent job of playing one stern note, but it’s Hoffman and Amy Adams whose finely tuned ambiguities really stay with you. Susan found it similarly middling; Kieran was more into it.
“Nothing Like the Holidays“: The wacky-family Christmas dramedy gets a Puerto Rican variation in this surprisingly engaging entry from Alfredo de Villa; it feels occasionally like a filmed play, but the cast is solid and the action moves along well. Also, Luis Guzman is a lot more entertaining here than he is in “Yes Man”. Trust me on that one.
“The Reader”: Kate Winslet makes the most blatant Oscar bid of her career in Stephen Daldry’s machine-tooled prestige picture, in which we learn the whole Holocaust thing was hard on the Germans, too. Okay, it’s deeper than that, but not in Daldry’s conception; seriously, this is the kind of movie that opens with a screen title explaining that Berlin is in Germany. Susan went with it; Adam did not.
“Toronto Stories“: The city-anthology trend hits a wall with this feeble collection of shorts by local heroes Aaron Woodley, Sook-Yin Lee, Sudz Sutherland and David Weaver. Check out the comment thread forming beneath the review; you’d think I was personally attacking the city and its inhabitants, rather than pointing out that a movie isn’t very good.
Okay, that’s everything. Unless you were planning to see the complete “Berlin Alexanderplatz” at Cinematheque over the weekend, in which case … well, may God have mercy on your butt-tocks.