Luck of the Draw

Hey, that guy's betting against our happiness!Sometimes, the fact that Toronto doesn’t get movies as quickly as New York and Los Angeles works in our favor. If it wasn’t for the delayed openings of “Blue Valentine” and “Somewhere”, this would be an awfully grim week. Of course, we’re in that miserable period between Christmas Day and the announcement of the Oscar nominations, so we shouldn’t expect any better. “Blue Valentine” and “Somewhere” both opening today? That’s a win.

“Blue Valentine”: Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are endearing and devastating in equal measure — and sometimes in the same moment — in Derek Cianfrance’s calculated but undeniably powerful study of a young marriage on the rocks. Rad was a little less willing to overlook the contrivances (how old is that kid again?) but he acknowledges the power of the performances.

“Country Strong”: We know she can sing, Paltrow is getting mixed reviews for her role as a Nashville diva — Susan didn’t buy her at all — in the new film from the director of “The Greatest”. Having seen “The Greatest”, I’m content to wait for the DVD on this one.

“Precious Life”: Shlomi Eldar’s documentary finds a new angle on the impasse in the Middle East with this compelling look at the dedicated staff of an Israeli hospital as they try to save a dying Palestinian baby. Susan gets it.

Season of the Witch“: Any movie in which Nicolas Cage plays a Crusader and Ron Perlman is his sidekick should either be much funnier or much scarier than what Dominic Sena comes up with here. Shelved since last March; isn’t any better for it. And depressingly cheap-looking, considering Sena’s the guy who made “Kalifornia”, “Gone in Sixty Seconds” and “Swordfish”.

Somewhere“: Yes, Sofia Coppola is reworking ideas she first put forth in “Lost in Translation”, but this time she’s given both of her characters equal consideration, rather than letting Bill Murray fill out a character sketch. It won’t win her any new fans, but Coppola’s picking at something I find really intriguing.

And that’s the week. Onward and upward!