Monsters from the Grid

53I haven’t seen Pixels, nor do I ever expect to. Just lucky, I guess. But it’s poised to be the week’s biggest hit of the week … or the picture that finally kicks Adam Sandler’s movie career to the curb, once and for all. Fortunately, it’s not your only option this weekend; unfortunately, most of the other ones seem pretty grim.

American Heist: A godawful script and some diabolical scene-chewing undermine a surprisingly decent central turn from Hayden Christensen in Sarik Andreasyan’s dopey Heat ripoff.

A Hard DayRad really liked Kim Seong-hun’s thriller about a cop (Lee Sun-kyun) whose attempt to cover up a hit-and-run turns into the worst mistake he’s ever made. (Which it already was, really, but … trust me.)

Irrational Man: In which Woody Allen’s perpetual auto-cannibalism and hermetic worldview finally start to wear Susan down. It’s not pretty.

The Look of Silence: Joshua Oppenheimer follows The Act of Killing with a film that’s perhaps even more powerful, because it comes at the Indonesian genocide from the perspective of the survivors rather than the perpetrators. Not an easy watch, obviously, but one of the year’s best.

Only You: Did you know there was a Chinese remake of Norman Jewison’s vaguely remembered 1994 rom-com? Well, there is — and it starts Tang Wei in Marisa Tomei’s role, and Liao Fan in Robert Downey Jr’s. What it isn’t, according to Rad, is worth two hours of your life.

Paper Towns: In which 20th Century Fox hopes to replicate the smash-hittery of The Fault in Our Stars with another John Green adaptation about a dreamy small-town teen who meets that special someone. Glenn gives it a pass.

Pixels: Yup. Adam Sandler vs. ’80s video games, from the director of two Harry Potter movies. America, this is your legacy. Rad grapples with the lessons therein.

La Sapienza: Eugene Green’s idiosyncratic, stage-influenced approach to cinema results in this overly mannered dud about a French couple who befriend a pair of young Italian siblings and proceed to philosophize at them, and us, for a very long time.

Southpaw: Jake Gyllenhaal is terrific as a fallen prizefighter trying to reassemble his life after a tragedy, but he’s fighting virtually solo against an overstuffed, unapologetically melodramatic screenplay and Antoine Fuqua’s characteristically overboiled direction. I didn’t like the movie, but I’m okay with Gyllenhaal winning an Oscar for his work in it.

Unexpected: Cobie Smulders and Gail Bean similarly struggle against their principal creative collaborator, as director Kris Swanberg undercuts their intelligent, heartfelt performances with a simplistic approach to her story about a Chicago teacher who gets pregnant right around the same time as one of her best students.

What can I say? It’s that kind of week.

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