Pretty Good, For February

This week’s assortment of Oscar bait isn’t particularly appealing, but that’s okay; this is a phenomenally good week for genre pictures, with two solid horror films and the wonder that is “Chronicle”. But wait — I’ve said too much already.

“Albert Nobbs”: Glenn Close has been trying to get this movie made for thirty year … and now, tragically, she’s far too old to play the role as written, which creates a schism that’s never resolved. (Rodrigo Garcia’s plodding direction does her no favors either.) Glenn is similarly underwhelmed.

“Big Miracle”: It seems like only yesterday “Dolphin Tale” showed us the wonders of pairing children and aquatic mammals. And now, in another true story, some kid helps Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski and Kristin Bell save a pod of whales. Phil found it tolerable.

Chronicle“: One of the best films I’ve seen in months, and one of the trickiest reviews I’ve had to write in at least as long. Just go see it, okay? Like, right now, before anyone can spoil it for you.

The Innkeepers“:  Ti West‘s simmering ghost story features great atmosphere and a delightfully unconventional star turn from Sara Paxton — yes, the girl from “Shark Night 3D” . Go see it after you see “Chronicle”.

“Inside Lara Roxx”: Mia Donovan’s documentary looks at the life of the Montreal-born porn star-turned-HIV-positive-AIDS-awareness activist. Susan finds the second half more effective — and more affecting — than the first.

“Miss Bala”: A Mexican beauty-pageant winner (Stephanie Sigman) finds herself becoming eye candy for the drug cartels in Gerardo Naranjo’s TIFF crowd-pleaser. Among the pleased: Rad!

Moon Point“: Sean Cisterna’s no-budget road movie has some strong elements, but he can’t wrangle them all together long enough to find a tone that works. If you don’t know what kind of story you’re telling, you can’t expect people to care about it, you know?

“Pink Ribbons, Inc.”: Lea Pool’s documentary about the insidious methods of certain breast-cancer charities lucks into opening just as the fracas over the Susan G. Komen foundation defunding Planned Parenthood reaches a fever pitch. Susan saw it coming.

“Le Vendeur”: Remember that one movie from Canada’s Top Ten that no one could discuss because it didn’t play TIFF? It’s opening now, and according to Glenn it’s pretty decent.

“W.E.”: Glenn is less enthused about Madonna’s second directorial effort, which reads like an attempt to rework “Julie & Julia” to fit the Wallis Simpson story. Having seen “Filth and Wisdom”, well, I am not surprised.

The Woman in Black“:  Daniel Radcliffe — nice kid, by the way — transitions out from the “Harry Potter” movies with this properly Gothic ghost story, which forms an interesting mirror image of “The Innkeepers” with its CG-augmented spookhouse.  Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you, just a different approach.

That’s plenty to go on, isn’t it? But seriously, see “Chronicle” first. I’m in Washington on a junket, and I want to sneak off and see it again today.

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