There’s a lot of stuff opening this week, and believe me when I tell you I was rooting for it all. But it just didn’t pan out. Read on and see …
“Holy Rollers“: Kevin Asch’s true-crime thriller about the Hasidic Jews who ran an ecstacy-smuggling ring from Amsterdam to Brooklyn in the late 1980s makes the mistake of focusing on the crime instead of the culture, wasting interesting performances from Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Bartha in the process. It won’t lose anything on DVD.
“Jonah Hex”: I could see a lot of potential in this bizarre comic-book Western, which stars Josh Brolin as DC’s mutilated bounty hunter. It comes very close to working more often than not — but I’d advise you to wait until the inevitable director’s cut hits DVD, because I’d wager dollars to doughnuts it’ll be longer, weirder and considerably funnier than the shredded theatrical version. John Malkovich will still look like he’s got a potato stuck in his neck, though.
“Journey from Zanskar“: Frederick Marx, one of the producers of “Hoop Dreams”, follows a pair of monks as they try to bring a dozen or so children from a tiny village in Northern India to a Tibetan school several hundred dangerous miles to the south. The filmmaking may be on the clumsy side, but the story will keep you watching.
“Toy Story 3“: Disney forces Pixar to go through the motions in this expertly crafted but narratively pointless sequel, which simultaneously tries to wrap up the story of Woody and Buzz and reposition the property for a new generation. It’s worth seeing for the spectacular animation, but the heart’s just not there this time around.
“Winter’s Bone”: Yes, it was acclaimed at Sundance and it continues to garner strong support from certain critical corners, but I found Debra Granik’s hardscrabble thriller to be merely average once I got past the exotic veneer of the setting — with the exception of Jennifer Lawrence’s strong turn in the lead. Susan and Adam are similarly reserved in their praise.
“Year of the Carnivore”: Sook-Yin Lee plays out her fascination with sexual insecurity at feature length with this tedious, affected comedy about a young woman trying to educate herself in the ways of the icky, awkward flesh. Cristin Milioti is a hell of a sport, but that’s about the best thing I can say here. Susan is somewhat more gentle.
Also noteworthy: Michael Stasko’s “Iodine“, making its Toronto debut tonight at the Toronto Underground Cinema with an encore screening next Wednesday. And TIFF Cinematheque kicks off its Robin Wood tribute tonight with Howard Hawks’ “Rio Bravo”, preceded by Laurel and Hardy in Leo McCarey’s 1929 silent “Wrong Again”. Need something to watch? You could certainly do worse.