This week’s releases are doing more to divide critics than we’ve seen in a while, with people taking sides on just about everything. I, of course, stand above the fray, my opinions being consistently correct. So there.
“Angel-A“: Trying to reclaim his throne as France’s premier pop stylist, Luc Besson reimagines “Wings of Desire” as a pas de deux between a suicidal loser and a statuesque blonde who may or may not be his guardian angel. (Okay, she is.)
“Brand Upon the Brain!“: Oh, that Guy Maddin, working out his kinks through the magic of cinema: Ambiguous childhood memories! Controlling parents! Sexually alluring androgynes! Boobies! Boobies! Boobies! But you know, I’m getting awfully tired of paying for his therapy.
“Day Watch“: Timor Bekhmambetov’s even more outlandish sequel to his marvelous “Night Watch” finds Konstantin Khabensky’s downtrodden hero investigating a series of murders that seem to be orchestrated to trigger an apocalypse. It’s like a really elaborate episode of “Law & Order”, if “Law & Order” had body-swapping, shape-shifting, vampires, bullet-time acrobatics and trips into Second Level Gloom. Hey, it’d shake things up.
“Hostel Part II”: Eli Roth follows up his sado-porn hit by expanding on its universe, following the action from the perspective of the torturers as well as the tortured. No press screenings. Gee, I wonder why.
“Ocean’s Thirteen“: More capering from Clooney, Pitt et al, with Matt Damon in a ridiculous nose and Ellen Barkin in a comic supporting role that makes you wonder where she’s been for the last ten years. The cast is winning, the plot holds together, and the whole thing looks like a candy apple through Steven Soderbergh’s innovative lens. Basically, I got no complaints.
“Surf’s Up”: A CGI mockumentary about surfing penguins, this film provides proof of concept to the argument that the mockumentary format has become a death-trap for narrative. Not that the filmmakers don’t stay absolutely faithful to the concept of a camera crew shadowing the surfing penguins, and not that the voice performers aren’t terrific (particularly Zooey Deschanel, finding the marvelous irony in being a lifeguard for waterfowl), but the sports-documentary structure means the film ultimately has to take itself seriously, which leads to decreasing returns on the whole “funny ” thing.
“La Vie en Rose“: Some critics are rhapsodizing over Olivier Dahan’s swoony Edith Piaf biopic. Moi, not so much; just when I thought I’d recovered from the one-two punch of “De-Lovely” and “Beyond the Sea”, here comes another overstylized disaster. And I say this as a man who will happily watch Marion Cotillard in absolutely anything — hell, “A Good Year” was proof of that.
Also opening this week, but reviewed by the other guys: “Bolly Double”, “Love is Work” and “Screamers”. You can read about them on Metro’s Movies page, if you’re curious.