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Criticwire Picks: 'Cabin in the Woods' Tops a Busy Weekend

Photo of Steve Greene By Steve Greene | Criticwire April 11, 2012 at 12:55PM

At least among members of Indiewire's Criticwire Network, "The Cabin in the Woods" is one of the best reviewed movies so far this year. The only catch is that most critics don't want to spoil it.
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At least among members of Indiewire's Criticwire Network, "The Cabin in the Woods" is one of the best reviewed movies so far this year. The only catch is that most critics don't want to spoil it--with some exceptions.

"The Cabin in the Woods."
"The Cabin in the Woods."

Last month, Criticwire provided a Review Capsule gathering some of the immediate reactions to the film following its premiere at SXSW. But even in that roundup was the disclaimer that those who were deathly afraid of spoilers would probably do well to go into the new Drew Goddard-Joss Whedon collaboration knowing as little as possible. However, if any potential moviegoer has a desire to be extremely thorough, we have a few other Criticwire pieces dealing with the film, in addition to the Indiewire SXSW interview with Lord Whedon himself.

Among the other notable releases this week that are decidedly more discussion-friendly, many of come from abroad. After picking up an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film in February, "Monsieur Lazhar" finally opens to a wider audience. The tale of an Algerian immigrant who volunteers to be a substitute teacher after tragedy befalls a class of grade school students has pulled in an average grade of B+ as it has traveled through the festival circuit. In his Indiewire review, Eric Kohn says of Philippe Falardeau's fourth feature film, "These events take place under the auspices of a intelligent but generally cheery comedy...Life-affirming in accordance with classic Frank Capra formula, 'Monsieur Lazhar' doesn't abuse the backdrop of wartime scars as an excuse for heavy-handed dramatic weight. The affecting nature of the material is well-earned."

Alison Willmore, while not as enamored with the entire film, does single out lead actor Fellag as praiseworthy. "Fellag, with his tentative posture and slightly unsure smile, is a charming and appealing figure," she writes, "whether dealing with students (he observes a game of King Of The Hill in the snow, unsure whether he should intervene or if it's the norm) or the romantic advances of a fellow teacher who invites him over for dinner."

Another festival favorite now hitting theaters is "Post Mortem" (it has a B average on Criticwire), the latest from "Tony Manero" director Pablo Larrain. Set during the 1973 Allende coup in Chile, "Post Mortem" follows an elderly man who undertakes the dangerous mission of tracking down and rescuing his mysteriously-disappeared neighbor. Hitfix's Guy Lodge explains that "Larrain documents this turmoil with a cuttingly dispassionate eye that, like that of his withdrawn protagonist, covers chilling wells of anger and confusion; the brilliant composure of his camera, coupled with truly inspired sound design, prompts an insistent, stomach-knotting curiosity about what we aren’t being permitted to see."

A slew of films this week reside in the mid-range B-zone of critical ambivalence. These include Morgan Spurlock's recent documentary "Comic-Con: Episode IV - A Fan's Hope" and the Aung San Suu Kyi biopic "The Lady," directed by Luc Besson and starring Michelle Yeoh.

Criticwire: Films Opening This Week
NOTE: The averages listed here are current as of the publishing of this article. They are subject to change as new grades come in and will be updated in next week's edition of this article.

The Cabin in the Woods (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingA-

Monsieur Lazhar (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingB+

Post Mortem (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingB

Blue Like Jazz (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingB-

Comic-Con: Episode IV: A Fan's Hope (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingB-

Here (Film Page)
Average Criticwire rating: B-

The Lady (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingB-

Hit So Hard (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingC

Lockout (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingC-

Deadline (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingTBD

The Eye of the Storm (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingTBD

Late Bloomers (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingTBD

L!fe Happens (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingTBD

The Three Stooges (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingTBD

Touchback (Film Page)
Average Criticwire ratingTBD

For more information about this week’s releases and those scheduled for the weeks to come, be sure to check out Indiewire's Coming Soon section. 

This article is related to: Criticwire Picks, The Cabin in the Woods, Monsieur Lazhar, Post Mortem


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