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The Review Report for Friday, February 15th

Criticwire By Forrest Cardamenis | Criticwire February 15, 2013 at 11:07AM

What critics think of this week's batch of new releases.
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Gael Garcia Bernal in Pablo Larrain's "No."
Gael Garcia Bernal in Pablo Larrain's "No."

As you certainly know, today is Friday. This particular Friday, that means you have a long weekend to look forward to. But like any other Friday, it also means it is time for The Review Reportour weekly roundup of notable reviews for new films opening in theaters.

To begin, we have Pablo Larrain’s Chilean election drama “No.” In addition to being an Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, “No” is, at the time of this writing, the highest ranked narrative film from 2013 in our Criticwire database. If that isn’t enough to get you into the theater, hopefully these quotes will:

Anne-Katrin Titze, Eye For Film:

“An ugly past of Eighties TV images is rendered beautiful and the inherently manipulative fundamentals of capitalism grant a celebration of human rights. This is no small accomplishment. Oscar voters should give 'No' some amour.”

Jordan Cronk, Reverse Shot:

“'No' offers an admirable, detailed reconstruction of the period. Less metaphorically ambitious than what we’ve come to expect from Larraín, the film is nonetheless passionately staged with a feel of disarming authenticity.”

There’s also “Like Someone In Love,” the latest from legendary Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (“Close-Up”, “Certified Copy”), which has balanced a lukewarm Cannes reception with an admirable share of raves:

David Ehrlich, Reverse Shot:

“Few films have been so comprehensively attuned to the mechanics of isolation or how our need to define each other pivots on that process, and -- as in all of his masterpieces -- Kiarostami’s patience eventually allows his most abstract ideas to collect into a dramatic moment of palpable suspense.”

Joe Bendel, Libertas Film Magazine:

“'Someone' looks and sounds great, almost lulling the audience into a hypnotic trance. Yet, even with the fine work from Takanashi and Okuno, Kiarostami is just too demur and elliptical in his narrative approach to fully engage viewers. Accomplished in many ways, but certainly not a masterwork, 'Like Someone in Love' is recommended mainly for the filmmaker’s dedicated admirers.”

Hollywood did not fare quite as well this weekend, as “A Good Day To Die Hard,” the fifth installment in Bruce Willis’ “Die Hard” franchise, has scantly seen a good word:

Matt Rorabeck, Movie Knight:

“The quality seems to take a hit on each sequential 'Die Hard' film and that continues with 'A Good Day To Die Hard,' which is easily the worst entry in the series. With a lead that seems uninspired, chemistry between father and son that is practically invisible, a forgettable villain, and generic plot and action sequences, it’s easy to say this might be a good day to retire a franchise.”

William BibbianiCrave Online:

“'A Good Day to Die Hard' has some cool action sequences, and director John Moore ('Max Payne') knows it, so he lets them play out for so damned long that they quickly become background noise.”

Safe Haven,” the latest cinematic adaptation of the work of author Nicholas Sparks, isn’t faring much better, particularly as critics unite in their distaste for the film’s plot twists:

Matt Pais, Redeye:

“You should know: 'Safe Haven' contains two big twists that are also big mistakes, turning an already watered-down romance into frustrating, flavorless slush.”

Drew Hunt, Chicago Reader:

“Hallström flies in the face of narrative and thematic logic, and keeping up with the movie’s inane plot twists makes for a capricious good time, but an unimaginative denouement turns the whole thing into a fool’s errand.”

Lastly, critics are divided by “Beautiful Creatures” from Richard LaGravenese (“Freedom Writers”). Some see a pretty good young-adult film and others see a needless exercise designed merely to build a franchise:

Zac Oldenburg, Having Said That:

“'Beautiful Creatures' is more concerned about its sequels and in turn leaves a mess of a film to start off this supposed franchise instead. There’s no story, nothing interesting in the mythology they are trying to build and none of the characters are ones we can relate to.”

Drew Taylor, The Playlist:

“It's a handsomer, more sincere movie than anything in the 'Twilight' franchise, but it lacks a certain freshness that could prove crippling. Maybe if there was a spell to make everyone forget about ‘Twilight.’”

The multiplex won’t offer anything quite on par with last week’s “Side Effects,” but a trip to the art-house seems to be in order this Presidents Day weekend.

This article is related to: Like Someone In Love, The Review Report


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