It's another big weekend for new releases. We have another Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee, the American debut of an acclaimed foreign auteur, and a wildly original documentary. Just one of these titles would make for a noteworthy weekend, but with all three, there is no shortage of good films to see at the theater.
The Best Foreign Film nominee "War Witch" is a political film with elements of magical realism that have led many to compare it to "Beasts of the Southern Wild:"
"Seldom do we get a chance to commune with a story in which children's fantasies and mature decisions live in such a strong and authentic symbiotic relation as they do in 'War Witch.'"
"'War Witch' has a dreamy, fairy-tale quality that meshes surprisingly well with the more violent aspects of this tale, and Kim Nguyen ably mixes the fantastical elements of his story with a documentary-like aesthetic to create a richly textured work."
Park Chan-wook of "Oldboy" fame is back with "Stoker," a warmly received genre picture starring Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman:
"Once this Gothic thriller stops trying so hard, and lets its natural freak flag fly, this horror becomes quite the entertainment."
"This go for broke style can be quite unnerving and instead of ratcheting up the tension, it just feels slightly off in the first act... But eventually, as the pieces of this overarching puzzle start to fall together and the dots are connected, it’s easy to buy into what our director is aiming for."
An experimental nature documentary entitled "Leviathan," is garnering mostly raves from critics despite -- or perhaps because of -- its radical style:
"If, as a general rule, it's best not to get overly excited about a movie sight unseen, consider this an exception: the kind of film that creates an environment so visually and aurally complete as to be nearly indescribable."
"It becomes so that you can no longer even ask yourself how such and such shot or effect was achieved; its impossibility is central to the disorienting effect, to the sense that you're seeing the world as nobody does, and there's magic in not knowing."
There are wide releases too, of course. Bryan Singer ("X-Men," "The Usual Suspects") brings us "Jack The Giant Slayer," and early reviews display an interesting range of reactions:
"This is a movie for kids, to be certain, and I bet they'll respond to it. (Adults will enjoy it almost as much, if just by remembering what it was like before the real world crushed their sense of wonder.)"
"Rather than bring a legend to life, the bland, PG-13 'Jack the Giant Slayer' downscales an unforgettable journey into the shrug-worthy muck of every other big adventure, comprising one anti-climactic moment after another."
"21 and Over" may share screenwriters with "The Hangover," but critics are being far less kind to Jon Lucas' and Scott Moore's first turn behind the camera:
"If there's one thing these early-20-somethings don't deserve, it's sympathy, but Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who co-wrote and co-directed the movie, pull out three different manipulative tricks in order to try to goad our sympathy for their central characters."
Lastly, "Welcome To Pine Hill" is getting drowned out by these higher profile movies, but early reviews indicate that it is well worth your time.
"Most importantly, Miller does not approach 'Welcome to Pine Hill' as a film about race; though he understands that our world is far from being colorblind and race-related issues are inescapable."
Lots of choices this weekend, so comb through the reviews, choose wisely, and most of all, happy viewing!