By Forrest Cardamenis | Criticwire March 8, 2013 at 10:26AM
At least in terms of name recognition, March is certainly looking like a big month for releases. But do the critics agree? By far the best-reviewed film of the week is "Beyond The Hills," Cristian Mungiu's follow-up to the Palme d'Or winning "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days."
Anna-Katrin Tritze, Eye For Film:
"If the way Alina cries and hugs her friend hello, in between train tracks, does not trigger your empathy, you are possibly already dead."
"Mungiu has once again created a truly sumptuous, yet incredibly naturalistic depiction of faith, fear and the absurdity of human behaviour."
Today is also a chance to return to the wonderful world of Oz, but Sam Raimi's vision of "Oz: The Great and Powerful" is coming up cold to all but his biggest fans.
"'Oz' soon resembles one of those vast parties that once you've met everyone, it’s time to go home. Believe me, you'll want to. Everything here has been drawn out to an unconscionably long 130 minutes without much story but with too many characters."
"In a way, then, Raimi and his writers aren’t just paying homage to "The Wizard of Oz;" they’ve made a hero of the first movie director, one who uses those flickering illusions to change the world."
Another beloved director who can't help but divide critics with his new film, "The We and the I," is Michael Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"), and the divide here is especially large.
"A shockingly horrendous film that strips away every bit of this man's gifted imagination... Aside from the opening credits (I won't give that away so you'll have something to look forward to), there's nothing visually appetizing about this film."
Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys:
"Amusing, oddly gripping and ultimately emotional, 'The We and the I' is another triumph from Michel Gondry, something of an experiment that has paid off no end."
Horror fans, this one's for you: "The ABCs of Death" doesn't hit on every short in its 26-film anthology, but as a package, it could certainly have turned out a lot worse.
"The differing styles, mediums, and ideas that flash on screen may not fit together, but, at their best, do exhilarate and intrigue. As an exercise in film history, ranging from claymation to samurai films, and everything in-between, 'ABCs' works just as well as most film school intro courses."
"The idea for this horror feature is super clever, as are the best of the shorts within it, but the bad far outweighs the good. If you're gonna bother with this alphabetic orgy of gore and carnage, do it On Demand so you can fast forward through the unbearably bad ones."
And finally, the political-minded may consider a look at "Emperor," starring Tommy Lee Jones as Douglas MacArthur.
"'Emperor' may take some liberties and omit a sizeable chunk of information, but as a concise reduction of history, the movie does get at some truth. As an involving piece of storytelling, though, it's lacking."
"'Emperor' presents the challenges of peace in a rather thoughtful manner. Frustratingly, for reasons of presumed convenience, screenwriters Vera Blasi and David Klass let claims of moral equivalency go unchallenged."
Despite the wealth of big-names on display this week, it looks like the critics are divided. Click on any of the film names above to look at a few more reviews before deciding which film will most agree with you this weekend.