After last week's huge post-holiday box office drop, Hollywood will attempt to steer the ship back on course with a couple of high-profile new releases this weekend. Two of the world's biggest movie stars, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, team up for the goofy international espionage thriller "The Tourist," which doesn't have too much competition for the adult dollar this weekend--at least at the multiplex. Fox reignites the 'Narnia' franchise without co-financing from Disney, after the disappointment of "Prince Caspian" with "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader." The 3D inflation should help the film do decent numbers, but the quality of these films has turned many potential fans off of the series. On the limited front, New York, Los Angeles, and Boston get the David O. Russell/Mark Wahlberg/Christian Bale contender "The Fighter." Ben Affleck stars in the John Wells-directed recession-drama "The Company Men" which gets an Oscar-qualifying run in NY/LA before rolling out wide next month. Also out, Julie Taymor returns to Shakespeare with "The Tempest," which boasts a great cast and not much else; Steven Soderbergh's portrait of Spalding Gray, "And Everything Is Going Fine"; and Ry Russo-Young's drama "You Won't Miss Me."
In Wide Release: The follow-up to his Oscar-winning feature "The Lives of Others," "The Tourist" is German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmark's Hollywood debut. The script has been floating around for several years, undergoing a number of false starts, but Donnersmark managed to attract two of the world's leading stars to the project. Angelia Jolie stars as Elsie, a woman being followed by international police, who hope she will lead them to her lover, a criminal named Alexander Pearce. While in Venice, she crosses paths with Frank, played by Johnny Depp, who shares striking similarities with Pearce and recruits him (without his knowledge) to throw the cops off her trail. We reviewed the film earlier this week, finding that despite the mega-wattage talent involved, "The Tourist" is a tedious and lazy film that struggles to settle on a proper tone. RT: 16% Metacritic: 43.
The ugly stepchild of the the recent fantasy franchises, Narnia returns this weekend with "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader." The third film in the series tells the continuing story of the Pevensie siblings and their adventures across mystical lands, this time joining Prince Caspian on the royal ship The Dawn Treader and reaching the edge of the world. We managed to see the film, despite not caring for the earlier entries in the series, finding it to be cynical and perfunctory, with bargain-basement effects and 3D conversion. For die-hards only. RT: 50% Metacritic: 53.
In Limited Release: Playlist favorite David O. Russell returns to the director's chair for the first time since 2004's "I Heart Huckabees" with boxing pic "The Fighter." It tracks the true-life story of pugilist Micky Ward and his trainer and drug-addicted step-brother washout, Dickie. The film spins with verve and energy and features commanding performances by Melissa Leo and Christian Bale, who is likely to get his first Oscar nod for this turn. In case you missed it, read our take on the film right here. RT: 83% Metacritic: 64.
A timely tale of the flip-side of the American dream, "The Company Men" stars Ben Affleck as a wealthy professional who suddenly finds himself, along with co-workers Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones, out-of-work victims of corporate downsizing. The three men struggle to come to terms with joblessness and redefine their relationships with themselves and their families. "ER" creator John Wells directs the film, which also stars Kevin Costner as Affleck's building contractor brother-in law. We'll have a review of the film when it goes into wider release next month. RT: 69% Metacritic: 75.
Julie Taymor returns to Shakespeare for the first time since her visionary film debut "Titus" with "The Tempest." The adaption stars Helen Mirren as Prospera, switching the gender of the main character of the Bard's tragedy from male to female. Taymor has assembled an eclectic and fascinating cast to bring the play to life including Mirren, Jeremy Irons, Felicity Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Alan Cumming, David Strathairn and Russell Brand. We reviewed the film back at the New York Film Festival , finding it to be gaudy, overwrought and just plain bad. RT: 26% Metacritic: 41.
Also out in limited release today, Steven Soderbergh's documentary on the late master monologist Spalding Gray, "And Everything Is Going Fine." We posted our review this week, finding it to be a finely constructed, deeply satisfying and moving portrait of one of the most engaging talkers of our time. RT: 80 %.Stella Schnabel stars in the indie dramedy “You Won’t Miss Me” from director Ry Russo-Young. The film tells the story of Shelly Brown, a 23-year-old urban misfit recently released from a psychiatric hospital. We reviewed the film, finding some aspects admirable, but ultimately lacking insight and falling prey to the worst attributes of the mumbly micro-budget genre. RT:63%.