By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist December 22, 2011 at 1:10PM
We know it's a busy time of year, with a plethora of movie choices crowding up the multiplex, and even more coming in the next few days. We thought we'd make it easier to read and find a few reviews of films that come out this week that we ran recently, to refresh your memory and maybe point you in the right direction as you head out to the movies this weekend.
First up is "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" which opened as of last night at 7 PM. David Fincher's adaptation of the best selling novel by Stieg Larsson has been earning plenty of buzz, but seems to be coming in for the criticism that has dogged him much of his career. As we said in our review, 'Dragon Tattoo' "is beautifully-executed, well-acted and well-told, but it shares one unfortunate thing in common with the film that preceded it (and which may have been the reason Hollywood chose to remake it): for all of its promised viscera, intrigue and melodrama, it isn’t particularly emotionally engaging, preferring the details of a mystery that is solved without a lot of pyrotechnics, literal or otherwise protagonist." So expect a thrill ride that will engage your brain, but won't quite connect with your heart. [B]
Cameron Crowe returns with "We Bought A Zoo," and featuring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and lots and lots of cute animals, this one could have swung into treacly, "Marley & Me" territory very fast (it seems Fox is aiming at the same audience that came out in droves for that movie). And while it's certainly Crowe's most mainstream effort to date, the film does earn its zebra stripes. "While broadly drawn in story and fairly predictable, even banal at times, where the film counts and scores major emotional points is in the details that are unmistakably Crowe’s," we noted. "The writer/director nails a few killer monologues….[and] it is undeniably a feel-good crowd-pleaser that will likely find holiday-ready audiences laughing and weeping in all the intended places. The cynical-hearted will sneer at Crowe’s latest endeavor, and periodically, you’d be hard-pressed to fault them, but “We Bought A Zoo” does feel-good well, and like a deeply-felt cry that feels well-earned, it feels rather satisfying." [B]
Tom Hanks! Sandra Bullock! A little kid! 9/11! Yep, Stephen Daldry's "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" is aiming right for all your emotional buttons and pushing them hard, and credit where credit is due, he gets it done (mostly). In our review we noted that while the film has plenty of "grace notes" and knows the difference between "explicit" and "graphic" when it comes to the Twin Towers stuff, the film "flirts with darkness, the end result is bloodless, drained of all insight beyond the boy’s own coming-to-terms." So you may need some Kleenex, but the movie never quite lands with the impact it promises to. [B-]
Finally, tired of big stars and big budgets and want something more substantial to chew on this weekend? Take a trip to the arthouse and visit Wim Wenders' 3D dance doc "Pina," but this comes with a warning: the tribute to the late, great choreographer Pina Bauch may put you to sleep. Catching up with it this fall, we could barely keep our eyes open, saying, "The dances themselves are wondrous and beautiful, although at some point, if you don’t have an extensive understanding of impressionistic dance, they fail to make an impact. Sometimes the words of the dancers, during their interviews, are illuminating, particularly when they speak of the fascination Pina had with the elements (evidence by an early staged number where a layer of earth is spread across the stage floor and, again, that bit where people are dancing through puddles). You can get snatches, here and there, of what she is trying to convey, most of it being incredibly sophisticated conceptual stuff about what it means to be a modern woman, but they come in flashes and without any corroborating evidence (in the form of either historical or critical context), you’re mostly left guessing.." Bring a pillow. [C-]