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What Are You Seeing This Weekend? 'Dead Man Down' Tries To Avoid 'The ABCs Of Death' From 'Oz'

The Playlist By Emma Bernstein | The Playlist March 8, 2013 at 4:19PM

Happy Friday, dear readers! One of the most wonderful things about film is its diversity of subject and style, the potential for variance and innovation inherent in the medium. This weekend's release schedule displays this core trait with relish; truly, it's a study in contrasts. We have an action-heavy neo-noir, a horror anthology, a war movie, two meditations on religion, documentaries (one that's pretty serious, one not so much), several character-based slice-of-life pics, and (sigh) another CGI world coming at you in three dimensions. Though, to be fair, we hear this last one is actually quite well done, so maybe watching it won't make us feel like our head's about to spin off. In any case, whether you're laughing, sobbing, or recoiling into your seat back (or, if you're lucky, all three in one sitting!), go enjoy the far-ranging capacity of this century-old medium. And tell us what you're most excited for in the comments below!
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In Theaters, Oz, Dead Man Down

Happy Friday, dear readers! One of the most wonderful things about film is its diversity of subject and style, the potential for variance and innovation inherent in the medium. This weekend's release schedule displays this core trait with relish; truly, it's a study in contrasts. We have an action-heavy neo-noir, a horror anthology, a war movie, two meditations on religion, documentaries (one that's pretty serious, one not so much), several character-based slice-of-life pics, and (sigh) another CGI world coming at you in three dimensions. Though, to be fair, we hear this last one is actually quite well done, so maybe watching it won't make us feel like our head's about to spin off. In any case, whether you're laughing, sobbing, or recoiling into your seat back (or, if you're lucky, all three in one sitting!), go enjoy the far-ranging capacity of this century-old medium. And tell us what you're most excited for in the comments below!

"Dead Man Down." Directed by Niels Arden Oplev. Starring Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, Isabelle Huppert, Dominic Cooper, Armand Assante, and F. Murray Abraham. Our review: "Everything about 'Dead Man Down' is designed to catch you off guard, and most of the time it totally works, effortlessly mixing B-movie aesthetics with deeply contemplative European artiness. The result is a movie that is genuinely, totally unexpected." Metacritic: 42 Rotten Tomatoes: 42% The Playlist: B+

"Oz The Great and Powerful." Directed by Sam Raimi. Starring James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Zach Braff. Our review: "It's certainly the most impressive digital effects we’ve seen in a long, long time and even the 3D is smartly utilized for key sequences (though, you could just as easily do without). But unfortunately, nothing else matches the technical accomplishments...'Oz The Great And Powerful' is a valiant attempt to build on the magic of 'The Wizard Of Oz,' and while it certainly doesn’t diminish the standing of that movie, Sam Raimi's film provides proof that the more we know about the mysteries of our favorite stories, the less interesting they become." MC: 44 RT: 56% PL: C

"The ABCs of Death." An omnibus film featuring 26 separate segments helmed by 26 different directors including Nacho Vigalondo, Marcel Sarmiento, Adam Wingard, and Ti West. Starring Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Kyra Zagorksy, Dallas Malloy, and Ivan Gonzalez. Our review: "'The ABCs of Death' likely isn't going to win over audiences that weren't already horror fans, but it has so much for genre fans (and short film fans) to enjoy that it's worth it." MC: 46 RT: 49% PL: B


"Emperor." Directed by Peter Webber. Starring Matthew Fox, Tommy Lee Jones, and Eriko Hatsune. Our review: "All told, 'Emperor' delivers a perfectly serviceable wartime movie, with its intentions in the right place. At the same time, its harmlessness and adherence to a formulaic storytelling style means the film has no voice of its own, and at its worst can feel like the cinematic equivalent of making sure you get enough fiber in your diet. But Tommy Lee Jones makes the endeavor worthwhile, pointing toward the better film that could have been made, instead of the one we got." MC: 49 RT: 35% PL: C

"Electrick Children." Directed by Rebecca Thomas. Starring Julia Garner, Rory Culkin, and Liam Aiken. Our review: "The twists and happenstance coincidences that the film relies on, as so often happens with this sort of magic realism, become actually problematic in its third act...So, good as it is, with a catchy high concept and hip indie sensibility, it could have been so much better. Culkin, Aiken and Garner, however, can count the film as a pretty unmitigated triumph from their points of view." MC: 60 RT: 85% PL: B

"The Monk." Directed by Dominik Moll. Starring Vincent Cassel, Deborah Francois, Josephine Japy, and Sergi Lopez. Though beautifully executed and well acted, this Gothic melodrama doesn't push the story envelope quite far enough, getting a little twisted at times, while missing the mood mark at others. MC: 62 RT: 66%

"The We and the I." Directed by Michel Gondry. Starring Michael Brodie, Theresa L. Rivera, Joe Mele, and Alex Barrios. Our review: "Muddled, muffled and mixing empty comedy with empty dramatics, 'The We and the I' is an abject failure." MC: 60 RT: 75% PL: D


"Beyond the Hills." Directed by Cristian Mungiu. Starring Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, and Valeriu Andriuta. Our review: "Gorgeously lensed and executed with an exacting (some would argue dry) aesthetic in which there are minimal camera movements and long takes, 'Beyond The Hills,' running at two and a half hours, is an endurance test. But pace yourself and lean back, because the rewards are ample. Deceivingly complex, with an emotional center that peels away like an onion the longer it unfolds, this is a powerful effort from Mungiu in which love and faith are both different kinds of poison." MC: 80 RT: 81% PL: B+


"The Silence." Directed by Baran bo Odar. Starring Ulrich Thomsen, Wotan Wilke Mohring, Katrin Sass, and Burghart Klaussner. With a complex, graceful thriller that offers a compelling meditation on grief and guilt, the first time feature director proves he's one to watch. MC: 69 RT: 100%


"Somebody Up There Likes Me." Directed by Bob Byington. Starring Keith Poulson, Nick Offerman, and Jess Weixler. Our review: "Like our not-quite-hero, 'Somebody Up There Likes Me' walks a fine line between casual cruelty and the grander schemes of time, evoking recent festival favorites 'The Happy Poet' and 'You Hurt My Feelings' as much as the respectively funnier and farther-reaching likes of 'The Jerk' and 'Barry Lyndon.'" MC: 51 RT: no score yet PL: B

"Greedy Lying Bastards." Directed by Craig Scott Rosebraugh. The documentary's blunt, even rude, condemnation of the people and organizations who deny the existence of climate change is just as likely to be validating as off-putting. On the other hand, devastating statistics, footage of ecological disasters, and interviews with experts do make for a thorough argument. MC: 55 RT: 79%

"Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey." Directed by Ramona S. Diaz. This chronicle of Armel Pineda's Internet-driven rise from obscurity to become the front man for Journey is timely and involving as a contemporary fairy tale. But it's also a little thin, at times more concert video than rockumentary. MC: 60 RT: 68%


"The Girl." Directed by David Riker. Starring Abbie Cornish, Maritza Santiago Hernandez, and Will Patton. Our review: "Well-told, well-shot and featuring a strong, but restrained and internalized performance from actress Abbie Cornish...'The Girl' is a mannered and in-the-pocket indie drama that might be a total subdued winner if it weren't for its dubious political ideologies." MC: 53 RT: no score yet PL: B-


This article is related to: Dead Man Down, Oz The Great And Powerful, The ABCs Of Death, Emperor, Electrick Children, The We And The I, Beyond The Hills, Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Girl


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