Memorial Day Weekend is bringing well-reviewed films both big and loud, and small and thoughtful (if also a bit loud: see a certain knock-down argument in "Before Midnight"). That film, Linklater's brilliant third installment in his romance trilogy starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, is receiving the best reviews of the bunch and rightly so. It's an observant, sharply realistic and gut-splittingly funny portrait of the demands on long-term romance.
In the Big and Loud department, the sixth "Fast & Furious" installment, directed by Justin Lin and starring the series' tried-and-true array of hard bodies, is stealing largely positive reviews, as "Fast Five" did. Not so for "The Hangover Part III," which is sitting with a lousy 25% Rotten on the Tomatometer. It's a good thing all those billboards scream "THE END" -- it seems like this franchise is way past its expiration date, if not at the box office.
Rama Burshtein's "Fill the Void," Israel's 2013 Oscar entry, is sitting in second place with high reviews. The delicate, perceptive tale follows a young woman's matchmaking troubles in the Hasidic Orthodox community of Tel Aviv. Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney's "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks" is also being received positively, though some reviewers question the film's structure sans Julian Assange.
Finally, the weekend's family entry, 3-D and CG-animated "Epic," is well-liked critically, even if reviews claim the film is more "pleasantly engaging" than epic.
Before Midnight Dir. Richard Linklater, USA | Sony Pictures Classics | Cast: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke | 97% Fresh | The New York Times: "Before Midnight is a wonderful paradox: a movie passionately committed to the ideal of imperfection that is itself very close to perfect." | Our TOH! review | Our TOH! interview with Linklater, Delpy and Hawke
Fill the Void Dir. Rama Burshtein, Israel | Sony Pictures Classics | Cast: Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein | 82% Fresh | Village Voice: "Burshtein's lush visual sensibility, and the subtle performances of the excellent cast, create an aching portrayal of longing and interdependence that transcends the boundaries of the family's small world." | Our TOH! review
Fast & Furious 6 Dir. Justin Lin, USA | Universal | Cast: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jordanna Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Paul Walker | 75% Fresh | Time Out New York: "None of it makes any sense, except within the high-octane
logic of blowing stuff up onscreen. And, in case you’re wondering, sometimes
that can be entertainment enough: Slack-jawed euphoria shoots like nitro
through the film. (Please be careful in the parking lot afterward.)" | Action featurette
Epic Dir. Chris Wedge, USA | Twentieth Century Fox | Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Beyonce Knowles, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson | 74% Fresh | The Hollywood Reporter: "While it might not amount to epic animated filmmaking in
terms of scope and invention, Epic, a 3D, CG adventure-fantasy from Blue Sky
Studios, nevertheless makes for pleasantly engaging viewing." | Immersed in Movies: Exclusive Sneak Peak at Blue Sky's Star-Studded "Epic"
We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks Dir. Alex Gibney, USA | Focus World | 73% Fresh | A.V. Club: "Truthfully, Assange’s absence from We Steal Secrets—regardless of the reasons for it—is a major liability, and not just because it prevents Gibney from truly engaging with his headline-grabbing subject. Without a strong personality at its center, the film often feels unbalanced, lurching awkwardly between basic infotainment concerns and a sharper, more specific agenda." | Our TOH! interview with Gibney
The Hangover Part III Dir. Todd Phillips, USA | Warner Bros. | Cast: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms | 25% Rotten | Rolling Stone: "What happened, bitches? Didn't the letdown of The Hangover Part II – basically Part I set in Thailand but minus the laughs – teach you anything? Guess not."