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Weekend Preview: Tom Cruise's 'Oblivion' a Mediocre Mission, Francois Ozon's 'In the House' Liked by Critics

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood April 19, 2013 at 2:37PM

Tom Cruise apocalyptic vehicle "Oblivion," which is expected to score about $30 million when it opens wide this weekend, is a rare thing these days: a movie that arrives full-blown from the head of its filmmaker. While critics agree that Joseph Kosinski's spectacular piece of grown-up sci-fi boasts impressive visuals, some complain that the familiar sci-fi rehash -- unfavorable comparisons to "Total Recall" keep coming up -- bogs down the film.
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Tom Cruise in "Oblivion"
Tom Cruise in "Oblivion"

Tom Cruise apocalyptic vehicle "Oblivion," which is expected to score about $30 million when it opens wide this weekend, is a rare thing these days: a movie that arrives full-blown from the head of its filmmaker.  While critics agree that Joseph Kosinski's spectacular piece of grown-up sci-fi boasts impressive visuals, some complain that the familiar sci-fi rehash -- unfavorable comparisons to "Total Recall" keep coming up -- bogs down the film. Meanwhile, in limited release, Francois Ozon's psycho-sexual thriller and dark comedy "In the House," starring Fabrice Luchini, Kristin Scott Thomas and Ernst Umhauer, is the weekend's top-rated film.

Past Sundance entry "Filly Brown," starring Gina Rodriguez as an up-and-comer in the hip-hop world, is landing tepid reviews, as is Rob Zombie's visually enticing witch-hunt horror title "The Lords of Salem," which the NY Times laments abandons its interesting aspects for "hallucinatory garishness."

Finally, the April 17 release of Molly Bernstein's documentary "Deceptive Practices: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay" has pulled a rabbit out of the critical hat, and is winning praise for its highly engaging title subject.

In the House Dir. Francois Ozon, France | Cohen Media Group | Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ernst Umhauer, Emmanuelle Seigner | 87% Fresh | Variety: "More inspired by than adapted from Juan Mayorga’s play “The Boy in the Last Row,” this low-key thriller feels like a return to form for Ozon, whose pictures lost their psychosexual edge after the helmer stopped collaborating with Emmanuele Bernheim (“Swimming Pool”)." | TOH! exclusive clip | Our TOH! review.

Deceptive Practices: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay Dir. Molly Bernstein, USA | Kino Lorber | 80% Fresh | New York Times: "Unsurprisingly, Mr. Jay proves a hugely entertaining guide, and as generous about his professional inspirations as he is reticent about his own life."

Oblivion Dir. Joseph Kosinski, USA | Universal | Cast: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo, Zoe Bell | 60% Fresh | Village Voice: "The good news: Here's a lavish, serious science-fiction picture, one that on occasion transcends big-budget hit-making convention to glance against grandeur...Which brings us to Tom Cruise, the not-necessarily-good news. However engaging its end-times mysteries, Oblivion is still a Tom Cruise movie." | TOH! Kosinski interview | Our TOH! review.

Filly Brown Dir. Michael D. Olmos, USA | Pantelion Films | Cast: Edward James Olmos, Jenni Rivera, Gina Rodriguez | 51 Metascore | The Hollywood Reporter: "Gina Rodriguez’s magnetic star turn keeps this often overwrought film engaging, even when the script lets her down."

The Lords of Salem Dir. Rob Zombie, USA | Anchor Bay Films | Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Phillips | 42% Rotten | New York Times: "Considerable care goes into establishing the premise, but the film eventually abandons psychological subtlety for hallucinatory garishness, which is too bad."

All trailers are below.

This article is related to: Reviews, Weekend Preview, In the House, Oblivion, Filly Brown


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.