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Must -Sees: The Last Station, Up in the Air, Bright Star

by Anne Thompson
December 4, 2009 1:00 AM
2 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

Must-Sees:
Jason Reitman's Up in the Air has been deemed a too-dark marketing challenge. But the movie's strength is the way it skips past conventional genre cliches while deftly taking its characters through romantic escape and isolation--and the tough economy. Paramount Pictures is one of the few studios that can market both big and little movies. Up in the Air may be on its way to some Oscar nominations: it won four awards from the National Board of Review, including best picture of the year. It's tied with Precious for number one on the Gurus 'O Gold. Reviews are stellar: Tomatometer: 84%. Metascore: 81.

The period biopic about Leo Tolstoy's tumultuous last year, The Last Station, played like gangbusters at Sneak Previews last night. The marital drama starring Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer and James McAvoy scored a surprising five Independent Spirit nominations. Here's EW's rave. Tomatometer: 62%. Metascore: 71.

Bright Star, writer-director Jane Campion's tragic period romance about Fanny Brawne and poet John Keats (Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw) is back in LA at Laemmle's Royal for an Academy run. Subtle, precise, and gorgeously mounted, it's my favorite movie of the year. Tomatometer: 83%. Metascore: 81.

Skippable:
Everybody's Fine, the last gasp of Miramax Films, plays like a bad studio movie, despite an ensemble led by Robert DeNiro and Kate Beckinsale. An original adaptation of the 1990 Giuseppe Tornatore film written and directed by Brit Kirk Jones, the family drama doesn't ring true, and star faces like Drew Barrymore don't help. Tomatometer: 45%. Metascore 40.

Fifty Dead Men Walking is a meandering IRA drama well-acted by Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe) and Ben Kingsley. Tomatometer: 86%. Metacritic: 56.

While Brothers boasts crisp photography from Frederick Elmes, it is a pale knock-off of the Susanne Bier 2004 original. Here's my review. Tomatometer: 59%. Metascore: 53.

The LAT scopes out the post-holiday box office, where the Sandra Bullock hit The Blind Side is expected to be number one.

2 Comments

  • John M | December 4, 2009 9:39 AMReply

    Interesting how FIFTY DEAD MEN WALKING has an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and 53% on Metacritic. I'm trusting the latter...

  • Griff | December 4, 2009 2:25 AMReply

    "An original written and directed by Brit Kirk Jones..."

    Well, hardly an "original" -- it's a direct remake of Giuseppe Tornatore's 1990 picture. I don't understand the solo use of the word "written" in the new film's credits when in this case it should clearly be "screenplay" or "written for the screen." And Tornatore, Tonino Guerra and the earlier movie's other writer should be credited on the poster and in the ads.

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