"The Awakening," while it certainly has its flaws, marks a cinematically satisfying debut from director Nick Murphy. Starring Rebecca Hall and the "The Wire"'s Dominic West, the film is gorgeously lensed (on 35mm) in stunning texturaly period settings by Eduard Grau ("A Single Man").
David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" is a frustrating and pretentious noble failure (others at TOH disagree). The comely and cold Pattinson has potential, but so far he's been used as a mouthpiece for a director, not as a vessel for an actual character.
"Robot & Frank," meanwhile, is mostly a waste of Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon (if not a ripoff of the far superior "Lovely, Still"), intermittently elevated by spurts of humor. It dives headfirst into cliche as soon as it hears the denouement bells.
Trailers, reviews and more details on these films and more are below:
"Side by Side" Tribeca Film, US | DIR: Chris Kenneally WITH: Keanu Reeves, David Fincher, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Wally Pfister, Lena Dunham, Greta Gerwig & more | 100% Fresh | ComingSoon: "Mandatory viewing for anyone who loves movies and has any interest in learning more about how they're made and how that's been changing in the last few years." | TOH interview with Kenneally, Clips.
"The Expendables 2" Lionsgate, US | DIR: Simon West CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzzenegger | 62% Fresh | Variety: "Redundant, bombastic and cheekily self-aware, The Expendables 2 is also savvy enough to supply its own auto-critique."
"Cosmopolis" Entertainment One, FR/CAN | DIR: David Cronenberg CAST: Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton, Juliette Binoche | 64% Fresh | Village Voice: "We're supposed to be feeling . . . something. That we don't might be Cronenberg's own endgame."
"ParaNorman" Focus Features, US | DIR: Chris Butler VOICE CAST: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann | 86% Fresh | Time Out NY: "This is the kind of grim fairy tale, equal parts midnight-movie macabre and family-round-the-hearth compassionate, that scars in all the right ways." | TOH interview with directors.
"The Awakening" Cohen Media Group, UK | DIR: Nick Murphy CAST: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton | 66% Fresh | THR: "A too-rare instance in which a gifted young actor signs on for a fright flick without coming away tainted, The Awakening places Rebecca Hall in a convincing historical setting and gives her more to do than widen her eyes in fear."
"Beloved" IFC, FR/UK/CZ | DIR: Christophe Honoré CAST: Rasha Bukvic, Catherine Deneuve, Milos Forman, Louis Garrel, Chiara Mastroianni, Ludivine Sagnier, Paul Schneider | 62% Fresh | Village Voice: "A sprawling mess of multiple romantic triangles in which all the angles are obtuse."
"Robot and Frank" Samuel Goldwyn Films, US | DIR: Jake Schreier CAST: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler | 85% Fresh | Film School Rejects: "When the film allows itself to slack, it slumps almost irrevocably, and it never quite recovers from an unsatisfying and overemotional middle."
"Sparkle" TriStar, US | Dir: Salim Akil CAST: Jordan Sparks, Whitney Houston, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter | 55% Rotten | Slant: "Whitney Houston's death is just about the only thing that gives the film real, albeit mostly unintentional, life."