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Weekend Preview: Documentaries 'Sound City' and 'Koch' Best Bets, 'Warm Bodies' a Lively YA Installment

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood February 1, 2013 at 2:16PM

A number of documentaries hit the limited release circuit this weekend, including Neil Barsky's eerily timely "Koch," a clear-eyed portrait of the former NY mayor who just today passed away at the age of 88, and Dave Grohl's "Sound City," with interviews from a panoply of big names from rock history.
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Dave Grohl in "Sound City."
Dave Grohl in "Sound City."

A number of documentaries hit the limited release circuit this weekend, including Neil Barsky's eerily timely "Koch," a clear-eyed portrait of the former NY mayor who just today passed away at the age of 88, and Dave Grohl's "Sound City," with interviews from a panoply of big names from rock history. Both are very well reviewed. Alex Gibney's look at the rough-and-tumble NHL, "The Last Gladiators," isn't quite passing the goal line, meeting mixed reviews. Meanwhile, the latest Young Adult bait "Warm Bodies" has some kick to it, while genre veteran Walter Hill's "Bullet to the Head," starring Stallone, doesn't hit the mark.

"Bullet to the Head" Dir. Walter Hill, USA | Warner Bros. Pictures | Cast: Sylvestore Stallone, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater | 48% Rotten | NPR: "The plot fails to deliver a single surprise, however, and the characterizations are thin even by the standards of the tough-guy genre."

"Warm Bodies" Dir. Jonathan Levine, USA | Summit Entertainment | Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich | 78% Fresh | Chicago Sun-Times: "A well-paced, nicely directed, post-apocalyptic love story with a terrific sense of humor and the, um, guts to be unabashedly romantic and unapologetically optimistic.

"Koch" Dir Neil Barsky, USA | Zeitgeist Films | Cast: Edward I. Koch | 80% Fresh | A.V. Club: "Neil Barsky's Koch doesn't try to do anything radical as a piece of filmmaking, but Barsky - a former newspaper reporter - covers Koch's story magnificently as a journalist." | Trailer

"Sound City" Dir. Dave Grohl, USA | Variance Films | Cast: Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Stevie Nicks, Lars Ulrich, Mick Fleetwood | 100% Fresh | Los Angeles Times: "High-spirited, emotional and funny, Sound City is, of all things, a mash note to a machine. Not just any machine, however, but one that helped change the face of rock 'n' roll."

"The Last Gladiators" Dir. Alex Gibney, USA | Phase 4 Films | Cast: Chris "Knuckles" Nilan | 55 Metascore | New York Post: "When The Last Gladiators treats brawls like greatest-hits clips for more than half the movie, then suggests fighting is behind Nilan's decline, it feels like trying to have it both ways."

This article is related to: Reviews, Weekend Preview, Walter Hill, Alex Gibney, Sound City, Trailers, Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

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.