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Weekend Preview: Catch Up on Oscar Viewing, Plus 'Gangster Squad,' 'Clandestine Childhood,' 'Quartet' and 'Struck by Lightning'

Thompson on Hollywood By TOH! | Thompson on Hollywood January 11, 2013 at 11:58AM

Per usual, January is not a fertile ground for strong new movies. Arrivals this weekend will be fighting for attention amidst the Oscar chatter. Dustin Hoffman's delightfully escapist "Quartet," which had an-Oscar qualifying run, leads the pack at 78% Fresh. Despite its abundance of movie stars, the post-Aurora-delayed "Gangster Squad" is failing to impress most critics.
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Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in "Gangster Squad"
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in "Gangster Squad"
With the Oscar nominees announced, it's the perfect time to catch up on the contenders still playing in theaters: Best Picture contenders "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Silver Linings Playbook" are hitting theaters nationwide, while popular hits "Lincoln," "Les Miserables," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi" and "Argo" are holding strong. You can also catch Best Actress nominee Naomi Watts in harrowing survival adventure "The Impossible" and Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington's tour-de-force performance in "Flight."

Per usual, January is not a fertile ground for strong new movies. Arrivals this weekend will be fighting for attention amidst the Oscar chatter. Dustin Hoffman's delightfully escapist "Quartet," which had an-Oscar qualifying run, leads the pack at 78% Fresh. Despite its abundance of movie stars, the post-Aurora-delayed "Gangster Squad" is failing to impress most critics; Argentina's submission to the Oscars, "Clandestine Childhood," and Chris Colfer's comedy "Struck by Lightning" are also struggling to get critical praise. Check out reviews, trailers and details below.

"Gangster Squad" Dir. Ruben Fleisher, USA | Warner Bros. | Cast: Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi | 41% Rotten | The Hollywood Reporter: "Made up of synthetics rather than whole cloth, this lurid concoction superficially gets by thanks to a strong cast and jazzy period detail, but its cartoonish contrivances fail to convince and lack any of the depth, feeling or atmosphere of genre stand-bearers like 'L.A. Confidential.'"

"Clandestine Childhood" Dir. Benjamin Avila, Argentina | Film Movement | Cast: Natalia Oreiro, Ernesto Alterio, Cesar Troncosco | 50% RottenTime Out New York: "If such outré flourishes don't fully lift the story past the limitations of innocence-lost storytelling, they do suggest Ávila is an artist worth keeping an eye on."

"Quartet" Dir. Dustin Hoffman, UK | The Weinstein Co. | Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins, Sheridan Smith, Andrew Sachs, Luke Newberry | Review round-up | Telegraph: "Immortal though the withering scorn of Maggie Smith may be, it’s a complacent filmmaker who asks nothing else of her but a look of haughty horror at whatever new vulgarity awaits. Rest assured, we do get our money’s worth of these in 'Quartet'..."

"Struck by Lightning" Dir. Brian Dannelly, USA | Tribeca Film | Cast: Chris Colfer, Christina Hendricks, Dermot Mulroney, Rebel Wilson | 36% Rotten | The A.V. Club: "'Lightning' is a funny, fast-moving movie, packed with barbed one-liners, goofy hyperbole, and all the oversized exasperation of teen angst. But it's too acid, particularly where Colfer is concerned."

This article is related to: Weekend Preview, Reviews, Reviews, Video, Oscars, Gangster Squad, Quartet


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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.