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Weekend Preview: Swinton, Belafonte, Wahlberg and Streep

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by Sophia Savage
January 12, 2012 5:14 PM
1 Comment
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"We Need to Talk About Kevin" | "Contraband" | "Sing Your Song" | "The Iron Lady"

Meryl Streep may be a major contender for a Best Actress Oscar nomination and win (as per usual), but reviews for her film "The Iron Lady" (expanding its run this weekend) are less than upbeat. While Streep's performance is called "virtuouso," the Margaret Thatcher biopic from Phyllida Lloyd is also being called a failure. Tilda Swinton, another possible Oscar nominee, also has a devisive film opening this weekend: Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin" (opening in NY this weekend, LA next) is a psychological thriller that takes the nature vs. nurture question to new heights, and while viscerally powerful, it's tough to watch.  "Contraband," led by Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale, is from Working Title, which means it's smarter than your average suspense thriller, which isn't saying much. HBO Films doc "Sing Your Song" (limited) may not have any Oscar buzz or big-budget action, but the story of singer, actor and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte is sitting pretty with a 100% Tomatometer rating. ThePlaylist calls it "fascinating."

"The Iron Lady" The Weinstein Co., UK/FR | Director: Phyllida Lloyd; Cast: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent | 56% Tomatometer | TOH! Review Round-up: Will The Iron Lady's Nasty Reviews Hurt Meryl Streep at the Oscars? | Roger Ebert: "You have to be very talented to work with Meryl Streep. It also helps to know how to use her. 'The Iron Lady' fails in both of these categories." | Peter Travers: "One can only marvel at [Streep's] virtuoso performance as Britain's Margaret Thatcher in 'The Iron Lady.'"

"Contraband" Universal, USA | Director: Baltasar Karmakur; Cast" Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster | 59% Tomatometer | Michael Phillips: "Wahlberg has the presence, the glower and the laconic line readings to guide us through a mess of pain, painlessly." | Todd McCarthy: "The gritty style only accentuates the increasingly far-fetched dramatics in Contraband, an involving, atmospherically grungy mid-register thriller."

"We Need To Talk About Kevin" Oscilloscope, UK/US | Director: Lynne Ramsay; Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller | 83% Tomatometer | TOH! Interviews Ramsay & Swinton | Kenneth Turan: "It's a domestic horror story that literally gets to us where we live, a disturbing tale told with uncompromising emotionality and great skill by filmmaker Lynne Ramsay." | A.O. Scott: "Ms. Ramsay, with ruthless ingenuity, creates a deeper dread and a more acute feeling of anticipation by allowing us to think we know what is coming and then shocking us with the extent of our ignorance."

"Sing Your Song" HBO Films, US | Director: Susanne Rostock | 100% Tomatometer | John Anderson: "'Sing Your Song' does three things only a superior bio-doc can do: Tell a stirring life story, place that life in the context of its times, and portray it with the kind of depth and breadth that makes you wonder why it hasn't been told before."

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1 Comment

  • alluh | January 12, 2012 7:12 PMReply

    i have been reading the reviews of "the iron lady" and many of them i found to be full of nothing else but vitriol for the character she was portraying and most unfairly, for meryl streep herself. a lot of these came from men and a few women who i analyze must have started film criticism during the digital age or are those who grew up on pauline kael's downright dismissal of meryl streep. maybe the younger set of reviewers adhere to a different mode of acting standard --- the so-called "subtle, nuanced"-type that actors of their generation adopt but becomes so tiresome and dull if used by the same actor in different movies.

    e.g. http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/articles/2012/01/13/movie_review_maggie_thatcher_meets_meryl_streep_in_the_iron_lady/

    what i saw onscreen was a phenomenal performance, truly a masterclass in acting. meryl streep fully embodied margaret thatcher or our idea of her. the film may have its flaws, but many of those expressed in the gathering of reviews about it are less about the film itself but more about thatcher and streep, both directly and indirectly mired in an unfortunate and confused interchange of very personal feelings of these reviewers about either person.

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