It's all about Jessica Chastain this weekend, with Andrew Muschetti's horror title "Mama" joining Oscar-nominated holdover "Zero Dark Thirty" at the box office. The modestly reviewed "Mama" is probably the best bet of the new releases. Chastain's bulked-up opponents include Arnold Schwarzenneger in "The Last Stand" (directed by Korean auteur Kim Ji-woon) and Mark Wahlberg in "Broken City"--macho films with tepid to wimpy Tomatometer scores. On the limited release circuit, both Sheldon Candis' "LUV" and Bruno Dumont's "Hors Satan" are sitting decently with critics.
"Mama" Dir. Andres Muschetti, Spain | Universal | Cast: Jessica Chastain, Isabelle Nelisse, Megan Charpentier, Nikolaj Coster Waldau | 62% Fresh | Roger Ebert: "Movies like 'Mama' are thrill rides. We go to be scared and then laugh, scared and then laugh, scared and then shocked. Of course, there's almost always a little plot left over for a sequel. It's a ride I'd take again."
"Hors Satan (Outside Satan)" Dir. Bruno Dumont, France | New Yorker Films | Cast: Alexandra Lematre, David Dewaele | 78% Fresh | The Guardian: "Devotees of Dumont's earlier films – particularly his 1999 film 'Humanity' – will instantly recognise the style, the locale, the narrative, the bizarre quasi-realism, in which events take place in a world infinitesimally different from the one we inhabit. As ever, the visionary, radioactive glow is compelling."
"The Last Stand" Dir. Ji-woon Kim, USA | Lionsgate | Cast: Arnold Schwarzenneger, Eduardo Noriega, Forest Whitaker, John Patrick Amedori, Johnny Knoxville | 58% Rotten | Austin Chronicle: "Despite his acknowledged age, creaking bones, and reduced nerve, Schwarzenegger still delivers quite a performance in this fun, straight-ahead action film."
"LUV" Dir. Sheldon Candis, USA | Indomina Releasing | Cast: Common, Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Michael Rainey Jr. | 33% Rotten | New York Times: "It does not entirely succeed, but at its best Luv shows the kind of heart and intelligence that is always welcome - and often missing - in American movies." | TOH! interview with director Sheldon Candis.
"Broken City" Dir. Allen Hughes, USA | Twentieth Century Fox | Cast: Barry Pepper, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Kyle Chandler, Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe | 23% Rotten | A.V. Club: "In spite of some punchy scenes, crackling dialogue, and fine performances, Broken City is hopelessly overmatched. It has Academy Award dreams, but a detective-show heart."