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Weekend Preview: Apted's '56 Up' and 'The Impossible' Best Bets, 'Promised Land' Leaves Critics Divided

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood January 4, 2013 at 1:20PM

This weekend sees the wide releases of J.A. Bayona's well-received, heart-tugging tsunami drama "The Impossible," starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, and of Gus Van Sant's divisive fracking drama "Promised Land," starring co-screenwriters Matt Damon and John Krasinski.
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"56 Up"
"56 Up"
This weekend sees the wide releases of J.A. Bayona's well-received, heart-tugging tsunami drama "The Impossible," starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, and of Gus Van Sant's divisive fracking drama "Promised Land," starring co-screenwriters Matt Damon and John Krasinski. Michael Apted's "56 Up," the most recent installment in his documentary series following Brit everypeople from age seven onwards, is getting glowing reviews from critics, while Kelly Anderson's gentrification examination "My Brooklyn" is also sitting well on the Tomatometer. Spare yourself from "Texas Chainsaw 3D."

"The Impossible" Dir. Juan Antonio Bayona, Spain | Summit | Cast: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland | 79% Fresh | Time: "I hesitate to use this term, since it is so often equated with hokey, but The Impossible is life-affirming." | TOH! Interviews Watts and McGregor.

"Promised Land" Dir. Gus Van Sant, USA | Focus Features | Cast: Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, Hal Holbrook, John Krasinski | 48% Rotten | The Hollywood Reporter: "Promised Land presents its environmental concerns in a clear, upfront manner but hits some narrative and character bumps in the second half that weaken the impact of this fundamentally gentle, sympathetic work." | Our review roundup.

"56 Up" Dir. Michael Apted, UK | First Run Features | 100% Fresh | The New York Times: "Life rushes by so fast, it flickers today and is gone tomorrow. In 56 Up - the latest installment in Michael Apted's remarkable documentary project that has followed a group of Britons since 1964, starting when they were 7 - entire lifetimes race by with a few edits."

"My Brooklyn" Dir. Kelly Anderson, USA | "DIA" Productions GmbH & Co., KG | 100% Fresh | Variety: "Filled with colorful, articulate neighborhood champions, this absorbing picture eschews militant outrage for a quietly devastating look at social commodification."

"Texas Chainsaw 3D" Dir. John Luessenhop, USA | "DIA" Productions GmbH & Co., KG | Cast: Dan Yeager, Alexandra Daddario, Tania Raymonde, Tremaine Neverson, Scott Eastwood | 44% Rotten | New York Daily News: "'Texas Chainsaw 3D' sees itself as over-the-top and knowing, but what we ultimately get is simply eyes without a face."

This article is related to: Reviews, Weekend Preview, The Impossible, Promised Land, 56 Up, Trailers, Trailers, Reviews


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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.