Be on the lookout for a few can't-miss films this weekend. Zachary Heinzerling's Sundance documentary "Cutie and the Boxer," on famed Japenese artist couple Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, is receiving rave reviews for its humorous yet unsentimental portrayal of the creative passion that still burns late in life.
David Lowery's slow-burn, Magic Hour-drenched Western, "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," stars a very good Rooney Mara, Ben Foster and Casey Affleck at the center of a love triangle in 1970s Texas. A past heist gone wrong has sent Affleck to jail, though he's determined to return to Mara and their young child he's never met. As they did out of Sundance, critics are still very positive on this film.
TOH! will warn you to get out your hankies for "Lee Daniels' The Butler," the uplifting biopic of a black butler (played by Forest Whitaker) who begins his life on a cotton-picking plantation and goes on to serve eight terms of US presidents. Critics find the overt sentimentality and earnestness of the film winning.
Jerusha Hess' "Austenland" is sitting with a 46% Rotten on the Tomatometer (dominated by male critics), though the film isn't deserving of such a low grade. Starring Keri Russell as a Jane Austen obsessive who spends her life's savings on a Regency-era resort in homage to the beloved author, the film is a fairly standard romantic comedy, though it has some smart messages about the easily blurred line between fantasy and reality -- a line fangirls and fanboys of all varieties are too willing to ignore.
"Jobs" isn't living up to the visionary subject at its center, Steve Jobs (played by Ashton Kutcher). The film has low reviews from critics, with Indiewire citing the film's insistence on painting an overly positive and one-note portrait of the Apple creator.
And "Kick-Ass 2" is getting its ass kicked by reviewers.
Cutie and the Boxer Dir. Zachary Heinzerling, USA | RADiUS-TWC | Cast: Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara | 93% Fresh | The Hollywood Reporter: "Because Cutie and Boxer resists easy sentimentality, its
view of life and love is all the more powerful." | Our TOH! interview with director Zachary Heinzerling
Ain't Them Bodies Saints Dir. David Lowery, USA | IFC Films | Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Keith Carradine | 79% Fresh | Variety: "Slow as molasses but every bit as rich." | Our TOH! interview with David Lowery
Lee Daniels' The Butler Dir. Lee Daniels, USA | Weinstein Company | Cast: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyewolo, Cuba Gooding Jr., Robin Williams, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard, Liev Schreiber | 79% Fresh | Entertainment Weekly: "As Cecil, Whitaker is mesmerizing. The actor seems to shrink into his imposing frame, summoning a performance of quiet, bottled-up force." | Our TOH! review and roundup
Austenland Dir, Jerusha Hess, USA | Sony Pictures Classics | Cast: Keri Russell, Bret McKenzie, JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour | 46% Rotten | The Guardian: "It is smart and surprisingly literate, its only downfall
being in that, in riffing on the work of a very talented writer on the subject
of men and women, its screenplay could have used a little more of Jane Austen's
immaculate sense of storytelling." | Our TOH! interview with Keri Russell
Jobs Dir. Joshua Michael Stern, USA | Open Road Films | Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, J.K. Simmons, James Woods, Josh Gad, Lesley Ann Warren, Lukas Haas, Matthew Modine | 41% Rotten | Indiewire: "The movie is constantly at war with attempts to provide an honest portrayal, almost as if its subject were reaching beyond the grave to steer any negativity back in the direction of a hagiography."
Kick-Ass 2 Dir. Jeff Wadlow, USA | Universal | Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Maretz, Jim Carrey | 36% Rotten | Slant Magazine: "The film doubles down on the love-hate relationship with ultra-violence that typified its predecessor, but A History of Violence this is not."