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Weekend Preview: 'War Witch' Bewitches, 'Stoker' a Mixed Bag, 'Jack the Giant' Not Slaying Critics

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood March 1, 2013 at 2:43PM

It's a good weekend for limited release films. Canada's Oscar-nominated foreign entry "War Witch," a harrowing yet poignant tale of a young Congolese girl's survival and first love, is scoring top marks with critics. Meanwhile, documentaries "Leviathan" and "A Place at the Table"...
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"War Witch"
"War Witch"

It's a good weekend for limited release films. Canada's Oscar-nominated foreign entry "War Witch," a harrowing yet poignant tale of a young Congolese girl's survival and first love, is scoring top marks with critics. Meanwhile, documentaries "Leviathan" and "A Place at the Table" are both gaining praise; the former turns a critical, artistic eye on the fishing industry, while the latter looks at America's hunger problem. 

Mia Wasikowska Stoker

"Stoker" is getting understandably mixed reviews -- Park Chan-wook's aesthetically gorgeous "Shadow of a Doubt" homage (and first foray into English-language films) suffers from a terrible script by Wentworth Miller and misguided performances from the film's three leads, Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode.

Wide release "Jack the Giant Slayer" isn't slaying the critics. With the film's delayed release date and murky demographic target, it may very well face a disappointing opening weekend.

War Witch Dir. Kim Nguyen, Canada | Tribeca Film | Cast: Rachel Mwanza, Serge Kinyenda | 91% Fresh | A.V. Club: "War Witch is a remarkably mature portrait that trusts its audience to have their own reactions to its material; it doesn’t yank at the heartstrings so much as expertly strum them." | Our TOH! review | Our TOH! interview with director Kim Nguyen

Leviathan Dir. Lucien Castang-Taylor, France | The Cinema Guild | 69% Fresh | Village Voice: "Plunging viewers into the thick of chaos, Leviathan explodes the antiquated paradigm of the documentary or ethnographic film, whose mission has traditionally been to educate or elucidate, to create something that seizes us, never letting us forget just how disordered the world is. This may be the greatest lesson any nonfiction film can teach us."

A Place at the Table Dir. Kristi Jacobson, USA | Magnolia Pictures | 88% Fresh | Chicago Sun-Times: "A good documentary that is good for you. The bad news is that broccoli and bananas are neither available nor affordable for many Americans. That's the message of Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush's A Place at the Table, a necessary report on the national issue of hunger."

Stoker Dir. Park Chan-wook, USA | Fox Searchlight | Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, Jacki Weaver, Alden Ehrenreich | 69% Fresh | Los Angeles Times: "The new thriller from South Korean director Park Chan-Wook is a bizarrely perverse, beautifully rendered mystery that you may or may not care to solve." | Immersed in Movies: Exclusive Video Design on Park Chan-wook's "Stoker"

Jack the Giant Slayer Dir. Bryan Singer, USA | Warner Bros. | Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Eleanor Tomlinson | 48% Rotten |  Globe and Mail: "While it’s fine for a director to explore his childhood inspirations, you hope he would bring something a bit more personal to it. Instead, Jack the Giant Slayer, while well-crafted, feels entirely generic." | Our TOH! review roundup

This article is related to: Reviews, Reviews, Stoker, War Witch (Rebelle), Jack the Giant Slayer, Leviathan, A Place At the Table, Trailers, Trailers


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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.