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Weekend Preview: From Artful 'Beyond the Hills' to Mainstream 'Oz'

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood March 8, 2013 at 3:12PM

Cristian Mungiu's brilliantly slow-to-burn "Beyond the Hills" (which people might start referring to as "the Romanian exorcism movie") opens this weekend, with critics appropriately impressed with the Cannes winner; leads Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan both won Best Actress at the fest last May.
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"Beyond the Hills"
"Beyond the Hills"

Cristian Mungiu's brilliantly slow-to-burn "Beyond the Hills" (which people might start referring to as "the Romanian exorcism movie") opens this weekend, with critics appropriately impressed with the Cannes winner; leads Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan both won Best Actress at the fest last May. 

In the land of wide releases, Sam Raimi's overstuffed 3-D buffet "Oz the Great and Powerful" is getting middling reviews (TOH! liked it a tad better than the majority). Stylishly twisty Euro-pudding thriller "Dead Man Down," the first English-language film by "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" director Niels Arden Oplev, isn't getting much critical love, even though it's charmingly unpredictable thanks to a pleasing cast led by original Lisbeth Salander Noomi Rapace, Colin Farrell and Isabelle Huppert.

"Electrick Children," Rebecca Thomas' coming-of-age tale about a devoutly religious girl who believes rock music has impregnated her, is getting good reviews, while World War II drama "Emperor," starring Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones as U.S. generals dealing with Japan, is not.

Electrick Children Dir. Rebecca Thomas, USA | Phase 4 Films | Cast: Julia Garner, Rory Culkin, Billy Zane, Liam Aiken, Bill Sage, Cynthia M. Watros | 85% Fresh | Empire: "An interesting and catchy take on a traditional tale of repressed teenage rebellion."

Beyond the Hills
Dir. Cristian Mungiu, Romania | Sundance Selects | Cast: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valerieu Andriuta, Dana Tapalaga | 82% Fresh | New York Times: Even as Mr. Mungiu maintains a detached, objective point of view, allowing the details of the story to speak for themselves, he also allows you to glimpse the complex and volatile inner lives of his characters." | Our TOH! interview with Mungiu and review

Oz the Great and Powerful Dir. Sam Raimi, USA | Disney | Cast: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Zach Brach, Joey King | 57% Rotten | Chicago Sun-Times: "Some of the surprises in Oz the Great and Powerful, the much-anticipated "Wizard of Oz" origins movie, are delightful. Others, however, sink the movie just below the point of recommendation, with the primary drawback falling on the lovely shoulders of Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis, as early versions of Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West, respectively." | Our VFX feature and TOH! review

Dead Man Down Dir. Niels Arden Oplev, USA | FilmDistrict | Cast: Noomi Rapace, Colin Farrell, Isabelle Huppert, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard | 41% Rotten | Los Angeles Times: "With so many twists, the movie feels like it's trying too hard. Some moments are cleverly constructed; and others seem as if the filmmakers have left themselves no plausible escape." | Our TOH! interview with Noomi Rapace

Emperor Dir. Peter Webber, USA | Lionsgate | Cast: Matthew Fox, Tommy Lee Jones, Eriko Hatsune | 32% Rotten | New York Post: "“Let’s show ’em some good old-fashioned American swagger,’’ MacArthur says on his arrival in Tokyo. It’s too bad director Webber and the screenwriters, David Klass and Vera Blasi, didn’t take his advice to heart instead of largely wasting Jones and some very nice period details."


This article is related to: Reviews, Reviews, Beyond The Hills, Oz The Great And Powerful, Electrick Children, Dead Man Down, 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.