It's like Oscar night all over again! We have one loser and one winner: which is which?
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
The film snatched two Oscars, one expected (Mo'Nique for best supporting actress), one not (best screenplay adaptation, which was assumed to belong to Up in the Air). Our own Eric D. Snider identified the challenge and held out a hope: "The premise of Precious is so unsettling and bleak that no one would blame you if you didn't want to see it. ... That feeling of hopefulness, not the awfulness that precedes it, is what you'll take with you when the film is over." Rent it.
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Up in the Air
Jason Reitman's character drama walked away empty-handed after earning nominations for George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, and Reitman himself. Clooney plays a frequent-flying 'termination agent,' firing flocks of people from corporations that don't want to do the dirty deeds themselves. Kendrick is the new kid on the firing block, proposing to save money by inhuman means, and Farmiga is the fellow foxy frequent flyer who appears to share Clooney's commitment-phobic allergies.
While not without its moments, it leans heavily on portraying single, childless people as lonely, hollow bastards, while celebrating the joys of marriage and family. Trouble is, none of the families or relationships portrayed are anything close to joyful, so the argument falls flat on its self-righteous face. And it manages to smugly trivialize the consequences of the Great Recession along the way. Rent it if you're single, unemployed and masochistic, or married, currently employed and sadistic.
After the jump: saints, dogs, cartoons, capitalists, and a stoning.
The Boondock Saints: All Saints Day
The sequel to the cult favorite picks up ten years later. Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery return. Cinematical's Jenni Miller says she was "disappointed by the sequel, even though it's not that bad. It's just not that good, either." If you's a huge Saints fan, please don't shoot me, but: Skip it.
What could have been a cute idea goes nowhere: an American astronaut lands on a distant planet that looks very much like a hodgepodge of America in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. The aliens are sploshy in appearance but, unfortunately, the humor is just as soft, barely generating enough silliness to keep even the least demanding audiences engaged. Skip it.
John Travolta and Robin Williams star as two bachelors who must suddenly care for 7-year-old twins. "Not the least bit funny, not once, not even for a minute," reports Eric D. Snider. "Imagine a season's worth of plot devices from TV's most generic sitcom crammed into 88 excruciating minutes." Skip it.
Also out: Hachi: A Dog's Tale.
Capitalism: A Love Story
Michael Moore's latest documentary focuses on the economic crisis, but seems to have faded from memory without kicking up much dust. "Admittedly, Moore's net is cast wider with this film than in previous ones," wrote Todd Gilchrist in his review for Cinematical. "As a result his focus is a little softer. But Capitalism basically examines the ways in which excessive greed and self-interest has eclipsed the ideals of our democratic state, on both sociopolitical and deeply personal levels." Rent it.
The Stoning of Soraya M
Jim Cavieziel stars as a journalist whose car breaks down in a remote Iranian village in 1986, during the time that Ayatollah Khomeini was in power. Sahebjam is approached by Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog) who tells him of a horror story that began when her niece Soraya (Mozhan Marnò) entered into an arranged marriage with a man who proved to be an abusive tyrant and ended with an innocent woman killed by a hail of stones. Craig Kennedy at Living in Cinema wrote that it's not perfect but "nevertheless has some great performances and an undeniably powerful subject matter that builds to a moving and excruciating climax." Rent it.