Friday, January 12, 2007

Movies opening this week

Alpha Dog (Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Anton Yelchin, Ben Foster, dir. Nick Cassavetes)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This is a really frustrating movie, because the true story that it's based on is actually quite interesting, and Cassavetes seems to have something worthwhile to say about it, which occasionally comes through. But he's unfortunately more interested in distracting split-screen effects and his lame device of "interviews" with characters from four years after the main events of the movie (which gives us Sharon Stone in an unbelievably hideous fat suit). At the screening I went to, the audience laughed every time Timberlake opened his mouth for at least the first half-hour of the movie, and subsequently laughed at a bunch of things that weren't meant to be funny. This movie is like the tough guy making all sorts of threats who doesn't know how ridiculous he really is. Wide release

Candy (Heath Ledger, Abbie Cornish, Geoffrey Rush, dir. Neil Armfield)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This isn't exactly the big follow-up to Brokeback Mountain that you'd expect from Ledger, although he's quite good in it. Actually, I'm surprised this movie hasn't gotten more attention - it's mediocre, but Ledger has a high profile now, and Cornish is an up-and-coming star (and is good here as well). Maybe the subject matter is too much of a downer, or the reviews aren't strong enough. Oh well - no one is missing much here, although both actors should continue to do strong work in the future. Opened limited Nov. 17; in Las Vegas this week

The Painted Veil (Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Toby Jones, Liev Schreiber, dir. John Curran)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I was surprised at how much I liked this movie. These prestige period pieces are usually really boring, but even though this had the standard classy scenery and costume design and upper-crust accents, I thought there was a lot to it, and Watts' excellent performance elevated the movie beyond its potential to be boring and overly restrained. If I had seen this before voting on year-end awards, I would definitely have added Watts to my Best Actress list (along with Ashley Judd in Come Early Morning, which I saw yesterday and which opens in Vegas next week), and I might even have put this movie near the bottom of my top 10. Individual elements don't always seem that powerful, but it all adds up to something rather moving. Opened limited Dec. 29; in Las Vegas this week

Also opening this week: CineVegas starts programming its indie-film series at the Tropicana Cinemas, which I wrote about in LVW here. I really hope people check these screenings out and support interesting movies in Vegas (more info is here). I haven't yet seen this week's openings - I'm going to one of the showings tonight of Sleeping Dogs Lie with Bobcat Goldthwait in attendance for a Q&A, and I've got a screener of Sherrybaby at home that I plan to watch. I'm excited about virtually everything else they've got coming up in this series, so I'd love to see it succeed and continue.

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