Friday, September 07, 2007

Movies opening this week

3:10 to Yuma (Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Logan Lerman, Ben Foster, dir. James Mangold)
I haven't seen the 1957 original, so I can't comment on how this compares, but on its own it's a sturdy, entertaining Western that doesn't go for any fancy reinvention. Although the ending doesn't entirely make sense, this is otherwise consistently exciting and well-acted, with Crowe getting into his bad-guy role, and Foster offering up a very good, very evil supporting performance (which didn't strike me as homophobic, but here's an interesting disagreement). Westerns for some reason often get positioned as awards contenders these days, and I think that's what Lionsgate is trying to do here to some extent, but I was glad that Mangold didn't seem to be trying too hard to make a big statement or tell an epic story. He's just made a solid genre movie, which is exactly what this rarely attempted genre needs. Wide release

The Brothers Solomon (Will Forte, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, dir. Bob Odenkirk)
I don't know why I went to see this movie, which I didn't have to review, but I guess for some reason I thought it would be funny. It was instead painfully unfunny, a thin concept stretched barely to feature length, with annoying performances, sloppy writing and a cheap, ugly look that made it seem all the more like a sketch gone awry. I know people love Arnett from his days on Arrested Development (which I only watched a handful of times), but in everything I've seen him in he's playing the same smarmy, overenthusiastic character, and I don't think he's bearable for more than a few minutes onscreen. This movie makes Balls of Fury look like the funniest, most sophisticated comedy of the year. Wide release

Hatchet (Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Mercedes McNab, dir. Adam Green)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
People who aren't fond of cheesy, trashy horror movies will probably have no patience for this, but I found it entertaining enough, and refreshing for its honestly simple ambitions. I'll probably forget it in a week or two, but coming right on the heels of the overdetermined Halloween remake, it was a nice change of pace. Limited release

Shoot 'Em Up (Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, dir. Michael Davis)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
It's disappointing that this really distasteful movie is getting positive reviews of the "it's just mindless fun" variety, since it seems to have such contempt for its audience. At least something like Crank was visually inventive and had a clever sense of humor even as it ran out of steam after an hour and exhibited some disturbing sexism. This film has all those negatives without the positives, with poorly shot action and lame one-liners that display almost no effort at all. Sad to think that action junkies will happily pay to be insulted at the movies this weekend. Wide release

Them (Olivia Bonamy, Michael Cohen, dir. David Moreau and Xavier Palud)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Another simple horror movie with small ambitions, although it didn't work as well for me as Hatchet. In one way, its ambitions are too small - the characters aren't really fleshed out, so it's hard to care about what happens to them - and in another way they are too big, with an ending that tries to make a statement about society but falls short. Still, I think horror fans will probably mostly dig this one as well, and better to check this out than the odious Shoot 'Em Up. Opened limited Aug. 17; in Las Vegas this week

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