Friday, April 04, 2008

Movies opening this week

Leatherheads (George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski, dir. George Clooney)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Despite being mildly amusing and overall fairly pleasant to watch, this movie was nevertheless disappointing given how much potential it had. Clooney can definitely pull off screwball comedy and old-fashioned suaveness as an actor, and Zellweger is one of those actresses who looks more at home in period pieces than she does in modern dress. The previews looked funny, but there's not nearly as much zip and life to this movie as there should be. Maybe if one of the other directors who'd been attached to the script in the 16 years (!) since it was written had been behind the camera, it would have turned out to be more than mediocre. Wide release

The Ruins (Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Shawn Ashmore, Laura Ramsey, dir. Carter Smith)
So here's another horror movie withheld from critics until the night before it opens, with pretty young stars getting killed in an exotic location, and naturally I assumed it would be lame. But despite the mostly negative reviews that have come in, I found this to be a pretty damn effective horror film. Granted, the characters are fairly one-dimensional and underdeveloped, but the acting is decent and makes up for some of those shortcomings. And it's not about tourists getting tortured by unsavory locals like in Hostel or Turistas - instead they're trapped in the titular ruins with a sort of evil plant, which sounds hokey but actually turns out to be rather scary. The movie is intense and pretty relentless once it starts up, and fairly bleak in its outlook. There are some gory gross-out moments, but always in service of the story, and they're not used gratuitously. And the plot is not entirely predictable, although the ending cops out from what apparently happened in the book in favor of a more typical horror-movie finale. Still, it's a damn sight better than yet another movie about a stringy-haired ghost girl, and it was a pleasantly unpleasant surprise. Wide release

The Witnesses (Emmanuelle Béart, Sami Bouajila, Johan Libéreau, Michel Blanc, dir. André Téchiné)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I haven't actually seen any of Téchiné's other films, but apparently this kind of lyrical human drama is his specialty. This struck me as a minor work, but it had its moments, and Béart gives a very good performance. Opened limited Jan. 18; in Las Vegas this week

No comments: