Friday, September 12, 2008

Movies opening this week

Hear me chat about these movies with my former Xtreme Disorder compatriot Brian Black on this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast.

Burn After Reading (Frances McDormand, George Clooney, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I love the Coens, and thus I think I had higher standards for this movie than I might have had for something by a different filmmaker. I'd say it's about midlevel for them, which is quite good for anyone else. Obviously it's much looser and less serious than No Country for Old Men, but some of the Coens' best films are the most comedic, and just because a movie is funny doesn't mean it can't be great. This movie isn't quite great, though - it's a little too unfocused and disjointed for that, and the actors are all mugging a bit too much (but having plenty of infectious fun). Still, I was entertained, and it's certainly possible that my appreciation will deepen on subsequent viewings, as it has for other Coen movies. Wide release

Righteous Kill (Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Carla Gugino, dir. Jon Avnet)
I'm a little surprised at how many people are still excited for this long-past-its-expiration-date teaming of De Niro and Pacino, which is about as anticlimactic as you could imagine such a thing to be if, say, you've completely ignored both of their careers for the last 10-15 years. Otherwise, really, this is exactly what you would expect from recent De Niro or Pacino, just combined in one movie. It's a tired, wan police thriller, with a lame twist at the end that people I've talked to have guessed just from my describing the set-up in one or two sentences. De Niro and Pacino sleepwalk through the whole thing, playing off the landmark team-up and just collecting their paychecks. They play badass characters totally at odds with their age and wear; watching De Niro bang Carla Gugino is particularly unappealing (and I love Carla Gugino). About the best thing you can say about this movie is that it's not as bad as the last Pacino/Avnet collaboration, 88 Minutes. Wide release

The Women (Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Eva Mendes, dir. Diane English)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I really like George Cukor's 1939 original, so I would have liked to say that this did it justice. But even though English totally screws it up, I don't know that a remake by a better director and with a better cast would have worked, either, without seriously altering the original's plot (or maybe setting it in the 1930s). So this movie is both doomed and incompetent, which is a deadly combination. I suppose it could have been worse; I was expecting something more horrible after all the bad buzz and delays. But it's definitely not good, and there's no reason not to just rent the original instead. Wide release

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