Friday, March 06, 2009

Movies opening this week

Hear me chat about these movies (mostly just Watchmen) with Jay Bosworth of Maximum Comics on this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast. Also, as if reviewing movies in print, online, on the radio and in podcasts weren't enough, I'm now doing weekly video segments as well, which are online now and will eventually (hopefully) be part of a TV-show launch by Las Vegas Weekly's parent company in a few months. Check out the first one (about Watchmen) here. Feedback encouraged (it's my second time on camera, ever).

Two Lovers (Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw, dir. James Gray)
I haven't seen Gray's earliest films, but when watching We Own the Night I got the distinct impression that he was more interested in family dynamics than in cop drama, so I suppose it makes sense that he's finally dropped the crime stuff and made a movie that's all about relationships. Like We Own the Night, this movie is definitely plodding and awkward at times, and a touch melodramatic. But it's buoyed by strong performances - Phoenix (in his allegedly final role) does the insecure, needy codependent well, and Paltrow, who's known more these days for being famous than for being an actress, proves that she still has the skill to embody a real person. Both of their characters are essentially selfish and unlikeable, but the story manages to engage nonetheless, building a sort of sick, depressing inevitability to it as it reaches the end. (It's the first movie in the relaunched CineVegas arthouse series, now at the Brenden Theatres at the Palms, which always brings interesting movies to town. I'm glad to see it returning, and now at a theater that people actually go to.) Opened limited February 13; in Las Vegas this week

Watchmen (Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, dir. Zack Snyder)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I'm definitely already feeling Watchmen overload, and there isn't much to say beyond what I said in my review. I feel like I'm coming at this from an in-between place; I'm not some overexcited fanboy just hyped up by the fact the movie exists, but I'm not unfamiliar with the comics medium like a number of mainstream critics seem to be (Anthony Lane's snide, willfully ignorant dismissal of the movie and pretty much the entirety of comic books is especially unforgivable). I love the original graphic novel, and I would have loved to see a great movie version of it. I give Snyder credit for trying, but he was probably doomed from the start, and the slavishly faithful approach doesn't make for a satisfying movie. At least this might spur more people to read the original. Wide release

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