Friday, November 02, 2007

Movies opening this week

American Gangster (Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Josh Brolin, Chiwetel Ejiofor, dir. Ridley Scott)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This epic fairly screams Oscar, and while I don't think it's phenomenal I wouldn't be opposed to seeing it rack up some end-of-year awards. It's the kind of middlebrow prestige fare that I can get behind; it's ambitious and serious and generally non-pandering, and it's got good actors who aren't going overboard on the emotions to attract attention. It's derivative of plenty of things that came before it, but not in an insulting way, and it kept my attention for 160 minutes, so that's saying something. If this is our default Best Picture front-runner at this point, I'm okay with that. Wide release

Bee Movie (Voices of Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, dir. Steve Hickner and Simon J. Smith)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
My appreciation for Jerry Seinfeld has been somewhat tempered by the nonstop Seinfeld repeats that have diluted the power of his humor, but I do still think that his sitcom was mostly genius. Still, it's been a long time since he's put any effort into anything, and this movie is about as clever as his Superman short films/American Express commercials. Which is to say, not very. I don't know if semi-retirement or insane wealth have made him soft, or if he's just not all that funny anymore, but this movie had possibly fewer laughs than Over the Hedge, and a less coherent plot. Wide release

Wristcutters: A Love Story (Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Shea Whigham, dir. Goran Dukic)
I've been reading about this movie for a long time now, as it's been looking for a home since its 2006 Sundance premiere. It sounded promising back then, and I was looking forward to finally seeing it. It turns out to be a fairly conventional but entertaining love story, one that doesn't do quite as much with its unique setting (an afterlife populated solely by people who committed suicide) as one would hope. Although the central plot is a little weak, there are a lot of fun touches around the edges, including small roles for the likes of Tom Waits, Will Arnett and Jake Busey. Fugit and Sossamon are charming as the romantic leads, and the ending is unexpectedly sweet and upbeat. For a movie so superficially dark, it's actually quite heartwarming. Opened limited Oct. 19; in Las Vegas this week

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