It was a wild week in film releases. We reviewed John Krasinski's Sundance favorite (which won't break the dysfunctional-family arc), found the final installment in the Bridget Jones saga, Bridget Jones's Baby, to be a pleasant surprise, and got spooked by an eerie Polish possession in Demon.
Here are the eight best film releases in Denver this weekend.
Have we reached consensus, seventeen years later, on whether The Blair Witch Project's grainy footage of three film students wandering into the woods was boring or terrifying? The answer might be both, with one extreme enhancing the other. Adam Wingard's sequel, which finds the brother of one of those doomed souls on an ill-advised quest to learn what befell his long-gone sister, exists somewhere in the middle: It's neither as slow nor as elementally terrifying as Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez's found-footage marvel. Continue reading.
Bridget Jones's Baby
Bridget Jones's Baby is a romantic comedy that's truly both. There's no filler in its 122 minutes, which allows the characters enough breathing room to consider their choices. At its start, our intrepid heroine (Renée Zellweger) seems back at square one: alone on an important night, consoling herself by drinking wine and singing along to "All by Myself." (Could those be the same pajama bottoms she wore in Bridget Jones's Diary?) Zellweger's voiceover strikes the familiar self-excoriating tone as Bridget reassures herself that there's always a gap between aspirations and outcome. But as much as this latest installment draws on affection for the snappy first film, which blended Absolutely Fabulous with Pride and Prejudice (sans zombies), it's the differences that make Bridget Jones's Baby the warmest and most satisfying of the series. Continue reading.
Horror has in recent years been so informed by found footage, smartphones and Skype that a trend toward folklore was probably inevitable. In Marcin Wrona's film, the mythic entity being awakened is a dybbuk, a spirit of Jewish lore that takes over the body of its host and doesn't let go. Continue reading.
The Hollars tells the familiar tale of a dysfunctional family pulled together by unfortunate circumstances. John Hollar (John Krasinski, who also directed) is a frustrated graphic novelist with a pregnant girlfriend, Rebecca (Anna Kendrick). When he gets the news that his mother, Sally (Margo Martindale), has a brain tumor, he goes out to see her, reigniting old tensions with his father, Don (Richard Jenkins), and brother, Ron (Sharlto Copley). Moments of familial bonding alternate with interludes of exasperation, and key scenes are scored to winsome folk songs. It goes without saying that it premiered at Sundance. Continue reading.
Still and silent, Jerry Lewis slumps there like old furniture in the lifeless house in which the first half of Daniel Noah's coming-of-old-age drama Max Rose molders. The film is a fiction, a tidy and improbable one, but these scenes have documentary power. Lewis' Max Rose, recently bereaved, sits and stares at nothing in particular, which affords us a rare opportunity to regard Lewis himself: Has this livest of live wires ever been so still onscreen? So resigned? His character's mind, I'm sorry to say, reels between past and present. The wife, Eva, is played by Claire Bloom, another welcome and fascinating presence, but the scenes she and Lewis share are quick and corny, memories in which the longtime couple exults in being a longtime couple, feeling just one thing at a time. Continue reading.
Depleting and clamorous, My King, the latest by Maïwenn, the mononymed maestra of emotional emesis, unwittingly imparts an obvious lesson: One person’s rakish charmer is another’s sociopath. The sovereign of the title is Georgio (Vincent Cassel), a manic restaurateur whose caprices prove magnetic to lawyer Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot). Bookended by Tony’s entrance to and exit from a physical-rehab center, where she spends several weeks recuperating from a skiing accident, My King is told mostly in flashback, as the barrister recalls, during breaks from aquatic therapy, the decline of her decade-long relationship with Georgio. Continue reading.
The People Vs. Fritz Bauer
The title of the earnest German Film Award–winning biopic The People vs. Fritz Bauer implies a trial, but the only judgment against its post-war crusader comes from the court of public opinion. Director Lars Kraume and co-screenwriter Olivier Guez depict Frankfurt's public prosecutor as a beleaguered old man whose unpopular mission to try former Nazi officials in the 1960s puts him at odds with a West German government more concerned with prosperity than history. Continue reading.
Set aside your visions of histrionic, paranoid fireworks. Oliver Stone’s whistleblower biopic Snowden finds the director in an unusually somber and controlled mood, perhaps because of the introverted, awkward nature of Edward Snowden himself. The former CIA employee and National Security Agency contractor, who in 2013 exposed the U.S. government’s global surveillance program, is played here by Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a quiet, cerebral nerd: He’s not cut out for the Army or for ground-level espionage, but comes into his own when he’s at a keyboard. Continue reading.