Movies for Grownups Weekend Preview March 14

mfg_logo_68x80.imgcache.rev1292446234493The Grand Budapest Hotel gets a wider release this week. We also recommend Le Week-end, a poignant look at a long-married couple, Nick and Meg (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan), returning to the scene of their Paris honeymoon in a bid to recapture a bit of the magic of their early years together. This small, quiet, lethal film is hardly the lighthearted rom-com its ads dangle before you – it’s much better than that. FULL REVIEW

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The Grand Budapest Hotel
No filmmaker has a more fierce following than Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom). But if you’ve been on the fence (or clear on the other side of it) regarding Anderson, this may be the film that makes a believer of you. A dazzling vision of Europe between the wars serves as the backdrop for a dizzy story about a grand hotel concierge (Ralph Fiennes), the lobby boy he takes under his wing (Tony Revolori) and their unwitting involvement in a murder mystery. FULL REVIEW

 

Still Out There . . .

12 Years a Slave
Oscar Winner: Best Picture
Chiwetel Ejiofor, as a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery, leads a powerful cast. Movies from Roots to Django Unchained have shown us the evils of slavery; 12 Years a Slave makes us feel the lash. FULL REVIEW

American Hustle
You won’t have more fun at the movies than you’ll find here with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Louis C.K. and Jennifer Lawrence as assorted con artists and Feds conspiring to bring down crooked politicians. Though the film is based on the 1980s Abscam scandal, but we have a feeling that writer/director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) made up the more hilarious stuff. FULL REVIEW

Dallas Buyers Club
Nominated for 6 Oscars
At the height of the 1980s AIDS epidemic, a tough heterosexual Texas electrician (Matthew McConaughey) gets the dreaded diagnosis – then sets up a lucrative business smuggling alternative anti-AIDS drugs into the state. McConaughey, who has been rising from beefcake idol to accomplished actor, may nab his first Oscar nomination for his compelling performance.

Frozen
Nominated for 2 Oscars (plus 1 nomination for Get a Horse!)
By now the animation wizards at Disney have this spunky-young-woman-defeats-evil thing down pat, but the real reason to duck into this film is the Oscar-nominated cartoon short that precedes it. Get a Horse! is a hand-drawn Mickey Mouse cartoon done in early Disney style (think Steamboat Willie). While you savor that, the grandkids will love the main feature.

The Face of Love
A widow, still grieving after five years, stumbles across a guy who looks exactly like her dead husband – and becomes obsessed with re-creating her old life with him. It starts out like a Vertigo rehash – Annette Bening standing in for Jimmy Stewart and Ed Harris for Kim Novak – but the stars make hay of the warmed-over premise. Bening, in particular, is touching as a woman who senses her obsession may be hijacking her good sense, but she’s unable – and a bit unwilling – to seize back control.

The Lego Movie
There’s a lot more for grownups here than you’d expect: Packed with gags and clever toy-world references, it’s the story of a nondescript LEGO minifigure (voiced by Craig Berry) saving his world from an evil villain (Will Ferrell) who wants to (gasp!) glue all the blocks together, stifling creativity forever. Written and directed by a bunch of guys from TV Sitcomville (How I Met Your Mother, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), it’s fast, funny and feel-good.

The Monuments Men
George Clooney enlists Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and Cate Blanchett to help him patrol Nazi-occupied Europe in search of stolen art works. A greater sense of urgency would have helped push the plot along, but what’s more fun than hanging out with George and his buds for two hours? It’s based on a true story and Clooney, natty in his U.S. Army officer’s uniform, looks more Clark Gable-like than ever. FULL REVIEW

Mr. Peabody & Sherman
This Dreamworks update lacks the anarchic wackiness of Jay Ward’s 1960s TV series, but it does celebrate the show’s delightful alternative takes on history while adding an element of warmth to the relationship between a dog and his boy. The voice work is first-rate, with Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell stepping in admirably as Peabody. Listen for Stanley Tucci as Leonardo da Vinci and Mel Brooks as – who else? – Albert Einstein.

Non-Stop
Liam Neeson should fire his travel agent – and possibly his Hollywood agent as well – for this missed connection: He plays an alcoholic air marshal who gets a mid-flight text (really?) warning him that passengers aboard will start dying if he doesn’t arrange for $150 million to be deposited into a bank account pronto. The suspects are as numerous as the plot holes. Neeson, though he tries hard, seems to be losing interest in this action-hero phase of his illustrious career. FULL REVIEW

Pompeii
On the list of four writers who concocted this epic story of slaves and gladiators battling one another and a certain nearby volcano is Julian Fellowes, creator of the decidedly more staid Downton Abbey. Go for the human drama, if you like; the rest of us will be there to watch Mount Vesuvius turn Rome’s exotic port city into the original Lava Lamp.

Son of God
Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (she also plays Mother Mary) have edited down their epic TV series The Bible to tell the story of Jesus, and it looks mighty good on the big screen. Jesus is played with easy charm and frequent intensity by Diogo Morgado, who in a century of film is probably the most convincing guy ever to tackle the role – you can actually imagine 5,000 folks schlepping out to the desert to hear him speak.

3 Days to Kill
Here’s a fun thriller romp – Kevin Costner’s successful bid to supercharge his career at midlife by starring in an over-the-top chase flick – wrapped around another, far less boffo film centered on a blonde, leather-clad CIA operative (Amber Heard) who must go to Paris to kill a baddie named The Wolf. Watch it for that first movie – and for its comic scenes (intentional, we hope) of Costner dispatching henchmen while counseling his teenage daughter, via cell phone, on hair styles and dating options. FULL REVIEW

The Wind Rises
Nominated for 1 Oscar
Some of the most beautiful films ever made have come from the pen of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. This one, reportedly his last, may be the most stunning of them all – but not just for its visual magic. Whereas most Miyazaki classics (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle) have featured plucky youngsters and fantastic creatures, this time he tells the story of a very real person: Jiro Horikoshi, who developed Japan’s revolutionary fighter planes before World War II. In following Horikoshi from childhood to first love to professional challenge, Miyazaki taps into real sentiments of passion, ambition and regret in ways he never has before. FULL REVIEW

The Wolf of Wall Street
Nominated for 5 Oscars
Teaming for the fifth time with Leonardo DiCaprio, director Martin Scorsese lets loose a cannonade of  sex, drugs and no-holds-barred avarice in telling the mostly true story of a New York stockbroker who made an outrageous fortune by swindling investors in the 1980s and ’90s. Like his central character, Scorsese once again proves that nothing succeeds like excess. FULL REVIEW

 

Also of Interest

 

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