From disaster in Earth orbit to death in the Himalayas, to gunshots in Dallas, this week's top new movies serve up some pretty tough meat. Luckily there's at least one new comedy to lighten things up.
The New Stuff:
Stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are fine and the film's visual recreation of a space voyage is breathtaking (especially in 3-D), but co-writer/director Alfonso Cuaron should have launched with a decent script. FULL REVIEW
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Where were you when JFK was shot? This docudrama follows a slew of Dallas folks-famous and infamous-on that fateful day. Marcia Gay Harden and Zac Efron play staff at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where the President was rushed; Paul Giamatti is Abraham Zapruder, creator of the most famous home movie of all time; Jacki Weaver plays the mother of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
In 2008, on one of the most deadly days in mountain climbing history, 11 adventurers died on the slopes of K2, considered by many to be the world's most dangerous peak. Using the team's own videos and new footage, director Nick Ryan takes us along on one harrowing hike.
It stands for "Adult Children of Divorce," and in this comedy Adam Scott ( Parks and Recreation) is at peace with his parents' long-ago bust-up-until he decides to reunite them for his brother's wedding. Richard Jenkins and Catherine O'Hara play the split Mom and Dad; Jane Lynch nearly steals the show as a researcher who wants to make the whole family a case study for her new book.
Someone's going to win a new Roku Streaming Digital Projector on the Movies for Grownups YouTube show this week. It might as well be you!
Still Out There . . .
If you're an actress, get yourself directed by Woody Allen: Here he casts Cate Blanchett as a latter-day Blanche DuBois, depending on the kindness of strangers in San Francisco. Smart, tragic, and funny, it's Woody and Cate at their best. FULL REVIEW
Writer/director Joseph Gordon-Levitt also stars, but see the story of Jon, a guy whose addiction to online porn is ruining his real-life relationships, for the superb supporting grownups, including Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, and Glenne Headly. Unfortunately, the film seems a tad too comfortable wallowing in the sexual excesses of the Web. FULL REVIEW
Neither comedy nor nail-biting action flick, this story of a mobster and his family relocated to France under the Witness Protection Program catches stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer in the crossfire. Director Luc Besson seems to be going for something new: cruel whimsy. As the French would say, c'est tres terrible. FULL REVIEW
Lee Daniels' The Butler
The title might have worked better as Forest Whitaker Is the Butler, or maybe Oprah Winfrey Is the Wife of the Butler. No matter; audiences are flocking to see Whitaker as White House butler Cecil Gaines, Robin Williams as President Eisenhower, and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. FULL REVIEW
Metallica Through the Never
If Boomers don't turn out for this extended music video from the quintessential '80s Heavy Metal band, who will? Go for the music, stay for Kirk Hammett's hair.
One Direction: This is Us
This movie puts you in the place of your parents, rolling their eyes as they accompanied you to a matinee of " A Hard Day's Night." The British boy band One Direction will never be another Fab Four, but they are the hottest thing on the planet right now, so if your kids or grandkids need a grownup companion for this concert/documentary flick, feel free to volunteer for 90 minutes of harmless, well-scrubbed pop.
A by-the-numbers plot ultimately foils this would-be thriller, but there's still some fun to be had in watching Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford (in a skull-baring buzz cut!) go mano a mano as big business rivals.
This gritty crime drama stars Hugh Jackman as a distraught Georgia dad who kidnaps the guy he believes abducted his 6-year-old daughter. It's the old vigilante dad story, all right, but get a load of the rest of the cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, and Paul Dano.
Director David Twohy ( The Fugitive) has helmed all three Riddick movies, starring Vin Diesel as the gravel-voiced interplanetary convict/adventurer. Here we go again with Riddick, well into middle age, still kicking butt like a muscle-bound, bald-pated pro.
Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl are great fun as James Hunt and Niki Lauda, rival kings of Formula 1 racing in the 1970s. Ron Howard, who cut his directing teeth with Grand Theft Auto in 1977, seems right at home depicting the brutal beauty of high-octane racing.
Almost everyone has to read The Catcher in the Rye in high school, and in 1965 all those kids buying all those books enabled its author, J.D. Salinger, to retire to his New Hampshire home and hide from view for the rest of his life. This documentary studies the enigma of Salinger - and the obsession of those who insisted on following him into his solitude. FULL REVIEW
James Cromwell ( Babe, L.A. Confidential, The Artist) gives the performance of a lifetime as an 87-year-old man who builds a small house for his ailing wife (a radiant Genevieve Bujold) with his own two hands. That is, until local bureaucrats start butting in. FULL REVIEW
The Ultimate Life
Director Michael Landon Jr. continues the story begun in the successful 2006 film The Ultimate Gift. Sadly, the original's James Garner is absent, but there is a fine grownup cast on hand nevertheless, including Peter Fonda, Bill Cobbs, and Lee Meriwether.
The Way, Way Back
It's a coming-of-age comedy starring Liam James as a confused 14-year-old kid, but he's surrounded by one of the great grownup casts of the year: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, and Sam Rockwell.
We Are What We Are
Director Jim Mickle's gothic tale of a family steeped in secret cannibalism is one harrowing voyage, save for one bright spot: As a sweet-natured neighbor, the rarely seen Kelly McGillis brings a measure of pleasant humanity to the family's otherwise impenetrable darkness.
Also of Interest
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- 7 Museums for the Curious Traveler
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