By ARMOND WHITE
The buddy comedy genre faces cancer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is helped through crisis by Seth Rogen. Decent emotions get cheated of depth by blithe, nonspiritual approach. Dir. Jonathan Levine.
Striking entertainment but also an emotional action movie. As a sexy, damaged assassin hunting down drug dealers to avenge her parents, Zoe Saldana gives the movie star performance of the year—a soulful, modern-day Irma Vep. Dir. Olivier Megaton.
Shameless-bordering-on-ludicrous Holocaust exploitation, as a Mossad trio brings a Nazi war criminal to justice. In flashbacks, Jessica Chastain plays the same rueful agent as Helen Mirren—a cipher out of a spy novel. Dir. John Madden.
Fake toughness, fake sentimentality, fake style infected by Michael Mann. Brooding existential stuntman and petty criminal Ryan Gosling is so laconic and cool he’s inadvertently comic. This second-rate actor occasionally drops his Steve McQueen impersonation and lets slip Mickey Rourke’s old smile. Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn.
Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life
An inventive political, cultural, ethnic defense of France’s 50s pop icon and rebel Serge Gainsbourg shows a caricaturist’s whimsy—especially in the subtext of Jewish self-consciousness, psycho-political anime effects and Eric Elmosnino’s lead performance. Laetitia Casta does a worthy, knockout Brigitte Bardot impersonation. Dir. Joann Sfar.
America’s Jim Crow history reduced to sisterhood entertainment about servants and masters. Still, the white actresses (Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard) take center screen, squeezing out the black actresses (Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer). Dir. Tate Taylor.
Midnight in Paris
Name-dropping 1920 American expatriots in Paris (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, etc.), Woody Allen takes another story about the cheating, narcissistic bourgeois (Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams) evading responsibility to each other. Don’t be fooled by the mock surrealism, this is obnoxious. Dir. Woody Allen.
A glum and smug look at professional sports martydom (Brad Pitt as Oakland As GM Billy Beane), this may be the least enjoyable baseball movie ever made. The Social Network for jocks. Dir. Bennett Miller.
Hugh Jackman’s lost father and estranged son (Dakota Goyo) come together in the near future of robot boxing—a metaphor for mankind’s displaced emotions in the digital age. This surprisingly touching footnote to producer Steven Spielberg’s A.I. is a fairytale of archetypes. Dir. Shawn Levy.
Midwest laborer (Michael Shannon) becomes unstable, sensing apocalypse in the changed wind (as Bob Dylan would put it). Political paranoia takes elemental, eschatological form driving wife (Jessica Chastain) and blue-collar buddy (Shea Whigam) to the edge. Tipping into horror movie cliché, the political tension gets unbearably overwrought. Dir. Jeff Nichols.
Rather precious but not unaffecting love story about two young gay British men (Tom Cullen as Russell and Chris New as Glen) facing the limits of attraction and commitment. An indie take on the ’70s classic Sunday Bloody Sunday. Dir. Andrew Haigh.
Week End (1967)
Capping the first phase of his career, Godard imagines the end of the bourgeois world, taking a greedy French couple (Mirelle Darc, Jean Yanne) to their logical end: cultural cannibalism. Funny, powerful, unforgettable. Dir. Jean-Luc Godard.
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