Review Revue: MOONRISE over MEN IN BLACK

Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great, but…isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum: 5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see. Simple enough, right? This week we have precocious tween lovers, some boyz in black, a bunch of radioactive Ukrainians, a wronged woman or two and a severely depressed Norwegian guy.


Synopsis: Wes Anderson returns (after 2009′s FANTASTIC MR. FOX) with a playful take on boy scouts, family and exceptionally precocious children — perhaps some Tenenbaums cousins? A lot of folks we love, like Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and oh yeah, Bill Murray, have come along for the ride.

Most typical critique: David Edelstein, New York Magazine:

True Andersonites will likely float away in a state of nirvana.

The quote not to miss: Alonso Duralde, The Wrap:

MOONRISE KINGDON often resembles a novelization of Godard’s PIERROT LE FOU as conceived by storybook artist Richard Scarry.

Should you go see it?

Of course! Not to sound too fanboy-esque, but this is Wes Anderson, the man who made THE ROYAL TENNENBAUMS. MOONRISE has been making a splash both in Cannes and on its Rotten Tomatoes page, where it’s currently scoring a healthy 98% after 44 reviews clocked in.


Synopsis: Will Smith is back again to mine one of his most successful box-office franchises, this time taking on aliens and time travel with Tommy Lee Jones and (a particularly well-cast) Josh Brolin, as the Jones of yore.

Most typical critique: Glenn Kenny, MSN Movies:

Much of the movie’s comic buzz comes from Josh Brolin channeling Tommy Lee Jones…it’s a jewel of a comic performance and really helps the film kick into a higher gear.

The quote not to miss: Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly:

This is a winning plan for a lot of reasons, beginning with the axiom that, as the crew of the USS Enterprise demonstrated in STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME back in ancient 1986, it’s always fun when fancy folks from the sci-fi future are forced to fumble with the less elegant technology of the past.

Should you go see it?

Depends on how you do the math, but I say go for it. By all accounts, the third one definitely looks like it’s better than the second one (sorry, Lara Flynn Boyle), but not nearly as great as the first one (that’s right, Linda Fiorentino).


Synopsis: In true horror movie form, where absolutely nothing is sacred, the latest reality-style shocker pits a group of stock American youths against some pretty scary radioactive Ukrainians.

Turns out: The film has been on a total embargo, with nary a review out there. It’s usually a very very bad sign when a studio doesn’t let anyone see a film before general release, but CHERNOBYL still has one thing going for it: Mr. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY Oren Peli, who co-wrote and produced.

Should you go see it?

How much of a die-hard horror fan are you? This one doesn’t look even remotely as fresh as PARANORMAL, but it does get points for location.


Synopsis: Andie MacDowell and an aging Chazz Palminteri take on abuse, and other family themes, in this this melodrama set in 1970s Brooklyn and New Orleans.

Most typical critique: Keith Uhlich, Time Out:

Despite a committed performance from Palminteri (ripping through scenes like an aged bulldog), Debbie Goodstein’s loosely autobiographical drama is as nondescript as made-for-pennies independents come.

The quote not to miss: Andrew Schenker, Slant Magazine:

Mostly, the film treats the man as a ticking time bomb, asking the viewer to wait with inevitable expectancy for him to finally cross the line.

Should you go see it?

Probably not. The film looks like it amounts to a rage-fest for Palminteri, and MacDowell hasn’t successfully carried a film on her own since….


Synopsis: A recovering Norwegian heroin addict spends a day back in his hometown, haunted by his past and the dependencies that may do him in.

Most typical critique: Peter Bradshaw, Guardian UK:

Danielsen Lie gives an excellent performance as Anders: resentful, self-questioning, hopeful, vulnerable and angry.

The quote not to miss: Dave Calhoun, Time Out:

[Director] Trier has adapted a 1930s French novel, which in 1963 Louis Malle filmed as LE FEU FOLLET, but this feels totally fresh and modern in its concerns. It’s also devastating.

Should you go see it?

If you can handle the anguish. This is not a film for even the slightly weak of heart. We won’t ruin for you, but the fatefulness and despair of this film set in pretty early on, and never let up. Then again, lead actor/actual doctor Anders Danielsen Lie is worthy of his own T Magazine spread, so there are style points to be had.