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Review Revue: ABRAHAM LINCOLN hunted by Woody Allen

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 a vamp-killing president, Woody Allen still on vacation, apocalyptic lovers, a Pixar princess and a few political upstarts.


ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER

Synopsis: The title says it all folks. In the past few weeks they’ve released a newly edited version of the trailer, one that gets the fact that this is about Abraham Lincoln out of the way rather quickly. It¬†doesn’t get as many guffaws from the audience as the first one did, which saved that salient (and preposterous) little fact until the final title card.

Most typical critique: Shaun Munro, What Culture:

The appallingly self-serious ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER is stylised to death and lacks the subversion needed to support its inspired premise.

The quote not to miss: Karen Krizanovich, Radio Times:

Seth Grahame-Smith adapts his own novel for this outlandish, action-packed story, brought to life by director Timur Bekmambetov, whose imaginative action scenes have fuelled the likes of NIGHT WATCH, DAY WATCH and WANTED.

Should you go see it?

This is a tough call. The trailers go out of their way to remind that this is produced by Tim Burton, which *should* make it required viewing. Sadly though, Burton’s recent work as a director hasn’t exactly been stupendous. However, director Bekmambetov did wonders with both NIGHT WATCH and DAY WATCH, so perhaps this trippy pulp piece is worth a look, tongue firmly in cheek.

TO ROME WITH LOVE

Synopsis: Woody Allen is back (he never left really, but this time he’s on screen again after 7 years) and taking on yet another beauteous European capital, this time Rome. Along for the ride: Judy Davis, Roberto Benigni, Jesse Eisenberg, Penelope Cruz, Allison Pill and a slew of others.

Most typical critique: David Edelstein, New York Magazine:

I was blissed out during much of TO ROME WITH LOVE, but I have to acknowledge its creepy side.

The quote not to miss: Rex Reed, New York Observer:

It’s time to pack up the Vuitton and come home, Woody. Your inspiration is thin, you’re running out of euros, and you’re having a bad day.

Should you go see it?

Depends how much you love Woody. Allen’s current protracted fascination with European locations has turned out some gems (VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS) and some real duds (SCOOP, CASSANDRA’S DREAM and MATCH POINT, in my humble opinion). While this one seems to resemble the latter, it just may surprise as another frothy lighthearted ticket like last year’s PARIS.

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF WORLD

Synopsis: Winning this year’s Most Unlikely Pair award, Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley play strangers who become connected as the world prepares itself for the apocalypse. Quirky end-of-the-world movies should now officially be considered their own genre.

Most typical critique: Steve Persall, Tampa Bay Times:

It’s more amusing than you might expect, and ultimately more touching than an eroding society around them deserves.

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

In our summertime-movie world of aliens and superheroes who look all too familiar, Dodge and Penny look all the rarer in their precious humanity.

Should you go see it?

Sure, if you can handle the quirk. This promises a slightly more fun and inviting apocalypse than MELANCHOLIA.

BRAVE

Synopsis: Pixar delivers its first major heroine in Merida, a Scottish princess who is both a fish out of water and a reluctant, headstrong Disney protagonist.

Most typical critique: Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic:

You won’t find a lot of jaw-dropping elements in BRAVE. But what you will find is really well-done.

The quote not to miss: Andrew O’Hehir, Salon:

Moms and girls everywhere deserve this movie, absolutely, and I hope they have a great time. But they also deserve much more, and much better.

Should you go see it?

You could. This is by no means revolutionary, and with films like WALL-E under its belt, Pixar should be pressing the envelope a bit more than simply delivering a tomboy heroine.

GRASSROOTS

Synopsis: Stephen Gyllenhaal (yes, papa to Maggie & Jake) directs Jason Biggs and Lauren Ambrose in a political satire involving a random dude’s bid to join City Council in Seattle.

Turns out: There is but one review out so far, a reservedly positive note from John DeFore at The Hollywood Reporter:

A campaign movie for viewers who, if they care about politics at all, certainly don’t require the full Sorkin treatment,¬†Stephen Gyllenhaal’s¬†GRASSROOTShas a broad-strokes appeal that could connect with young viewers who’d like to believe simple populism can carry the day.

Should you go see it?

Why not? This may not be WAG THE DOG, but there’s nothing like a political satire to get you ready for this November (it’s not that far away anymore).