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Review Revue: PREMIUM RUSH, SLEEPWALK WITH ME, LITTLE WHITE LIES


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 road-trippin’ couple, a bike messenger in a serious rush, a sleepwalking Mike Birbiglia, some weepy French friends and a badass undead army vet.

PREMIUM RUSH

Synopsis: The consistently great actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bike messenger in this New York-based urban thriller whose shoot closed down several of this writer’s neighborhood streets last spring.

Most typical critique: Joan Alperin-Schwartz, Two Jews on Film:

Sometimes a film is 100% entertainment… That is definitely the case with PREMIUM RUSH, written and directed by David Koepp (writer of SPIDERMAN and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, etc).

The quote not to miss: Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times:

I’m very weary of routine chase movies. There’s nothing routine about PREMIUM RUSH.

Should you go see it?

Sure! If for nothing else than these two reasons: TAKE SHELTER‘s brilliant Michael Shannon is turning heads as a crooked cop named Bobby Monday, and the director/co-writer of this film has written some of the best (or at least most popular) action thrillers of the past 20 years (JURASSIC PARK, CARLITO’S WAY, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, PANIC ROOM…)

HIT & RUN

Synopsis: A road trip/romance/crime farce directed, written by and starring Dax Shepard, with Kristen Bell and a kooky Bradley Cooper along for the ride.

Most typical critique: Keith Phipps, AV Club:

There really ought to be a lot more movies like HIT & RUN, but only if they’re just a little bit better.

The quote not to miss: Stephen Holden, The New York Times:

The movie feels like a grown-up version of little boys making whooshing noises and staging collisions while playing with toys on a living room floor.

Should you go see it?

Give it a shot. It’ll probably help if you’re already a Dax Shepard fan.

SLEEPWALK WITH ME

Synopsis: In this Sundance Film Festival fave, standup man Mike Birbiglia brings his material to the big screen, in an adaptation loosely based on the play that is loosely based on Birbiglia’s life.

Most typical critique: Marshall Fine, Hollywood & Fine:

An amiable, sometimes surprising movie about chasing your dream while you’re wide awake.

The quote not to miss: Drew Grant, New York Observer:

SLEEPWALK holds together as a story that, like a particularly good episode of This American Life, is both laugh-out-loud funny and somewhat melancholic.

Should you go see it?

Yes. Let’s just say neurotic, sharp-witted New York comedians have had a good track record in the past, so this is a sure thing.

LITTLE WHITE LIES

Synopsis: The two French Oscar-winners of the past 5 years, LA VIE EN ROSE’s Marion Cotillard and THE ARTIST’s Jean Dujardin, get together for what is, put as simply as possible, the French BIG CHILL.

Most typical critique: Melissa Anderson, Village Voice:

The din of this crew’s constant caviling and passive-aggressive insulting is further intensified by the puzzling, nonstop boomer soundtrack.

The quote not to miss: Linda Barnard, Toronto Star:

At 154 minutes, Little White Lies goes on 30 minutes longer than necessary and, with the exception of Cotillard, is heavily weighted toward the men’s stories.

Should you go see it?

Quelle dommage. Dujardin only has what amounts to an extended cameo, in heavily disfiguring makeup. The French, usually auteurs of restraint, get a little (no, a lot) too weepy here.

THE REVENANT

Synopsis: In the tradition of Albert Brooks’ marvelous DEFENDING YOUR LIFE, the main character in this horror comedy (horredy?) dies in the first five minutes. But instead of moving onto the afterlife like Mr. Brooks, our protagonist, a U.S. soldier in Iraq, comes back as a zombie-vampire hybrid. Cool beans!

Most typical critique: Chris Packham, Village Voice:

THE REVENANT kind of aspires to be a horror-comedy in the vein of SHAUN OF THE DEAD but keeps tripping on its own misanthropy.

The quote not to miss: Noel Murray, AV Club:

[Principal actors Chris] Wylde… and [David] Anders make a winning pair as they tool around L.A., killing gangsters and guzzling booze and blood.

Should you go see it?

If zombies are your thing, or if you enjoyed SHAUN OF THE DEAD, then absolutely. THE REVENANT is a formidable zombie bromance that is vomitacious in the best and goriest sense of the term.