Paul Giamatti does his damnedest to make Barney Panofsky, the lonely and desperate focus of Barney’s Version, at least a pitiable character, but Richard J. Lewis’ monotonous movie wallows along in its protagonist’s misery to the point that we can’t quite even muster that much emotion toward him. It’s a story in flashback, seeing an old man losing his memory trying to recall the unhappiest moments in his life, from his three failed marriages to the mysterious death of his best friend. Dustin Hoffman plays his father, another man with a shady past but who gets away with it based on charm, and Rosamund Pike plays his third wife (Rachelle Lefevre and Minnie Driver play the wholly stereotypical others), a light in the mire of despair. My review is here. Available on DVD/Blu-ray Combo.
If they’ve seen it, the surviving members of Monty Python probably wished they had come up with some of the stuff in Season of the Witch. There is much ridiculousness happening in the movie, from bodies that aren’t dead yet, to a rickety old bridge, a murder of crows hovering ominously over a town (That doesn’t prevent the heroes from stopping in), Nicolas Cage sporting a stylish goatee for a man who’s spent over a decade in the Crusades, and the list goes on and on. Fair enough, if this were a comedy, but director Dominic Sena doesn’t think it is. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Speaking of silly, here’s Beastly. It’s also loads of creepy. A reworking of Beauty and the Beast in which the Best is a spoiled rich jerk (Alex Pettyfer) who is cursed by a witch (Mary-Kate Olsen) and proceeds to stalk the only girl in high school who could tolerate his repugnant personality after a single meeting (Vanessa Hudgens) to manipulate her into saying, “I love you.” It’s also shoddily made, which helps to make it at least unintentionally hilarious in parts. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Whether an anti-musical or an homage to the genre with shooting and punching and kicking replacing song and dance, Sucker Punch is a clean mess and an overexcited bore. Director Zack Snyder has made a repetitive action movie with no stakes and an exploitative bit of faux female empowerment. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray. There’s also an extended cut available that I’ve heard is better, but you know what they say about polishing a turd.
For the first (and probably not the last) time, Peter Jackson’s extended editions of his Lord of the Rings trilogy are available on Blu-ray. I must say that the longer cuts of the first two films are even better than their theatrical counterparts, while the third one messes too much with the pacing. They’re all worth seeing, of course, especially if you’ve yet to do so. My reviews of the films are here, here, and here.