Monday, August 4 2014, 04:16 PM MDT
Box Office: Recommended Films For The Week Of May 9 – May 15, 2014
Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week May 9 - May 15, 2014
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (PG-13)
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (R)
3. Neighbors (R)
4. Noah (PG-13)
5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (PG-13)
1. Muppets Most Wanted (PG)
2. The Lego Movie (PG)
3. Mr. Peabody & Sherman (PG)
4. Frozen (PG)
5. Rio 2 (G)
1. Only Lovers Left Alive (R)
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (R)
3. Under the Skin (R)
4. The Lunchbox (PG)
5. The Railway Man (R)
New In Theaters This Week:
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: John Turturro
Starring: John Turturro, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone
Recommended To: Those looking for a strange alternate reality where Woody Allen successfully plays John Turturro's pimp.
Synopsis: When Murray (Woody Allen) is forced to close his family's book store he asks his friend Fioravante (John Turturro) to help him out by getting paid for turning tricks for Murray's rich female friends.
Review: I suppose it could be fairly believable that John Turturro could catch the eye of women like Sharon Stone, Vanessa Paradis or Sofia Vergara. They might even be willing the pay handsomely for his services. What I can't believe is Woody Allen being an effective pimp. Fortunately Fading Gigolo, which also written and directed by Turturro, isn't concerned with being overly realistic. It is concerned with presenting a lighthearted comedy with a hefty amount of heart (courtesy of Paradis' Avigal and Turturro's Fioravante) and while some of its deeper message about love and connection is lost in the film's premise and somewhat goofy tone the story works more often than it comes up wanting. The performances are good, only Allen grates on the nerves (which is likely exactly what Turturro was going for considering Allen always delivers the same sort of performance). Paradis is particularly charming. Fading Gigolo is a nice diversion, but not much more.
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
1.5 out of 5 Stars
Directors: Will Finn, Dan St. Pierre
Starring: Lea Michele, Kelsey Grammer, Dan Aykroyd
Genre: Animated, Family, Musical
Recommended To: Those desperate for family-friendly entertainment.
Synopsis: Dorothy finds herself back in Oz where she must help her friends the Scarecrow, the Lion, the Tin Man and Glinda defeat the evil Jester who has taken over Emerald City.
Review: There's no way around the fact that Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return looks like a direct-to-video film that has been fluffed up by a 3D conversion for a theatrical run in hopes of cashing in on the fact that there hasn't been a new animated family film released in weeks. The script isn't even based on a L. Frank Baum novel; it's lifted from Roger S. Baum's (Frank's grandson) 1989 book Dorothy of Oz. It's a fairly bland story, but that might have more to do with the lifeless adaptation than the source material. The big problem with Legends of Oz is that its story is too simplistic, its animation too antiquated and its original songs are forgettable at best. The vocal performances range from annoying (Martin Short's shouting Jester is unbearable) to merely passable. The only thing Legends of Oz might have going for it is that the masses love The Wizard of Oz. They love it so much that no one has even dared to try and remake it. Still, we've already been back to Oz via 1989's underrated Return to Oz (which was based on L. Frank Baum's The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz) and last year's topsy-turvy Oz the Great and Powerful and Legends of Oz doesn't really insert anything new or interesting into the equation. In fact, it's pretty boring and could keep the attention of the children in the theater until its final act's major battle. The flying monkeys weren't even cool. How do you make flying monkeys uncool?
If you are going to make a micro-budget movie you absolutely have to have a top notch script and an understanding of your limitations. Legends of Oz seems to think that its D-rate songs, C-grade story and antiquated animation are enough to conquer Hollywood. You'd be better off seeing The Lego Movie and Muppets Most Wanted again or wait to take the kids to Maleficent or How to Train Your Dragon 2.
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron
Recommended To: Fans of Seth Rogen's pot jokes, those who adore Rose Byrne or Zac Efron and R-rated comedy enthusiasts.
Synopsis: Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) are finding it difficult to adjust to life as new parents, but when a fraternity moves in next door the couple are forced to extremes to try and return to the quiet and seemingly boring life they never thought they wanted.
Review: Buried deep beneath Neighbors' pot jokes, four-lettered expletives and bawdy humor is a story about growing up and accepting (or rejecting) responsibility. It's the sort of message that director Nicholas Stoller has been sneaking into his films (The Five-Year Engagement, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and it's what allows the film to be more than a pointless dirge like 21 & Over, Hangover II and the lesser American Pie movies were. Sadly the debauchery is far easier to see and will likely distract most audience members, particularly those that are in their early twenties and have yet to consider settling down, from the underlining themes and subtext that Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien have written into the script. Which is a shame because Rose Byrne, Zac Efron and to a lesser extent Seth Rogen and Dave Franco bring a surprising amount of depth to characters that typically wouldn't offer any sort of insight into life.
I don't want to oversell Neighbors. I've never cared much for Seth Rogen's shtick and for as witty as the dialogue can be the jokes that fall flat vastly outnumber those that connect. Still, if you enjoy R-rated humor and are looking to just be entertained for 90 minutes Neighbors is an above-average attraction.
Only Lovers Left Alive
4 out of 5 Stars
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska
Genre: Drama, Horror, Romance
Recommended To: Those looking for fresh and intelligent vampire tale.
Synopsis: Adam (Tom Hiddleston), a secluded and depressed musician, is visited by Eve (Tilda Swinton) his centuries-old lover. Eve's attempts to cheer Adam are thwarted when her sister, the rebellious Ava (Mia Wasikowska) decides to visit as well.
Review: A few years back I was of the mind that vampire films had been done to death and that there was little point in trying to revive the corpse. Since then I've been treated to films like Neil Jordan's Byzantium, Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In (plus Matt Reeves' overlooked English-language remake Let Me In), Jim Mickle's Stake Land and now Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive to prove me wrong.
Like many of Jarmusch's films Only Lovers Left Alive is heavy on character as we are welcomed into the mind of Tom Hiddleston's Adam, a vampire who has struggled with depression throughout his life. He's a tortured artist, a philosopher of sorts, an inventor and a man who has become increasingly disgusted with humanity and by extension his own existence. An existential vampire, who would have thought?
To balance Adam, as well as the narrative, we are given Tilda Swinton's romantic and lushly passionate Eve. To disrupt the calm we have Ava, Eve's younger sister played with the perfect blend of juvenile selfishness by Mia Wasikowska. Ava is an immortal teenager who has yet to progress beyond her vapid and careless behavior. Eve is exotic, but restrained. Adam feels revealed while Eve is cloaked in a certain mystery. What wonders and horrors has she witnessed or participated in?
If you're looking for ample amounts of gore or visceral frights you're going to be disappointed. If you're looking for something a bit more challenging, a story about the inner struggle of a vampire that goes beyond the gothic camp of Interview with the Vampire, then I highly recommend the gorgeous polished gloss of Only Lovers Left Alive.
-Ryan Michael Painter