The Weekender: A bunch of ‘Noise’


Contraband (R)
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Beckinsale
Screenplay by Aaron Guzikowski
Directed by Baltasar Kormákur
Wahlberg’s definitely playing to his strengths here. So why does this movie look so weak? The director starred in the original Icelandic version of this “one last job” thriller, but I doubt he can bring any heft to a genre that’s been wrung completely dry.

Joyful Noise (PG-13)
Starring Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Keke Palmer
Written and directed by Todd Graff
This type of cornball musical should be right up my alley, but it just looks unbelievably bad. There’s sort of a plot about a gospel choir competition but the only competition will be to see whether Dolly or the Queen has more bad one-liners.

Beauty and the Beast 3-D (G)
Starring the voices of Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury
Screenplay by Linda Woolverton
Directed by Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
I’ll make this easy on you: I think it’s kind of shameful that Disney’s trying to play to early on-set nostalgia by charging you $15 to see a movie your parents paid $5 (or less) for you to see as a kid, especially when you can find this on DVD or Blu-ray already. So just stay home and watch that.

Check out limited releases after the jump…

The Iron Lady (PG-13)
Starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Richard E. Grant
Written by Abi Morgan
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Mamma Mia! Why is the director of that horrendous musical directing this prestige biopic? Maybe Streep thinks she’s easy-going? Regardless, Streep’s looking at an Oscar nomination as Margaret Thatcher, even though the movie’s about as well-liked as the prime minister was among the working class.

Starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly
Written for the screen by Yasmina Reza & Roman Polanski
Directed by Roman Polanski
Critics are split right down the middle (as they often were on the original play) about two sets of parents that set out to have a discussion about the fight their sons got into. The dark comedy won’t work for everyone, but my, what a cast.

In the Land of Blood and Honey (R)
Starring Zana Marjanovic, Goran Kostic, Rade Serbedzija
Written and directed by Angelina Jolie
Now if this was any other writer-director, I think this movie would be getting a lot more respect. But since it’s arguably the world’s most recognizable movie star/adoptive mother, it reeks of a project beyond her grasp. Tackling a love story between a Bosnian woman and a Serb during the years-long civil war/genocide is tricky material to begin with, and Jolie’s walking on a tightrope with it. As much as she bothers me personally, I think she can make this work as a difficult but moving film.

Top Pick:

Moneyball (95%)
At this point in the Oscar race, I think I know less as the ceremony approaches. So it’s entirely possible you’ll see this movie rack up a slew of nominations a week from Tuesday, and for good reason. The script (by Oscar winners Steven Zaillan and Aaron Sorkin) pops, taking boring statistics and front-office talk and transforming it into a movie full of life and love for the game. Brad Pitt has never been better, here playing Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, who latches on to a young college grad’s passion for invisible stats and transforms his team on a shoestring budget. Jonah Hill plays that kid, and his work is revelatory. The more I think about this movie, the more I like it. It could easily end up in my top 10.

To rent:
1911 (9%)
Film Socialisme (55%)
Higher Ground (81%)
Killer Elite (25%)
There Be Dragons (11%)
What’s Your Number? (24%)

To buy:
DVD: A Bronx Tale

TV: Boardwalk Empire (Season 1)*, Hawaii Five-O (Season 12), An Idiot Abroad (Season 1), Primeval (Vol. 3)

Blu-ray: American Graffiti, Brokeback Mountain, Brüno, Dante’s Peak, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Fever Pitch, Forgetting Sarah Marshall*, King Kong (2005)*, Legally Blonde*, Legend, Never Been Kissed*, Pride & Prejudice (2005)*, Serenity, Shallow Hal*, Tremors*, Van Helsing


(All release dates and locations subject to change.)

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