Chris Weitz had a breakthrough in a big way in 2002′s indie dramedy About a Boy, which he received an Academy Award nomination for Adapted Screenplay. Since then, he’s struggled in directorial choices such as The Golden Compass (2007) and The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) and hasn’t capitalized on the promise once thought of him. What Weitz has delivered in his newest film, A Better Life, assisted by a passionate performance by Demián Bichir is one of the most compelling and emotional films of the year.
The film tells the story of Carlos (Bichir), an illegal Mexican immigrant just trying to make ends meet for him and his fourteen year old son Luis (José Julián). While Carlos struggles and shows constant compassion for the human race, Luis has been struggling with school and the temptation of joining a local Los Angeles gang. The constant fear of deportation is on Carlos’ mind as his limitations in job choices and transportation starts weighing in heavily. The film is an exposé of the United States’ immigration problems that has resonated for decades, although, Weitz brings a fresh and fervent touch on the sensitive subject matter.
Read more on A Better Life (***½)…
‘Texas Killing Fields’ boasts a cast that makes you expect better than just a mediocre thriller that seems to revel in plot points that better films have already done before. This is rather frustrating, because a good serial killer thriller is hard to come by these days. I had hoped that this one would be a solid one, but it very much is not. It also has the distinction of likely being the low point of Jessica Chastain’s banner film year, quality wise. Director Ami Canaan Mann (yes, the daughter of Michael Mann) is workmanlike in her approach. She’s nothing like her father, at least yet. She doesn’t get anything of note from her actors, and that’s a real shame. The pieces were in place for something rather entertaining, but you don’t get that at all. It’s a competent crime movie overall, but it’s simply been done before…and better. That makes it such a chore to sit through. You don’t want mysteries to be boring and trite, but this one manages to be both.
Read more on Texas Killing Fields (**)…
A serviceable prequel to the John Carpenter film of the same name, ‘The Thing’ works best when it resists the urge to fall into being more of a remake than a prequel. When it’s getting into the origins of the creature that terrorized Kurt Russell and company, it’s a decent yet unremarkable sci-fi/horror flick. It’s the middle of the movie, when you’d be forgiven for not realizing it wasn’t a remake…that’s when things go a little off the tracks. Nothing in this film is particularly great, but nothing is terrible either. It just could have stood to have been a little more consistent. Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. mixes in practical and CGI effects well enough, but doesn’t do much to elevate the terror beyond some “boo” moments. Credit goes to Mary Elizabeth Winstead for being a strong female action hero of sorts, but her character isn’t exactly given much to do either. Every element of this movie is decent, but lacking in some small way.
Read more on The Thing (**½)…
A true festival type film at heart, ‘Red State’ is Kevin Smith going back to his indie roots. It’s gritty, angry, and made with independent spirit. My love of the film is well known, and it’s great to see it get a boost by winning Best Picture and Actor at the Sitges Film Festival ahead of its DVD release next week after a successful limited theatrical run. Here’s the story and full listing of winning films and performers from Variety:
Horror-thriller “Red State,” helmed by Kevin Smith (“Clerks”), took film and actor (Michael Parks) at the 44th Sitges Festival, Europe’s biggest genre pic confab, which wrapped Saturday.
Toplining Parks, John Goodman and Melissa Leo, “State” turns on a group of religious fundamentalists determined to eradicate American teens’ sex-drive.
World-preeming at Sundance, and distributed Stateside by Smith himself under his Smodcast Pictures banner, “State” is sold internationally by IM Global.
Read more on Red State takes Best Picture and Actor at the Sitges Film Festival!…
Read more on Circuit Round-Up (Week Ending 10/16)…
Categories: Circuit Round-Up
Tags: Beautiful Boy
, Best Actor
, Best Actress
, Best Supporting Actor
, Circuit Round-Up
, dancing with the stars
, Horrible Bosses
, Oscar race
, Real Steel
, Ryan Gosling
, Steve Martin
, The Awards Circuit readers
, The Skin I Live In
, The Thing
, The Tree of Life
, We Need To Talk About Kevin
The third screener to go out this season following Chris Weitz’s A Better Life and Jim Kohlberg’s The Music Never Stopped is Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter. Obviously it will pushed in all categories upon close glance but the real question is will a early campaign help in the efforts of Academy Award Nominee Michael Shannon and Oscar hopeful Jessica Chastain, who has five other films out this season. The film is sitting at a very pretty 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and 85% on Metacritic. Unrelated to the Oscar race but important enough here at the Awards Circuit, the film is/was in consideration for this season of Academy Idol. Did it make the cut? You’ll find out on November 13th. Read more on Sony Pictures Classics sends out ‘Take Shelter’ Screener!…
Opening April 4, 2012, the adaptation will star Will & Grace’s Sean Hayes, MADTV’s Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulos. Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Craig Bierko, Jennifer Hudson, Larry David, and Stephen Collins will also star. Poster after the jump.
Read more on Poster: The Three Stooges…