This week at the movies, we’ve got Hollywood hijinks (Hail, Caesar!, starring George Clooney and Josh Brolin), a bloodthirsty Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, starring Lily James and Sam Riley), and a crestfallen couple (The Choice, starring Teresa Palmer and Ben Walker). What do the critics have to say?
The Coen Brothers are old pros at lovingly paying tribute to hoary movie conventions while subverting them. Critics say that while Hail, Caesar! may be less substantial than the Coens’ best work, it’s a visually striking, star-studded affair with an engagingly loopy sense of humor. The film follows a day in the life of 1950s movie studio fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), who must track down a missing movie star (George Clooney) while keeping several other troubled productions afloat. The pundits say Hail, Caesar! sometimes feels like an inside joke, but the combined star wattage of Clooney, Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, and Frances McDormand offers ample compensation.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that every period piece in possession of a good reputation, must be in want of zombies. Critics have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of mismatched genres can bestow, and unfortunately, they have determined that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is tolerable, but not awesome enough to tempt them. It’s basically the classic story, with a twist: the Bennet sisters and Mr. Darcy have both matrimony and zombie-slaying on the mind. The pundits, who have prided themselves on discernment, say Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has moments of bloody wit, but it’s ultimately undone by an inconsistent tone.
Precious few of best-selling novelist Nicholas Sparks‘ big screen adaptations have earned positive reviews, but Valentine’s Day is around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time for another one. Though critics say The Choice is a bland, predictable romance, lovebirds looking for something to flicker by while they suck face in the dark probably couldn’t care less. Benjamin Walker plays Travis, a charming vet (puppies, not wars) and ladies’ man who decides his new next door neighbor Gabby, a fiery medical intern played by Teresa Palmer, might be worth settling down for. The only hitch is that Gabby’s already got a beau, and there’s a decidedly Sparksian tragedy in everyone’s future. The pundits say The Choice assaults viewers with banality, doing almost nothing to upend expectations, but its target audience will get exactly what it wants.
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story brings top-shelf writing, directing, and acting to bear on a still-topical story while shedding further light on the facts — and provoking passionate responses along the way.
Horace and Pete creator Louis C.K. uses his signature blend of awkward humor — and brilliant performances from a top-notch cast — to pull off an engagingly ambitious experiment in TV tragicomedy.
Grease: Live took the pressure and threw away conventionality — it belongs to yesterday. There was a chance that it could make it so far; we started believin’ we can be who we are. Grease: Live is the word.
Madoff boasts a knockout performance from Richard Dreyfuss, whose obvious enjoyment of the role helps make up for the miniseries’ surplus of polish and overall lack of perspective.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release