New Movie-O-Meter: Love is Strange, The Drop, and More
Our weekly round-up of new releases, ranked for your viewing pleasure, by their indispensability and watchability. Yes, we made up that word.
SEE IT NOW!
1. Love is Strange: After earning much in the way of festival buzz at Sundance this past January, Ira Sachs’ loving drama about a recently married gay couple (John Lithgow and Alfred Molina) who are forced to sell their Manhattan apartment when one of them loses their job, finally arrives on local screens. The drama centers on the fact that these long-term lovers, who’ve been together almost 40 years, suddenly find themselves having to separate temporarily and live in different domiciles (one moves in with a nephew and his family in Brooklyn; the other moves in with a pair of cops in their old building) creating longing tension between the men, who also have to adjust to fit their new surroundings.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
2. The Drop: A nifty little bit of pulp noir from director Michaël R. Roskam and celebrated dark novelist Dennis Lehane, who wrote the screenplay based on one of his own twisty short stories. I haven’t always been a fan of Lehane-based films in the past (I found both Mystic River and Shelter Island both silly and wholly unbelievable) and, frankly, the story here isn’t necessarily a big selling point, either. What is good though is the performances of James Gandolfini (in one of his last ever roles) and another completely submerged performance by the remarkable Tom Hardy, who infuses his Brooklyn cypher character with all kinds of unknown depths and a Flatbush accent that sounds pretty near spot-on.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
3. Wetlands: A raunchy German comedy (not many of those around!) about a teen heroine named Helens (Carla Juri) who is really into masturbation with vegetables, bodily fluids, and her own excretions. The story is told from a hospital room where she has been treated for an anal fissure (yep!). Helens is also upset about the split of her parents, whom she schemes to get back together from her hospital bed, and falls in love with one of the nurses (Christoph Letkowski) assigned to her care. This sounds like the rarest of all breeds: A (truly) gross-out comedy in which the protagonist is a completely unapologetic female.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
FEEL FREE TO WAIT FOR DVD
1. Dolphin Tale 2: This would be the sequel to the original family adventure based on the real-life dolphin survivor Winter, who sported a prosthetic tail in place of her real one, which was torn off in a crab trap. Somehow, the cast is exactly who you would think they would be: Who’s our sweetly doting main mother character? Ashley Judd. Who’s the kindly doctor who takes up Winter’s cause? Morgan Freeman. Who’s the kindly, old grandmotherly woman who finds the whole thing a miracle? Frances Sternhagen…and so on. It’s like the casting director populated the film while sitting on their living room couch on their cell phone playing Candy Crush.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%
2. Kelly & Cal: A film about a pair of oddballs who become friends, Jen McGowan’s comedy draws its humor from the friction between the friends and the lives they find themselves leading. Juliette Lewis stars as a former punk-rocker who has morphed into a suburban mom to her consternation; newcomer Jonny Weston plays her troubled 17-year-old neighbor. Their friendship somehow leads them both to a better and more authentic place. From the sound of it, the film falls along pretty conventional lines, but is a suitable vehicle for the particular talents of Lewis, who has largely fallen off the face of the earth, cinematically speaking.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%
3. The Man on Her Mind: This sounds dangerously like whimsy — the kiss of death to this particular critic — but, as the film appears to have been seen by virtually no one up this point, there’s no way of really knowing. The plot concerns two lonely, imaginative people (Amy McCallister and Samuel James), who meet for a shaky blind date, and then spend months creating fantasy partners loosely based upon each other, such that when they finally meet again, they are forced to compare their real selves with their inventions. If this were written by Charlie Kaufman, I’m sure there would be worlds within worlds, and somehow the fantasy people would also have their own fantasy people and the very threads of reality would bend and warp, but since he actually has nothing to do with this, your guess is as good as mine.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: n/a
SKIP IT ALTOGETHER
No Good Deed: Whelp: this is pure, cynical speculation on my part, as Screen Gems has made the decision to not screen the film for critics. Like, at all. Now, the reason given is that the film has such a wild and unforeseen plot twist, they want to be sure the audience gets to experience it first-hand, without some lousy critic giving it away in their stupid review. Sure, could be. But the not-screening-in-advance thing is perpetrated by many similar studios on movies they know to be absolute dogs too, so forgive us if we perhaps read between the lines on this one. At least it stars the solid Idris Elba, and has some kind of home-invasion plot; that much we can say for certain.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: n/a