Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope that this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you towards titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return. This week brings with it a selection of Oscar winners, nominees, and a variety of other, non-nominated flicks. Read on for the week's titles that are worthy of your consideration.
No Country for Old Men. The week's top choices are led by this four-time Oscar winner. It was number two on my top ten of 2007 list, and is well deserving of all the praise and awards it has collected. Joel and Ethan Coen directed this film from the script they wrote adapting Cormac McCarthy's novel. On the surface, the movie tells the story of a man who comes across a case filled with cash from a drug deal gone bad, takes it, and is pursued by a man intent on retrieving the lost cash. Yes, it is much more than that, but it needs to be discovered. Just watch as Josh Brolin tries to do good by his wife and Javier Bardem delivers one of the scariest villains to grace the screen in a long time.
Stargate SG-1: Ark of Truth. I remember enjoying the 1994 feature film, but when they decided to turn it into a television series, questions lingered. Well, I did not get to watch any of it until many years in, when the Sci Fi Channel picked it up from Showtime. I was immediately hooked. Well, it recently ended its ten-year run, yet it left some ongoing threads. Here is the first (of at least a few, I hope) direct-to-DVD movie that will address some of those threads and wrap up the Ori storyline. I'm looking forward to checking this out!
August Rush. Here is a movie that was received with decidedly mixed reactions when it hit the big screen. I fell to the side of loving it. There was something magical about this fairy tale story and the way that it used music to transcend normal life. It is the story of two musicians from different walks of life and the child that resulted from their union. He was left behind and now sets out on an adventure to find his parents. The tone takes some strange shifts, but it does not dampen the magic.
Bee Movie. Here is a movie that you love or loathe based on how much you like the comedy of Jerry Seinfeld. I liked the film; there was plenty to laugh at, however I cannot fully recommend it. You see, despite enjoying the comedy and laughing at the jokes, the message is not one that I approve of. It essentially says that if you conform to society and do what is expected of you, everything will be okay.
Tin Man. This mini-series from the Sci Fi Channel sought to give a new vision to the Wizard of Oz universe. It worked to an extent. There were moments of boredom and certain characters that did not entirely work, but overall it was an entertaining and ambitious project that is worth spending some time with.
Nancy Drew. Seeming like a cross between The Brady Bunch and Scooby Doo, this adaptation is endearing if not quite what it could have been. It is enjoyable enough for the tween set. It was like a film noir for the kids, letting you play along with the mystery. Entertaining, if insubstantial.
Dan in Real Life. This is a sweet slice of cinema that has modest aspirations as it plays up the standards of the romantic comedy without pandering to the audience. Steve Carell offers up a memorable performance and is the main reason to watch this. Well, him and Juliette Binoche. Peter Hedges directed and co-wrote the script. For the most part, he does a fine job of getting the players in the right place and keeping the heart firmly in place.
Hitman. It bothers me that there is very little growth and we are cheated by the trailers promising something that isn't there. Sure, trailers have been known to be misleading, but this takes the cake. There is a lot of potential here, but it is left unexplored. The end result is a mixture of Dark Angel, The Transporter, and James Bond that came out of the oven half-baked. Perhaps when a sequel is made we will get a little more depth, but I am not holding my breath. Perhaps the unrated cut will be an improvement, but somehow I doubt it.