Weekend Movies: We’re Off to See the Wizard

This week offers a perfect example of counter-programming. On the one hand, we have an R-rated, hard-to-watch tale of two fathers coping with the kidnapping of their daughters. On the other, there’s a PG-13 dance drama. And on the third hand (what, you don’t have three hands?) is a 3D re-release of a family classic. I think it’s safe to assume that not one single person out there is torn trying to decide between which of these very different films to see first.

On more than 3,150 screens, the widest release of the weekend is the dark and heavy kidnapping drama ‘Prisoners‘. Starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, the film focuses on the effects of a double-kidnapping on the parents of the victims and the detective working the case. As if they were your own children, the movie doesn’t show how the kids were taken or if they’re even alive. For any parent, the emotional content of ‘Prisoners’ will be very hard to sit through. I found myself thinking, “My kids will never play in the front yard again,” and, “‘I can never let this happen because I’ll never be able to cope with this situation.” Be prepared. While the film itself is slow, occasionally unfocused and very predictable, the emotional roller coaster that it puts you through is very well done. Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Maria Bello, Melissa Leo and Terrence Howard co-star.

On just 1,800 screens is Screen Gems’ dance drama ‘Battle of the Year‘. Josh Holloway plays a visionary coach pushing his team of troubled teen dancers to win the world’s biggest dance-off. Of course, the discipline that he teaches them will not only help them on the dance floor, but will help them through the rest of their lives.

For those ‘Wizard of Oz‘ fans out there, this weekend gives us an IMAX and 3D reissue that will shortly make its way to Blu-ray. I’ve never seen ‘Oz’ on the big screen, so I’m very tempted to hit it up this weekend just to have that experience. If the remaster is at all as good as the recent IMAX version of ‘Jurassic Park‘, then it should be well-worth the money.

Ron Howard’s fantastic new bio-pic ‘Rush‘ gets a limited NY/LA release one week ahead of its nationwide premiere. Thor himself (Chris Hemsworth) and Daniel Brühl from ‘Inglourious Basterds‘ star as famous ’70s Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda, respectively. If you worry that this will be too much like Howard’s disappointing Dan Brown adaptations, fear not. ‘Rush’ is much more like ‘Frost/Nixon‘ than ‘The Da Vinci Code‘. For those who live far from L.A. or New York, hang tight until next week. ‘Rush’ is worth the wait.

My favorite female writer/director, Nicole Holofcener, is back on the big screen with the comedy ‘Enough Said‘. Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as a divorcee who might have found a good man to date (James Gandolfini). Just when things are looking great, she learns that one of her new friends (Catherine Keener) happens to be her new boyfriend’s ex-wife. She keeps their relationship a secret, but can’t help but be affected by what is said about her man.

And also opening in limited release is the romantic comedy ‘Thanks for Sharing‘, from the writer of ‘The Kids Are All Right‘. Based on three couples affected by sexual addiction, this sounds more like a drama than a comedy. The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Patrick Fugit, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and P!nk.


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