Jenn Brown's blog

Movies This Week: A Maid Called Extraordinary Legion


So many eyes are on Park City, Utah, as it's Sundance time, but that doesn't mean there aren't films opening in Austin this week.

Extraordinary Measures -- Sick kids and gravitas. It's just not my thing.  But if you like those kinda movies, Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser probably bring it.  (wide)

Legion -- Much more my style, but unfortunately the film had no advance screening in Austin. Paul Bettany plays a fallen angel who fights to save mankind by saving an unborn child. It looks like a mashup of The Prophecy and Resident Evil, but I still want to watch it. (wide)

The Maid -- Sundance-winning Chilean black comedy about a maid 23 years with the same family (pictured above) facing the servitude that's been her life. It's Oscar shortlisted and is laden with awards, so if you don't fear the subtitles, it's a must-see. (Arbor) 

Movies This Week: The Book of Lovely Zombie Spies


Back into the post-holiday swing of things, yet? There's not much out there new film-wise, but it's another week, and more new releases.

The Book of Eli --  Post-apocalyptic tale about a lone man who takes on a corrupt town with desperate townsfolk. Keep an eye out for Debbie's review. (Wide)

The Lovely Bones -- The novel by Alice Sebold blew me away. Peter Jackson's film adaptation, not so much, with some of the least energetic performances by otherwise good actors. However, that doesn't apply to Saoirse Ronan, who doesn't seem able to deliver anything but engaging performances.  From what I can tell, those who like it seem to be those who haven't read the book. Read my review for more details. (wide)

Review: The Lovely Bones


Alice Sebold's hauntingly beautiful story of life after death, the The Lovely Bones, has made it to the big screen, adapted as a motion picture by Peter Jackson, the current king of adaptations. Unfortunately, it doesn't translate as well as Jackson's adaptations of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The movie doesn't deliver on the novel's albeit complex and poignantly beautiful tale of limbo, tragedy, grief and healing.

Susie Salmon (Saorise Ronan) is a young teenager, in the throes of young love when tragedy strikes, devastating her family and leaving her in limbo. Ronan, who owned every one of her scenes in Atonement, does the same in The Lovely Bones. She continues to grow as an actress, but this time instead of a little girl, she's a coltish young teen, awkwardly bridging the gap between child and young woman, and madly infatuated with a boy at school. When her life is cruelly cut short, it's not just her family -- and her murderer -- who have to learn how to live in the aftermath. Susie has to learn how to move on after her death.

Movies This Week: Imaginarium of Crazy Broken Daybreaker Youth


Unlike last week, it seems like a backlog of late-2009 releases is finally hitting Austin. Take your pick, there's something for everyone. 

Broken Embraces -- Pedro Almodóvar's latest and most sedate film. Technically sound, emotionally distant, it makes me want to see one of his crazier films. Find out more about the film from my review. (Arbor)

Crazy Heart -- There's been a lot of praise for Jeff Bridges's performance, but I don't see him stretching any acting muscles on this one. The plot's weak, and a major plot point involves an unlikely romance with one of the most convoluted women characters written for a major release in years. Debbie's review. (Arbor)

Review: Broken Embraces


A famous director known by his alias. A strange stranger. A mystery from the past. An Almodóvar film. Things are going to get complicated.

Broken Embraces (Los abrazos rotos) is Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar's latest romantic thriller, starring his muse Penelope Cruz as the beauty cast in a film and a victim of circumstance. A famous director going by the name Harry Caine, now blind and in seclusion, is approached by an unnerving stranger shortly after a man of some importance passes away. When Harry realizes who the stranger is, secrets start to unravel.

Movies This Week: Stingray Sam is Not a Hero ...


Hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas, whether it's a holiday you celebrated or not. Or at least a better one than me, I had the flu. Movies were watched, just not in the theater. I still need to see The Road. I couldn't even muster up the concentration to watch my new District 9 Blu-ray.

Hollywood has no movies opening this week. The only films that aren't simply switching theaters or times are two special engagements at the Alamo Ritz.

Stingray Sam opens for a special three-night run. This crowd pleaser is an episodic space musical about Stingray and his friend the Quasar Kid, who are compelled to rescue a little girl from a planet with a surprisingly twist on genetics. This homage to old-school sci-fi serials as well as musicals has catchy music you'll be singing to yourself for days after. The twinkle in director/writer/star Cory McAbee's eye will win just about everyone over.

Movies This Week: Young Victoria, Sherlock and Nine Complicated Chipmunks


Can you believe it? Christmas is upon us. Only one more week left in 2009. The holiday-opening films are lighter than I expected, but there is something new for most tastes.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel --  Debbie was the trouper to sit through this, uh, sequel.  I refuse to type that "other" word some marketing hack thought up. See Debbie's review. (wide)

It's Complicated -- This romantic comedy about a divorced couple who rekindle at least their sex life with each other doesn't look so great from the trailers, despite two charismatic stars (Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin). See Debbie's review to find out if it's just too complicated. (wide)

Nine -- A love song to female archetypes on pedestals and an homage to Fellini's 8 1/2, Nine is a musical best appreciated by those who love musicals and Fellini. And those who love gorgeous actresses. See my review for more details, or read Jette's review at Cinematical. (wide)

Review: Sherlock Holmes


What do you get when Guy Ritchie directs a film about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle characters? Something that doesn't much resemble the work of either artist, in the case of the new movie Sherlock Holmes.

After solving a shocking mystery, the self-indulgent and manipulative Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is sulking for lack of a case and the impending move of his best friend and roommate with Dr. John Watson (Jude Law). Their bromance is threatened not only by the resurgence of the case, but a future fiancée and a returning lover/nemesis. 

Sherlock Holmes is gritty, pretty and devoid of much substance, focusing instead on the flash and deception the villain in the film uses to pass as magic as tattered as Holmes's smoking jacket. Much the same can be said about the original script from Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg. 

Review: Nine


If you need a dose of Federico Fellini, you might get just that in Nine, the adaptation of the Broadway musical that re-interprets Fellini's film 8 1/2. The story is a slight shift from the original film, filling in backstory and turning it into a love poem to objectified women and their rebellion against a self-centered, childish and charming egotist.

(In)famous Italian director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is about to start filming his latest production, but he doesn't have a script, and can't escape his own celebrity status or his relationships long enough to concentrate on it.  His creative crises is exacerbated by his personal ones as he fails to balance his relationships with his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), his married mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz), his reluctant muse Claudia (Nicole Kidman), and brash fashionista journalist Stephanie (Kate Hudson) who makes it clear she wants to be one of his women, too.  

Movies This Week: Did You Hear the End of the Avatar Locker Up in the Air?


[Ed. Note:  The list of theatrical releases has been updated. See The New Daughter for details]

Now that BNAT is over, and the Austin Film Critics Association (AFCA) has chosen their favorites for the year (and the decade), we're seeing the last of the big films with award potential are finally getting released.  Next week, Christmas day is the Big Day for several films, but for now, there are still some films coming to a theater near you. 

Avatar --  Big bad mega-corp takes on the indigenous people living in harmony with their planet.  Don't go see it for an original story, as everything is very familiar. Go see it for some beautiful visuals, and Zoe Saldana's outstanding performance. See Debbie's review.  (wide)

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