THIS WEEK’S THEATRICAL RELEASES:
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”: Director Wes Anderson transports viewers to another one of his unique, self-contained worlds that requires you to give yourself up totally to his story within a story within a story that recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The plot is a bit convoluted to tell but easy to follow on screen: It involves the theft and recovery of a priceless painting; a raging battle for an enormous family fortune; a desperate chase on motorcycles, trains, sleds, and skis; love and murder; and a little tower of cream-filled pastries called Mend’s Courtesan au Chocolat — all against the backdrop of a suddenly and dramatically changing continent. Certainly one of the most whimsical — and accessible — Anderson film to date. Stars Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Lea Seydoux, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson. Extras include several behind the scenes featurettes and Mendl’s secret recipe. From Fox.
“The Lego Movie”: Who would have thought that one of the biggest toy and game conglomerates in the world would be the force behind a seemingly anti-establishment movie. On the surface, it’s about Emmet, an ordinary rules-following, perfectly average Lego construction worker, who is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant — Lord Business — from gluing the Lego universe into eternal stasis. It’s good Legos against bad Legos, altruism vs greed, super heroes vs Bad Cop. Below the surface, it’s a very clever way to sell more very expensive Lego games and toys. The movie is downright enjoyable, though. Voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Will Ferrell, Alison Brie, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum. Extras include commentary, several featurettes, outtakes and deleted scenes. From Warner.
THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS:
There’s three very collectible films due this week from The Criterion Collection:
“Hearts and Minds” (1974): A startling and courageous film, Peter Davis’s landmark 1974 documentary unflinchingly confronted the United States’ involvement in Vietnam at the height of the foment that surrounded it. Using a wealth of sources — from interviews to newsreels to footage of the conflict and the upheaval it occasioned on the home front — Davis constructs a powerfully affecting picture of the disastrous effects of war. Explosive, persuasive, and wrenching, “Hearts and Minds” is an overwhelming emotional experience and the most important nonfiction film ever made about this devastating period in history … “Picnic at Hanging Rock” (1975): This sensual and striking chronicle of a disappearance and its aftermath put director Peter Weir on the map and helped usher in a new era of Australian cinema. Set at the turn of the 20th century, “Picnic at Hanging Rock” concerns a small group of students from an all-female college and a chaperone, who vanish while on a St. Valentine’s Day outing. Less a mystery than a journey into the mystic, as well as an inquiry into issues of class and sexual repression in Australian society, Weir’s gorgeous, disquieting film is a work of poetic horror whose secrets haunt viewers to this day … “Judex” (1963): This effortlessly cool crime caper, directed by Georges Franju (“Eyes Without a Face”), is a marvel of dexterous plotting and visual invention. Conceived as an homage to Louis Feuillade’s 1916 cult silent serial of the same name, “Judex” kicks off with the mysterious kidnapping of a corrupt banker by a shadowy crime fighter (American magician Channing Pollock) and spins out into a thrillingly complex web of deceptions. Combining stylish sixties modernism with silent-cinema touches and even a few unexpected sci-fi accents, “Judex” is a delightful bit of pulp fiction and a testament to the art of illusion.