After months of sparse and, more importantly, mediocre (if not abysmal) movie options, recent weeks have give us a bounty of worthwhile offerings in a variety of genres — from art-house fare like Catfish, Jack Goes Boating, Lebanon and A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop to multiplex stuff like The Social Network and Let Me In and Easy A. And this week delivers yet more of both: Buried, It's Kind of a Funny Story, Secretariat and Never Let Me Go.
Add in the Cincinnati Film Festival, which opens today and runs through Oct. 16, and we have a smorgasbord of cinematic offerings from which to choose. —- (Read my interview with CFF Executive Director Katharine Steele here, and my interview with writer/director/actor Leland Orser, whose debut feature Morning is screening at the festival, here.)
Apathy is not an option. Get out there and experience this rare bounty of movie riches, as your eyes, ears and head will be sore once February hits and we're stuck with two or three formulaic pieces of garbage each week.
BURIED — Rodrigo Cortes (The Contestant) and Ryan Reynolds team up to lock us in a box with Reynolds’ kidnapped defense contractor in Iraq as he attempts to figure a way out before he uses up all of his available oxygen. We’ve seen Uma Thurman (in Kill Bill) scratch and claw her way out of a coffin after being buried alive, but this time Reynolds has nothing more than a cell phone and his own wits in this far more realistic depiction of the situation. Get ready for possibly the most claustrophobic movie ever. (Opens wide today.) — tt stern-enzi (Rated R.) Review coming soon.
IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY — Based on a rich mix of smart humanist comedy and affecting drama in Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Zach Galifianakis is ready to extend his horizons. (Read full review here.) (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — tts (Rated PG-13.) Grade: B
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT — Current romantic-comedy darling Katherine Heigl is back yet again, this time playing one of two single adults (Josh Duhamel is the other) who become parents to an orphaned baby when their friends die in an accident. Will the new family thrive? Oh my, I can't wait to find out. Greg Berlanti directs a script by Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson. (Opens wide today.) — Jason Gargano (Rated PG-13.) Review coming soon.
MY SOUL TO TAKE — Longtime horror maestro Wes Craven jumps on the 3-D bandwagon with this story about guy with recurring nightmares who is supposed to die on the night his father went insane. The low-profile cast includes Emily Meade, John Magaro and Max Thieriot. (Opens wide today.) — JG (Rated R.) Review coming soon.
NEVER LET ME GO — Author and screenwriter Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later) knows how to create tension and an almost existential sense of dread from nothing more than the thoughts inside one’s head. So a film collaboration with director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) based on an acclaimed novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day) should be a surreal and dramatic vision, an especially vivid dreamscape. Yet Romanek’s film, with its romantic complications in tow, is undeniably artful but airless, lacking both a heartbeat and true soul. (Read full review here.) (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — tts (Rated R.) Grade: C-
SECRETARIAT — Slip on your rose-colored glasses and get ready for a hokey sentimental bit of pablum about a horse that might be the greatest athlete of all time. Disney has cornered the market on inspiration sports-themed stories (Glory Road, The Rookie), but rarely have the movies been infused with such astonishingly awful religious overtones. (Read full review here.) (Opens wide today.) — tts (Rated PG-13.) Grade: D-plus