What’s Seattle Saying – January 18, 2013

WhatsSeattleSayingLogoEach week, Should I See It will be looking to its left and to its right, collating the thoughts of many of the film reviewers and writers located in and around the Seattle community.

OPENING IN SEATTLE THIS WEEKEND (January 18, 2013):

  • Beasts Of The Southern Wild (re-release post-Oscar nominations)
  • Broken City
  • The Last Stand
  • Mama
  • Silver Linings Playbook (now playing everywhere)

See what the Seattle critics say about these films…after the cut!

BeastsOfTheSouthernWildPosterBEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
Starring: Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic material including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language and brief sensuality)
Genre: Fantasy/Drama
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Director: Benh Zeitlin

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a six-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.- Fox Searchlight

WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT Beasts Of The Southern Wild?

Check - YesBrian The Movie Guy, KOMO Radio/Star 101.5 FM/Brianthemovieguy.com
Backwoods bayou + Children’s imagination = Powerful journey

Check - YesRobert Horton, Everett Herald
I liked the sometimes mysterious mood of “Beasts,” which allows us to imagine how these people got to this place and why on earth they feel compelled to stay there, even if there are moments where the whole concept feels a little too precious.

Check - YesBrian Zitzelman, Examiner.com
…one of the most breathless movie experiences I had these past twelve months.

Check - YesErik Samdahl, FilmJabber
“…a well made movie with good performances and an intriguing story. It may not deserve Oscar love, but it does deserve your attention.”

Check - YesBenjamin Rendell, The MacGuffin
“It is full of wonder and magic and simply needs to be seen to be believed.”

Check - YesAllen Almachar, The MacGuffin
“By the time I walked out of Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, I knew I had seen one of best pictures of the year. Here is a story of survival, magic, and poetry, seen through the lens of a child’s wonder.”

X - NoSara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
I was left cold, more appreciative of the technical showmanship required to bring it all off and the intense vitality of the performances then I was anything else more substantive.”

Check - YesBrad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
“…I find it hard to imagine anyone could possibly walk out without having been moved by the drama you just witnessed.”

Check - YesMoira Macdonald, The Seattle Times
“Zeitlin’s film, based on a play by Lucy Alibar, feels like an utterly unique creation: You’ve never seen a heroine like Hushpuppy…or a world quite like this one…”

Check - YesIan Dinsmore, Seattleite
“Truth, humanity and creative freedom is on display here in their rawest forms and Zeitlin deserves credit for crafting one of the most affecting films of the year.”

Check - YesMichael Ward, Should I See It
“The true discovery here is Benh Zeitlin, whose work as a director, co-writer and co-composer on his first feature-length film ushers in an unparalleled vision and ambitious work ethic, deserving of our attention in the coming years.”

Beasts Of The Southern Wild was nominated for four Academy Awards, including a surprising Best Director nomination for first-time filmmaker Benh Zeitlin. Released in last July, Beasts was a relatively big success in its theatrical run and has become one of 2012′s most cited films, landing numerous appearances on Top 10 year-end lists. Praising the work of Benh Zeitlin is a common thread amongst many critics, but many also champion the debut performance by Quvenzhane Wallis, age 6 during filming, who recently became the youngest actress ever nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role. With near unanimous praise, Seattle critics loved the film, as did many reviewers nationally, scoring 86% from Rotten Tomatoes.

BrokenCityPosterBROKEN CITY
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Rating: R (for pervasive language, some sexual content and violence)
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Director: Allen Hughes

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
In a broken city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure, the mayor (Russell Crowe). Billy’s relentless pursuit of justice, matched only by his streetwise toughness, makes him an unstoppable force and the mayor’s worst nightmare..- 20th Century Fox.


WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT Broken City?

X - NoBrian The Movie Guy, KOMO Radio/Star 101.5 FM/Brianthemovieguy.com
“It’s dull, clichéd and teems with a slew of unresolved plotlines, unimaginative dialogue and uninteresting characters. BROKEN CITY is unfortunately beyond repair.”

X - NoRobert Horton, Everett Herald
“…reinforces the sense that everything’s rigged and you might as well not trust anybody anyway. I suspect it might be the latter response, which is another good reason to tear up “Broken City” and try this movie again from scratch.”

X - NoBenjamin Nason, The MacGuffin
“…the story doesn’t really add up to anything. It’s so convoluted with corruption on top of corruption, out corrupting other corruption, that you don’t even care who’s corrupt or not corrupt.”

X - NoTim Hall, The People’s Critic@SeattlePI.com
“Broken City is a slow painful build up to absolutely nothing.”

X - NoLaremy Legel, Rope Of Silicon
“Nothing makes any sense in this world, and the ground is constantly shifting toward an unreality which induces confused stares and eye-rolling.”

X - NoJohn Hartl, The Seattle Times
“But did “Broken City” have to be quite so dull and humorless and artificial?”

X - NoMichael Ward, Should I See It
“Gritty crime dramas will often dig into the seedier side of life, but they need not always be this ugly and cruel, empty-headed and irrationally conceived.”

Review by review, it seems Broken City gets panned harsher and harsher, now expected for a star-studded January film release. Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe appear to be mired in a film that is incomprehensible, misguided and vastly underwhelming. No one in our Seattle critics survey liked the film, a worse average than its dismal Rotten Tomatoes score of 24%.

LastStandPosterTHE LAST STAND
Starring: Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Johnny Knoxville, Forest Whitaker
Rating: R (for strong bloody violence throughout, and language)
Genre: Action

Running Time: 107 Minutes
Director: Kim Jee-Woon

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
After leaving his LAPD narcotics post following a bungled operation that left him wracked with remorse and regret, Sheriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) moved out of Los Angeles and settled into a life fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town Sommerton Junction. But that peaceful existence is shattered when Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), the most notorious, wanted drug kingpin in the western hemisphere, makes a deadly yet spectacular escape from an FBI prisoner convoy. At first reluctant to become involved, and then counted out because of the perceived ineptitude of his small town force, Owens ultimately rallies his team and takes the matter into his own hands, setting the stage for a classic showdown. – Lionsgate

WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT The Last Stand?

Check - YesAdam Gehrke, Adamgehrke.com
“Compelling car chase scenes with nods to action films from days gone by scream throughout, and, when it gets right down to the nitty gritty, Arnold and crew still deliver thrills with a smile.”

Check - YesBrian The Movie Guy, KOMO Radio/Star 101.5 FM/Brianthemovieguy.com
A refreshingly over-the-top and violently giddy action flick…”

Check - YesErik Samdahl, FilmJabber
“What makes an Arnold movie good is entertainment value and quality action, and The Last Stand has both.”

Check - YesAllan Almachar, The MacGuffin
“The Last Stand is one of those movies you begin to forget about as soon as you walk out of it. However, it does make for a somewhat satisfying killer of time. It’s violent, funny, and doesn’t overstay its welcome.”

Check - YesSara Michelle Fetters, Moviefreak.com
No matter how odd things gets, no matter where the joke is placed, when the guns get drawn and fists start flying the visceral impact of what is happening never bogs down, allowing the movie to exhilarate unlike any other of the actor’s efforts in what feels like a good two decades, maybe longer.

Check - YesTim Hall, The People’s Critic@SeattlePI.com
“Where (The) Last Stand lacks in plot/character development, it makes up for in pure entertainment.

X - NoBrad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
“You can be the final judge on the entertainment value, but this is direct-to-video work if I’ve ever seen it.”

X - NoSoren Andersen, The Seattle Times
“Antique formula, meet antique action star. This dino is indeed extinct, and only he doesn’t seem to know it.”

Director Kim Jee-Woon has developed a huge cult following, especially after his acclaimed I Saw The Devil became popular on home video and streaming services. His seventh feature film brings him to mainstream American audiences for the first time and Arnold Schwarzenegger takes his first leading role since 2002′s Collateral Damage. The violent action comedy has a mediocre response from critics, with our hometown movie reviewers much more in favor of the film. The Last Stand is currently ranked at 57% on Rotten Tomatoes.

MamaPosterMAMA
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Rating: PG-13 (for violence and terror, some disturbing images and thematic elements)
Genre: Horror
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Director: Andres Muschetti

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Guillermo del Toro presents Mama, a supernatural thriller that tells the haunting tale of two little girls who disappeared into the woods the day that their mother was murdered. When they are rescued years later and begin a new life, they find that someone or something still wants to come tuck them in at night. The day their father killed their mother, sisters Victoria and Lilly vanished near their suburban neighborhood. For five long years, their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain), have been madly searching for them. But when, incredibly, the kids are found alive in a decrepit cabin, the couple wonders if the girls are the only guests they have welcomed into their home..- Universal Pictures

WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT Mama?

Check - YesAdam Gehrke, Adamgehrke.com
“…this sinister tale will spook you but leave you with a smile.”

X - NoErik Samdahl, FilmJabber
“Muschietti needed to take things to the extreme and let them go haywire, or deliver a simple, standard ending.  Instead, he ends up in horror movie purgatory.”

X - NoSpencer Fornaciari, The MacGuffin
“…Mama can’t quite seem to decide what it wants to be. It builds towards being a more traditional horror film, but abruptly defuses most of the scares before they can go anywhere.

Check - YesSara Michelle Fetters, Moviefreak.com
This movie delivers the goods and goes for the jugular, and I have a feeling this is one ending I’m going to be debating, discussing and savoring for the rest of 2013.

X - NoBrad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
“…if you want to make a lyrical fairy tale then make one, don’t try to wedge in jump scares and loud noises to keep the audience on edge, it just gets in the way and prevents the film from reaching its end goal.”

X - NoMoira Macdonald, The Seattle Times
“…when you’re spending more time analyzing the main character’s tattoos and haircut than being genuinely frightened, a ghost story just doesn’t work.”

Creepy or laughable? January film releases are notoriously bad but Mama seems to be trying to reverse the trend. Andres Muschetti’s feature length debut is an expansion of his critically acclaimed 2008 short film of the same name that impressed producer Guillermo del Toro so much, he contacted Muschetti about developing it into a feature length production. Jessica Chastain may seem miscast as a goth-haired rock star but, rather surprisingly, critics are having a fair bit of fun with the film and her performance. Poorly received by and large from most members of our panel, Mama has attained a national score of 62% from Rotten Tomatoes.

SilverLiningsPlaybookSILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro
Rating: R (for language and some sexual content/nudity)
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Running Time: 122 Minutes
Director: David O. Russell

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything — his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert DeNiro) after spending eight months is a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife, despite the challenging circumstances of their separation. All Pat’s parents want is for him to get back on his feet-and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.- The Weinstein Company

WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT Silver Linings Playbook?

Check - YesAdam Gehrke, Adamgehrke.com
“Unconventional laughs also keep the ship righted and true. Definitely worth your consideration.”

Check - YesBrian The Movie Guy, KOMO Radio/Star 101.5 FM/Brianthemovieguy.com
“With its mental illness angle firmly yet delicately in place, were given an intriguing, hopeful, funny, touching, redemptive, unique and completely offbeat story of finding love in the hearts of those you’d least expect.”

Check - YesRobert Horton, Everett Herald
“A winning comedy with oddball characters, an unlikely subject, and some intentionally uncomfortable moments.”

X - NoBrian Zitzelman, Examiner.com
“The puppeteer-threads are a tad obvious now and again, climaxing in an ending that, at nicest, would qualify as contrived.”

Check - YesErik Samdahl, FilmJabber
“…one of the most pleasant and profound surprises of 2012.”

Check - YesBrad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
“After all the emotions Silver Linings takes you through — the highs and lows — it’s greatest aspect beyond performances, direction and any other kudos I could throw at it, is that while cliche and occasionally predictable, it never loses sight of reality.”

Check - YesMoira Macdonald, The Seattle Times
“Beautifully performed and always surprising, “Silver Linings Playbook” is the best kind of crowd pleaser, ending with a montage that will make all of us think of home.”

Check - YesMichael Ward, Should I See It
“And like those family members we are drawn to support and help, Pat and Tiffany win us over and give us optimism that together, they will heal, they will grow, and they will love themselves for perhaps, the very first time.”

Landing eight nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and the first film to net an acting nomination in all four categories since 1981′s Reds, Silver Linings Playbook has grossed $41 million in its two-and-a-half month theatrical run, but only now does the film see its first expansion into wide release. Universally praised by critics far and wide, Silver Linings Playbook sees a breakout performance from Cooper and the establishing of the 22-year old Jennifer Lawrence as a multi-faceted, wise beyond her years, actress to be reckoned with. With a 91% Rotten Tomatoes score, the film was equally beloved here in Seattle and is very much a contender for next month’s Oscar ceremony.

FINAL CONSENSUS:

Near unanimous praise exists for Best Picture hopefuls Beasts Of The Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook. Our Seattle critics differ from national consensus on suspense/horror film Mama and Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s action film The Last Stand. Everyone can agree on thingBroken City is broken beyond all repair.

NEXT WEEK’S WIDE RELEASES:

  • Amour (debuting in the Seattle market)
  • Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
  • Movie 43
  • Parker

What’s Seattle Saying panel of surveyed critics include:

Adam Gehrke, AdamGehrke.com
Brian The Movie Guy, KOMO Radio, Star 101.5 FM Radio and Brianthemovieguy.com
Robert Horton, Everett Herald
Brian Zitzelman, Examiner.com
Erik Samdahl, FilmJabber
Staff Reviewers from The MacGuffin
Sara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
Kathleen Murphy, MSN
Tim Hall, The People’s Critic@SeattlePI.com
Brad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
Laremy Legel, Rope Of Silicon
Staff Reviewers from The Seattle Times
Ian Dinsmore, Seattleite
Michael Ward, Should I See It

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