Cinema Showdown: January 21-23

Couch gags

Contestant #1: No Strings Attached

The Basics:

Synopsis: Two lifelong friends decide to fufill their sexual needs together, but plan to keep the romance part out of it.  Can you guess what happens next?

In Five Words: Sex, sex, love, more sex.

Cast: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes, and Greta Gerwig

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

Written by: Elizabeth Meriwether


The Buzz

Considering the pedigree of movies that have come from this genre, I’m surprised this film is doing as well as it is.  Keep in mind, “good” for romantic comedies means “meh” for other genres. Maybe it’s some good vibes still generating from Natalie Portman’s Black Swan performance, I don’t know.  Regardless, you could do worse.  Sadly…you probably couldn’t do better.

Rotten Tomatoes’ Critical Consensus: As of now, none.  Someone’s slacking over at Rotten Tomatoes.  Score stands at 48%, though.

Metacritic: Mixed or average reviews (Score: 53 out of 100)

IMDB: No Scores Attached.

The Verdict

As I’ve already stated, you could do worse then picking No Strings Attached for your midwestern date night.  Isn’t it a sad state of affairs when you can give a movie with a mediocre reception a solid recommendation?  Then again, I’d do it a hundred times for The Green Hornet, so…to each his own.  I expect more from you, Ivan Reitman and Natalie Portman.  I expect more then “alright.”

The Edge: Every other romantic comedy out there is probably worse, Natalie Portman is a great actress, Ivan Reitman is a great okay director.

The Sharp End: Ashton Kutcher, cliched to death.

Cinema Showdown Score: 3.5 out of 5

Overall: No Strings Attached should be catched at a DISCOUNTED PRICE.

Traveling Group

Contestant #2: The Way Back

The Basics:

Synopsis: Siberian gulag escapees walk 4000 miles overland to freedom in India. (Thanks for the description, IMDB).

In Five Words: Peter Weir is finally back.

Cast: Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Collin Farrell, Mark Strong, and Saoirse Ronan

Directed by: Peter Weir

Written by: Keith R. Clarke and Peter Weir (Based on the novel by Slavomir Rawicz)


The Buzz

Pretty great buzz…with some caveats, of course.  As Rex Reed of  the New York Observer put it, “No one will go away disappointed or indifferent. It’s a movie that sticks with you like Elmer’s glue.” However, Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun Times has a differing opinion, claiming “Not every incredible story makes a compelling movie.” However, a 77% Rotten Tomatoes score…I wouldn’t say that’s bad at all, would you?

Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus: “It isn’t as emotionally involving as it should be, but this Peter Weir epic offers sweeping ambition and strong performances to go with its grand visual spectacle.” (Score: 77% out of 100)

Metacritic: Generally favorable reviews (Score: 66 out of 100)

IMDB: 7.6 out of 10

The Verdict

I’ve missed Peter Weir.  They guy who brought us Master and Commander, The Truman Show, and Dead Poet’s Society is finally making a return, and I”m really looking forward to it.  I trust this guy and, even though the buzz hasn’t been universally positive, it’s still better then pretty much anything else out there.  However, good luck finding the film…its opening in less then 700 screens.  Bummer.

The Edge: Good buzz, Peter Weir, great actors.

The Sharp End: Not everybody found the film to be their cup of tea.

Cinema Showdown Score: 4 out of 5

Overall: See it when it’s still in theaters.

And the Pick of the Week is…



It’s January, folks.  We need to be thankful for ever single movie of value that we get.  So go see The Way Back, and appreciate what you have.

So congratulations, The Way Back, use the (probably small) box office reward to steal from Peter Weir.  That way…he’ll have no choice but to make more movies for a living again.  Ha ha ha.

Knife Throat

Next week, we have The Mechanic starring Jason Statham and The Rite starring Anthony Hopkins.  Maybe, if we’re lucky, the cinema gods will make one of those movies worth your money.  But…probably not.  Welcome to the haunted movie graveyard that is Spring!  Regardless, I wish you luck on your weekend movie watching endeavours, and may the cinema gods be with you!