What should I see this weekend?, 11/24-11/27

ScreenerBlog

Moviewise, there’s a lot to be thankful for this holiday weekend. Here’s what our reviewers recommend for those looking to drag themselves out of a food coma and into a theatre.

(SR)=Specialty Release

The Good

Moana: “Disney's winning streak continues with Moana, a warm, friendly adventure destined for blockbuster success. Set in the South Pacific, it dresses up its familiar empowerment formula with psychedelia and hip-hop while remaining deeply respectful of local cultures. Ambitious to a fault, Moana is endearing despite its occasional flaws.”

Lion: “Powerfully told, true-life epic of a five-year-old boy from rural India who gets lost and then found in the mean streets of Calcutta, and who, 25 years later, becomes a privileged young man from Australia who cannot find peace—or love—until he reconnects with the family he lost as a child. Could be a strong award-season contender.”

Allied: “Two giant, easy-on-the-eyes Hollywood stars. A dangerous mission. Luscious production design. And an impossible wartime love story, filled with passion and deception. Turns out they can make espionage thrillers like they used to. Well, at least to a degree, save for an uneven script.”

Bad Santa 2: “Raunchy, rude and politically incorrect, Bad Santa 2 arrives in time for the holidays like an outcast uncle making an impromptu visit. For those who’ve endured the long gap between Bad Santa movies like kids eagerly anticipating Christmas, this sequel brings it on like Saint Nick’s overstuffed bag of goodies, with plenty to entertain (and offend) everyone.”

Always Shine (SR): “In her second feature as director, prolific indie actress Sophia Takal uses a world she presumably knows well—of aspiring female thesps who must always rank their own talent and desirability against others in their age group while the promising-newcomer expiration date approaches—as the starting point for a thriller whose stylistic flourishes betray ambitions beyond milking genre audiences for an easy buck.”

On the Map (SR): “An engaging documentary about an unlikely Israeli basketball team beating the odds.”

Baden Baden (SR): “Writer-director Rachel Lang and star Salomé Richard manage to craft an intriguing feature debut filled with keen observations and slices of dark humor, in a work that may stretch the patience of certain viewers while pleasing fans of stark art-house narratives.”

Evolution (SR): “[Writer/director Lucile Hadzihalilovic] delivers another disturbing mélange of experimental genre filmmaking and adorable, tortured French kids, offering up a trippy visual feast that satisfies on an aesthetic level, if not always on a narrative one.”

The Blah

Miss Sloane: “A fast-moving, fun movie exploring the nasty machinations of a female lobbyist (Jessica Chastain) who is at once intriguing and a trifle grating.”

Seasons (SR): “The third Perrin-Cluzaud documentary on the wild kingdom is striking to look at, but is less dusted with magic.”

Tank 432 (SR): "A group of mercenaries transporting a pair of prisoners are terrorized by mysterious forces in this claustrophobic thriller with a disappointing payoff."

The Ugly

Apparition Hill (SR): "In effect, Apparition Hill is just a series of religious speeches—and a drearily repetitive series at that."