What should I see this weekend?, 2/17-2/20


All of this weekend’s new wide releases land firmly in the “it’s OK, I guess” category, while specialty releases deliver the goods.

(SR)=Specialty Release

The Good

Beat the Devil (SR): “Beat the Devil might be an acquired taste, but film buffs will appreciate its knowing eccentricities and will be all the more delighted by having additional parts of the film now to experience.”

From Nowhere (SR): “Matthew Newton’s thoughtful, timely film follows three illegal teens from the Bronx in their legal fight to remain in U.S. for a better future. This well-written drama provides an urgently human face to the victims of an ever-growing national debate.”

Land of Mine (SR): “This well-made drama borrows a little-known sliver of history concerning Denmark’s post-war mistreatment of young German POWs forced to defuse and extract land mines off Danish beaches to make its case that people are all the same.”

Irada (SR): “Kudos to Irada for taking a stand.”

Everybody Loves Somebody (SR): “Doesn't break any new ground thematically but still manages to make an appealing addition to the rom-com genre.”

Keep Quiet (SR): "Fascinating if somewhat suspect U.K./Hungarian doc follows the journey of a former Hungarian right-wing extremist politician who becomes an Orthodox Jew after discovering his Jewish roots."

The Blah

A Cure for Wellness: “All the stylistic elements are here for a cracking Gothic tale—if only someone had swatted Verbinski with a rolled-up newspaper and told him to rein it in a little bit, my God. A Cure for Wellness is overindulgent to a fault, complete with needless repetition and subplots that go nowhere and add nothing to the overall story.”

Fist Fight: “Nerd English teacher faces off against a bully in this easygoing, underachieving comedy.”

The Great Wall: “Significant Hollywood input and Chinese money don’t prevent this lavish good-warriors-vs.-bad-monsters. legend-based action-adventure described as ‘China’s largest film ever’ from being so Chinese that American fans of the action genre may resist.”

In Dubious Battle (SR): “There is not a lot of risk-taking involved in the visual storytelling or in trying to find a cinematic equivalent of the novel’s style, making In Dubious Battle a rather classical period piece for the most part, though one with at least one very solid performance at its center… If In Dubious Battle remains watchable, it’s because [Nat] Wolff really sells his character’s doubts, growth and sobering reality checks.”

My Name is Emily (SR): “An emotion-filled coming-of-age drama that’s more impressive for the filmmaker’s personal efforts to get the movie made than the actual film itself.

American Fable (SR): “A potentially interesting story, but ultimately a tedious and pretentious film.”

XX (SR): “XX is a diverting enough sampler of female horror talent, but it won't keep anyone awake nights.”

The Ugly

Lovesong (SR): “Discretion is the better part of boredom here.”