Our capsule reviews for ‘Arthur Christmas’, ‘Chalet Girl’, ‘The Descendants’, ‘My Week with Marilyn’, and ‘We Were Here’ ~
The following quotes were pulled from reviews written by AZ Weekly Entertainment Magazine in Phoenix, AZ’s Film Section contributors to present readers with a wider perspective about this weekend’s new releases.
At 27 years old, Joseph J. Airdo is a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism graduate with a degree in media analysis and criticism. Randy Montgomery, 34, works in media and marketing and holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Education. And, at 65 years old, Stan Robinson is a retired First Assistant Director with more than 22 years of experience in film and media production.
Read their full reviews of these and other movies exclusively online at lodeplus.com, AZWeeklyMagazine.comand ScreenScene.org, respectively.
Santa’s (Jim Broadbent) youngest son (James McAvoy) undertakes an urgent Christmas mission. Also featuring the voice talents of Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton. (PG – 100 minutes)
Stan: “A delightful spin on the familiar theme of ‘How does Santa deliver all those gifts worldwide in one night’, the latest from Aardman Animations, weaves those aspects of familiarity of the traditional holiday into a modern high-tech presentation that the kids of today can certainly relate to. ‘Arthur Christmas’characters presents a couple of generations as they cope with the holiday, just as we do on a generation basis in our modern world of today.”Grade: B
Joseph: “‘Arthur Christmas,’ the latest feature-length film from Aardman Animations, certainly has the studio’s trademark wit and, as such, provides plenty of laughs. However, unlike Aardman’s previous efforts such as ‘Chicken Run,’ ‘Wallace & Gromit’ and ‘Flushed Away,’ ‘Arthur Christmas’ is utterly unoriginal, possessing as many stolen ideas as the Grinch possesses stolen Who belongings. Moreover, the movie blatantly disregards tradition, exhibiting very little of the heart for which the holidays are known best in favor of merry modern-day mayhem.”Grade: C
While working a job at an exclusive ski resort, a young woman (Felicity Jones) learns to snowboard and is so good at it that she enters a competition with a huge cash prize. Playing exclusively at The Royale. (NR – 96 minutes)
Joseph: “Fresh off of a serious role in this fall’s romantic drama ‘Like Crazy,’ Felicity Jones tries her hand at something a bit lighter in the romantic comedy ‘Chalet Girl.’ And while there is no denying that the former film is far more significant than the latter, it is nice to see that the actress is capable of not only the emotional intensity that comes with playing a complex character but also the simple charisma that tends to make formulaic flicks like this work. In other words, unlike any given snowflake, ‘Chalet Girl’ is not unique but its target audience will melt over it nonetheless.”Grade: C
A man (George Clooney) simultaneously struggles with the decision to pull the plug on his comatose wife while facing pressure from relatives to sell 25,000 acres of unspoiled Hawaiian land. Playing exclusively at Harkins Camelview 5. (R – 115 minutes)
Stan: “Director Alexander Payne weaves a delicate web as key elements of family, reconnecting, and ultimately forgiveness, provides insightful characters as each are forced to face the humanness and frailties that so easily shift based on emotional states of mind at anytime as the circumstantial catalysts change. A key element, we as viewers examine and reaffirm our own perceptions as the central characters discover theirs.”Grade: B
Joseph: “In spite of the soothing sound of Hawaiian serenades threatening to send most moviegoers into a slumber, filmmaker Alexander Payne’s latest dramedy ‘The Descendants’ is a poignant portrayal of the pain that is possible even in paradise. That is to say that the new motion picture, while easing our emotions with a few light laughs, tackles the topics of death and forgiveness in an exceptionally honest way. Unfortunately, a real estate subplot that Payne probably hoped would help his story speak to people on a spiritual level instead inhibits the movie’s intimacy thereby reducing its resonance, if only slightly.”Grade: B
‘My Week with Marilyn’
A production assistant (Eddie Redmayne) introduces Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) to the pleasures of British life during the filming of “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Playing exclusively at Harkins Camelview 5. (R – 101 minutes)
Stan: “Although the ensemble cast give very credible performances, the overall feel and finer nuances that director Simon Curtis presents, is a ‘You are there’ edginess that transcends the period time setting of England just after the war as cinema strives to again maintain its relevance and delivers insightful caricatures of Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) and Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), and a reminder for this reviewer by the character of Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) of my first job on a movie set as a production assistant so many years ago.”Grade: B+
Joseph: “Anchored by a impeccable performance by Michelle Williams, director Simon Curtis’s drama ‘My Week with Marilyn’ is as enchanting as it is fascinating. This is especially true of the scenes that take place on the set of Marilyn Monroe’s movie ‘The Prince and the Showgirl.’ Having said that, writer Adrian Hodges’s screenplay, which is based on Colin Clark’s books, eventually exits said set and the story sags while losing its significance. Fortunately, Williams is present to pick up the pieces.”Grade: B
‘We Were Here’
Filmmakers David Weissman and Bill Weber chronicle the effect of AIDS on San Francisco’s gay community and show how five survivors reacted to the devastation wrought by the epidemic. Playing exclusively at Harkins Valley Art. (NR – 90 minutes)
Randy:“A strong contender for ‘Best Documentary,’ ‘We Were Here’ is an emotional look at the early days of the AIDS crisis. The story is passionately told through those that lived through the free, then uncertain times. The disease touched the lives of everyone in the film we meet and each of their stories is just as moving.” Grade: A
Stan: “A compelling look back by survivors, at that time in the 60’s, when San Francisco became the safe haven for the gay community and the effects of AIDS as it takes a foothold in the ‘utopian world of freedom’ felt by the residents, tugs at one’s heart as the futility of living life takes center stage.”Grade: B