New movies this week
The gist: Finally this flick about a broken-down country musician who battles ruined marriages and alcoholism comes to town, allowing us to decide for ourselves whether Jeff Bridges deserves that Oscar. We thought that way back when Tron came out, so we're biased. R
Starring: Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall and Sarah Jane Morris.
The buzz: Did we mention that Academy Award nomination yet? "Gyllenhaal is charming and makes unexpected choices in her performance, but this is Bridges' show, and he's as Best Actor-worthy as he's ever been," the New York Daily News says.
The gist: Woody Harrelson whipsaws us from Tallahassee the zombie slayer in Zombieland to this heartfelt indie as an Army captain who mentors a soldier on casualty notification duty. It's Ben Foster's first starring role, but Woody's stealing the show with a best-supporting actor nod. R
Starring: Foster, Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Jena Malone and Eamonn Walker.
The buzz: A quiet picture with good performances that help the movie do its job. "The best war movies don't preach against war: They remind us of the costs for soldiers and families and ask us to consider whether those costs are worth paying. The Messenger does that without firing a bullet or putting us on a battlefield," the Charlotte Observer opines.
From Paris With Love
The gist: Imagine Training Day, but with the CIA in France. And John Travolta without his hairpiece. Things go boom. R
Starring: Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kasia Smutniak and Richard Durden.
The buzz: Johnny's getting credit for having fun, but the movie's kind of meh. "A 'fun trash' movie that's more trash than fun," Entertainment Weekly explains.
The gist: A soldier named John gets letters from his sweetie while deployed on missions over the course of seven years. See what they did there? PG-13
Starring: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Henry Thomas, Richard Jenkins and Keith Robinson.
The buzz: Even having three actors with Tampa Bay ties (Tatum, Mary Rachel Dudley and Jose Lucena Jr.) can't save this movie. "Awash in mawkish sentimentality, Dear John still will move you deeply — if you're a 12-year-old girl," the Arizona Republic decries. — Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org