New movies this week
The gist: In a nation torn apart by war, on the cusp of great social change for good or ill, a president hailed as a hero by half the country and a villain by the other struggles to push forward his vision for the country. No, we're talking about the 16th president, not the 44th (although we've read Lincoln is President Obama's greatest hero). The ending is a killer, though. PG-13
The cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, James Spader, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Hal Holbrook.
The buzz: Steve Spielberg makes a biopic that has some punch. "There is nothing bravura or overly emotional about Spielberg's direction here, but the impeccable filmmaking is no less impressive for being quiet and to the point," the L.A. Times says.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2
The gist: Sparkly vampires and supernatural sexcapades draw to a close, as mouthbreather Bella must find a way to keep her new family safe. Getting that shirtless werewolf boy to guard you for the rest of your life is a pretty good deal. PG-13
The cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser and Ashley Greene.
The buzz: Mercy be, it's finally over. Until Stephenie Meyer writes another one. "This fifth and mercifully final installment features so much idle anticipation that it's unclear whether we're watching a movie or an Apple product launch," the Boston Globe needles.
The gist: An autobiographical story about a 38-year-old man stuck in an iron lung who wants to lose his virginity, so he hires a sex surrogate. That's a much more respectful method than getting a hooker. R
The cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks and Adam Arkin.
The buzz: A respectful look at sex and sex scenes, even if some storytelling liberties have been taken. "The Sessions is a pleasant shock: a touching, profoundly sex-positive film that equates sex with intimacy, tenderness and emotional connection instead of performance, competition and conquest," the New York Times notes.
This Must Be the Place
The gist: A 50-year-old Goth rocker hiding in Ireland who has to go back to New York after his father dies and face the fact he is a 50-year-old Goth rocker hiding in Ireland. R
The cast: Sean Penn, Judd Hirsch, Eve Hewson, Kerry Condon, Harry Dean Stanton and Frances McDormand.
The buzz: A weird indie that sorta works, sorta doesn't. "Negotiating a consistent artistic path as steadily as a drunk walking a straight line, This Must Be the Place is all over the place dramatically, tonally and thematically," the Hollywood Reporter says.
A Late Quartet
The gist: A string quartet about to play a concert celebrating its 25th anniversary performing together has to stay in one piece as egos swell and tempers flare following a bad diagnosis for their cellist. R
The cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots and Madhur Jaffrey.
The buzz: A few slow movements, but overall fairly thunderous. "Although the crises are too precious, the performances are treasures, led by Christopher Walken in a surprisingly gentle, soulful key as the group's senior member," Entertainment Weekly says.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org