This Week’s Movies To See Right Now

Ruth Sheen and Jim Broadbent in Mike Leigh's Another Year

There are more excellent movies in the theaters RIGHT NOW than any other time of the year.  Right now, you can see Another Year, True Grit, The King’s Speech, Black Swan, The Way Back, Somewhere, Biutiful, The Fighter, Rabbit Hole and Fair Game.  It just doesn’t get any better than this for movie fans.

True Grit is the Coen Brothers’ splendid Old West story of Mattie Ross, a girl of unrelenting resolve and moxie played by 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld in a breakthrough performance, and Jeff Bridges is perfect as the hilarious, oft-besotted and frequently lethal Rooster Cogburn. The King’s Speech is the crowd pleasing story of a good man (Colin Firth) overcoming his stammer to inspire his nation in wartime with the help of a brassy commoner (Geoffrey Rush). Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan is a rip roaring thriller and a showcase for Natalie Portman and Barbara Hershey.   Another Year is Mike Leigh’s brilliant observation of the human condition, and asks why some people find contentment and others just cannot; Lesley Manville has the flashiest role – and gives the most remarkable performance – as a woman whose long trail of bad choices hasn’t left her with many options for a happy life.

Biutiful is a grim, grim movie with a great performance by Javier Bardem in a compelling portrait of a desperate man in desperate circumstance, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Amores perros, 21 Grams, Babel).

Somewhere is Sofia Coppola’s (Lost in Translation) artsy portrait of a man so purposeless that he can find no pleasure in pleasure.  An A-list movie star (Steven Dorff) is living at the Chateau Marmont with his expensive toys, booze and drugs and an inexhaustible supply of beautiful, sexually available women, but without Without any purpose or connection to others, his debauchery is completely joyless.  To his surprise and discomfort,  his eleven-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) moves in for a few weeks.

The Way Back is inspired by the story of a 1940 escape from a Siberian gulag by men who walk over 4,000 miles to freedom in India – a trek of 4000 miles.  It’s beautifully shot by director Peter Weir (Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Year of Living Dangerously, Witness, Master and Commander) but, eleven months of trudging through dangerous, unfamiliar territory while suffering from starvation and exposure is really impressive, but not that engaging.

I strongly recommend Rabbit Hole, an exquisite exploration of the grieving process with great performances by Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhardt, Diane Wiest, Sandra Oh and Miles Tenner. The Fighter is an excellent drama, starring Mark Wahlberg as a boxer trying to succeed despite his crack addict brother (Christian Bale) and trashy mom (Melissa Leo). Fair Game, the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson story with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, is also excellent. All are on my list of Best Movies of 2010.

I Love You, Phillip Morris is an entertaining offbeat combo of the con man, prison and romantic comedy genres. Red Hill is a stylish contemporary Aussie Western. Season of the Witch is a bad Nicholas Cage/Ron Perlman buddy movie set among the plague, crusades and witch hunts of the 13th century.

For trailers and other choices, see Movies to See Right Now.

You can see trailers of upcoming films at Movies I’m Looking Forward To.

My DVD pick is The Trip. For my recent DVD choices (including trailers), see DVDs of the Week.

Movies on TV include Little Big Man, Bad Day at Black Rock, The Dirty Dozen, Marty The Wild Bunch, Five Easy Pieces and The Last Detail on TCM.

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