Friday movie roundup: Hiding the January trash
The Cricket is still up in Park City for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, which ends this weekend. But Hollywood is still cranking out the regular releases this weekend.
This being January, when Hollywood likes to dump movies in hopes nobody will notice, two of this week's titles weren't screened for critics. "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" is an ultra-violent spin on the fairy-tale, with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as grown-up versions of the gingerbread-loving kids. And "Movie 43" is a "Kentucky Fried Movie"-style comedy anthology with a ton of famous actors none of whom, apparently, want to own up to their involvement.
The other big studio movie is "Parker," a loud but flat crime thriller based on the Donald E. Westlake character (created under Westlake's pseudonym Richard Stark). Parker (played by Jason Statham) is a thief with a code of honor, who decides to take revenge on his old crew (led by Michael Chiklis) when they double-cross him and leave him for dead. He enlists an eager real-estate agent (Jennifer Lopez) in West Palm Beach to find his former colleagues, who are planning a major diamond heist. Statham's action work is solid, as always, but the movie's pacing is weirdly static.
Over at the Broadway (where Sundance continues on two screens), there's "Quartet," a comedy-drama that's genteel to the point of sleepwalking. Dustin Hoffman makes his directorial debut with this story of aging musicians in an English retirement home, and the disruption when a diva (Maggie Smith) movies in and meets the residents one of them her ex-husband (Tom Courtenay). In spite of a charming cast (Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly and Michael Gambon among them), Ronald Harwood's script is a predictable slog.