If you don't have a date, New Year's Eve is the longest holiday of the year. Even if you do have a date, "New Year's Eve" will feel like the longest movie of the year.
It's another collection of random and cliched romantic subplots, in the same vein as last year's inexplicable hit "Valentine's Day" -- which, like this one, was directed by veteran comedy guy Garry Marshall. The unifying symbol is the ball dropping in Times Square, and getting to that moment takes an eternity.
While I was watching "New Year's Eve," not laughing at the not-jokes and not responding to the non-chemistry between co-stars, I entertained myself by considering which coupling had the most disturbing age differential. Oddly enough, it's not the 29-year gap between Michelle Pfeiffer (53) and Zac Efron (24), but the 16-year space between Katherine Heigl (33) and Jon Bon Jovi (49). You know what they say: It's not the years, it's the mileage.
The other studio movie this week -- "The Sitter," a comedy starring Jonah Hill as a slacker turned babysitter -- was not screened for critics. Draw your own conclusions.
The good stuff this week is in the art houses.
"The Skin I Live In" is the latest from Spanish bad-boy director Pedro Almodóvar, a tale of an obsessive plastic surgeon (Antonio Banderas) and his greatest creation, Vera (Elena Anaya), a beautiful woman who has been given the doctor's experimental artificial skin. The movie goes through some strange twists, which explain the source of the doctor's behavior, all seen through Almodóvar's glossy lens.
"Le Havre" is a gently offbeat story of a shoe shiner (André Wilms) who shelters an illegal immigrant (Blondin Miguel) in a French harbor town. The director, Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, delivers with a deadpan charm and deliberately flat tone that generates quiet chuckles and tears in equal measure.
Lastly, the Sundance Institute has compiled a program of seven short films from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Some are better than others, of course, but the best are well worth the time.
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