Friday movie roundup: "Dark Shadows" not so bright
The collaboration of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp seems to be delivering diminishing returns.
The first pairing of the director and actor, "Edward Scissorhands," was pure magic. "Ed Wood" yielded a powerful performance, and so did "Sweeney Todd." But some of the more recent films they've done together, like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Alice in Wonderland" and now "Dark Shadows," have left something to be desired.
"Dark Shadows" is a goofy, kitschy take on the '60s Gothic soap opera, with Depp as the morose vampire Barnabas Collins, cursed to blood-sucking after spurning a witch, Angelique (Eva Green). After being buried for 200 years, Barnabas surfaces in 1972, determined to restore the Collins' good fortune to matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer) and family. The set-up is better than the payoff, and Depp has fun with Barnabas' grandiosity. But the jokes, and the thrills, fall apart in the chaotic finale. (By the way, a Utah Internet firm is involved in the movie's marketing, as the Tribune's Tom Harvey reports.)
The best of the week is "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," a charming if predictable ensemble comedy about English retirees who move into a retirement home in Jaipur, India where some embrace the lively culture and some do not. The cast is the reason to see the movie, and they include Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy (whom the Cricket interviewed).
This year's Oscar winner for documentary, "Undefeated," arrives in town today. It's a rousing feel-good story of the Manassas Tigers, an inner-city high-school football team near Memphis that went from being perpetual doormats to playing winning football. The movie profiles several of the players, but the character who comes into sharpest focus is the volunteer coach, Bill Courtney, a lumber-business owner who sacrifices his time and family commitments to lead the team and teach his players about character.
The Italian satire "We Have a Pope" could be so much more than it is. Writer-director Nanni Moretti plays a psychoanalyst who's called in to deal with an unusual client: The newly elected pope (Michel Piccoli), who has a panic attack just as his name is about to be announced to the Vatican faithful. The laughs are scattered, but Piccoli's humane performance is a treat.
Lastly, there's "Nesting," a smug little indie romantic comedy about two L.A. yuppies (Todd Grinnell, Ali Hillis) who bicker about their materialistic lives and decide to squat in the apartment they shared when they were carefree twentysomethings.