Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
The Cricket
Sean P. Means
Sean is the movie critic and columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @moviecricket.

» E-mail

» Subscribe (RSS)




This undated publicity film image provided by Focus Features shows Matt Damon starring as Steve Butler in Gus Van Sant's contemporary drama, "Promised Land," a Focus Features release. (AP Photo/Focus Features, Sam Jones)
Friday movie roundup: Facing 'The Impossible'

The first movie weekend of 2013 brings some of the potential heavy hitters in this year's Oscar race. (By the way, The Cricket examines that race with his fearless predictions of next week's nominations.)

The best movie of the week is also the toughest to watch: "The Impossible," a beautifully realized depiction of a harrowing real-life survival story. Spanish director J.A. Bayona ("The Orphanage") follows the plight of a family – led by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor – whose Christmas vacation in Thailand is cut short when they are caught up in the carnage of the 2004 tsunami. The stunning effects re-create the gruesome toll of the tsunami, while the performances (particularly by Watts and young Tom Holland as the oldest son) are moving.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Another great movie is "The House I Live In," a hard-hitting and personal documentary about "The War on Drugs," and what 40 years of a get-tough policy has done to America. Director Eugene Jarecki examines the toll on families, while diligently chronicling the dark motives behind the policies and the voices of experts in the field who say those policies aren't working.

Gus Van Sant's drama "Promised Land" takes on another hot-button issue – the environmental dangers of "hydraulic fracturing," or "fracking" to produce natural gas – but in a tepid presentation. The focus is on Steve (Matt Damon), a nice-guy salesman for a giant gas company, working to get locals in a rural New York town to sign drilling leases while an environmentalist (John Krasinski) campaigns against him. The script, by Damon and Krasinski, presents the issues directly, but the focus is on Steve's moral dilemma as a good guy in a bad job.

"Not Fade Away" is the directing debut of David Chase, the creator of "The Sopranos," and it's a fond valentine to his teen rock 'n' roll dreams in '60s New Jersey. It centers on Douglas (John Magaro), who rebels against his working-class dad (James Gandolfini) to pursue his wish to be in a rock band. The plot is one cliché after another, but the atmosphere is perfectly realized – thanks largely to a soundtrack curated by Chase's consigliere, Steven Van Zandt.

"Hyde Park on Hudson" is a misfire of historic farce, with Bill Murray playing Franklin Roosevelt as a happy host to the British royals – King George VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) – while also starting an affair with a distant cousin (Laura Linney). The forced comedy and drippy romance are a poor mix, and the usually lively cast is left high and dry.

Lastly, there's "Texas Chainsaw 3D," the latest installment of the horror franchise. It was not screened for critics.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
 
Jobs
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.