Maltin is usually a movie critic whose opinion I respect, but in the Huffington Post today he wrote this:
“January and February are typically a fallow time for decent new movies–except, of course, for the considerable spillover from the late-December release of Oscar hopefuls. The best indie and foreign films now playing in theaters are the same ones I highlighted last month: Mike Leigh’s wonderful ensemble piece Another Year (now nominated for Best Original Screenplay), Blue Valentine, with its cutting-edge performances by Ryan Gosling and Oscar nominee Michelle Williams, and Rabbit Hole, David Lindsay-Abaire’s adaptation of his Pulitzer-Prize winning play about grieving parents starring Nicole Kidman (another Oscar nominee) and Aaron Eckhart.”
I’ve seen the three indies he mentions and I didn’t like any of them.
“Another Year” is a film about a middle-aged couple who go through the course of a year serving as sounding boards for their screwed up friends. Nothing happens in this movie. It has charm, don’t get me wrong, and the acting is wonderful, but there are scenes where you watch the screen and feel inspired to shriek, “Okay, already! Move this along!” I’m all for character-driven stories, but this one was a case of a director failing to use the editing scissors.
“Blue Valentine” really pissed me off and I honestly don’t get the critical acclaim for it, not to mention Michelle Williams’ Oscar nomination. It’s a self-conscious little film about two unlikable people who meet and fall in love and then fall out of love. Period. It seems to me that if you’re going to spend two hours with a couple of characters, you should find at least one of them interesting, if not downright appealing. I gave this one a big “Ugh.”
“Rabbit Hole” has some genuinely poignant moments and Nicole Kidman, playing a mother grieving for the son who died in a car accident, gives a fine performance. But this story was a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and the movie feels just as staged to the point of claustrophobia. It’s hard not to care about a story involving the death of a child or those who are suffering the loss, but that’s exactly what happened: I didn’t care. And this is coming from someone who cries at Hallmark card commercials.