This week at the movies, we’ve got a spy on the run (Salt, starring Angelina Jolie and Liev Schreiber) and some feuding sisters (Ramona and Beezus, starring Selena Gomez and John Corbett). What do the critics have to say?
Now that the Cold War is long over, they don’t make thrillers like they used to. Oh, wait, maybe they do. The critics say Salt is a solid, meat-and-potatoes spy flick with a standout performance from Angelina Jolie — and, unfortunately, a completely preposterous plot. Jolie is Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent who goes on the run after being accused of spying for the Russians. Will she be able to prove her innocence? The pundits say Salt is an effective popcorn movie that firmly establishes Jolie in the upper echelon of action stars, bar gender. However, many also note that even popcorn movies need cohesiveness and believability, and that Salt is often tripped up by its gaping plot holes.(Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down Jolie’s best-reviewed movies.)
Filled with true-to-life vignettes and mischievous humor, the works of Beverly Cleary have long been staples of the pre-teen reading diet. Now, Ramona and Beezus is finally getting the big screen treatment, and the result, say critics, is pleasant but generic. Newcomer Joey King stars as Ramona, the irrepressible scamp that drives her big sister Beezus (Selena Gomez) up a wall with her wild imagination and penchant for making a mess. Will sisterhood ultimately win the day? The pundits say this is sweet, innocuous fare that’s well-acted and mildly amusing, but also ultimately kind of dull and sitcommy.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Mugabe and the White African, a muckraking documentary about the Zimbabwean dictator’s land reform policies, is at 100 percent.
Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child, a doc about the art star’s short and fascinating life, is at 90 percent.
Farewell, a low-key Cold War spy thriller, is at 81 percent.
Life During Wartime, Todd Solondz’s darkly comic quasi-sequel to Happiness, is at 70 percent.
Countdown to Zero, a doc about the current state of nuclear weapons arsenals, is at 67 percent.
Tirador, a verité portrait of life in the slums of Manila, is at 67 percent.