This week at the movies, we’ve got courageous Crusaders (Season of the Witch, starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman) and a country comeback (Country Strong, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw ). What do the critics have to say?
Say what you will about Nicolas Cage, but give the man credit: at a time when too many movie stars studiously protect their images, he’s unafraid to look ridiculous. Sometimes, his devil-may-care attitude pays off (see Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans), and sometimes, well, we get stuff like Season of the Witch, a Medieval action flick that critics say is too dull to qualify as so-bad-it’s-good kitsch. Cage and Ron Perlman star as former Crusaders who are tasked with protecting and transporting a woman accused of being witch to a remote monastery; on their arduous journey, they must contend with wolves, zombies, and the black plague. The pundits say Season of the Witch is bottom-of-the barrel fantasy fare, with cheesy dialogue, so-so special effects, and a general air of silliness. (Check out Cage’s Five Favorite Films, as well as this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Perlman’s best-reviewed movies.)
A lot of country songs are great not for their originality, but because they’re infused with passion and craftsmanship. The same holds true for plenty of movies, but unfortunately for Country Strong, it can’t transcend its clichés, devolving into a showbiz melodrama despite good performances and heart-on-its-sleeve sincerity. Gwyneth Paltrow stars as Kelly Canter, a country superstar fresh from rehab; still shaky, she embarks on a tour, with hot young singer Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund), overseen by her manager/ex-husband James (Tim McGraw). Can our heroine overcome romantic entanglements and the bottle to reclaim her place atop the charts? The pundits say the leads give it their all, and the music is toe-tapping, but Country Strong is undone by meandering pacing and a slavish adherence to soapy formula.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune, a documentary about the life and times of the overlooked 1960s folk singer, is at 100 percent.
The Time That Remains, a generation-spanning dramedy about a Palestinian family, is at 77 percent.
If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle, Romanian drama about a young man about to be released from prison, is at 57 percent.