This week at the movies, we’ve got Internet pioneers (The Social Network, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake), a juvenile vampire (Let Me In, starring Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee), and a dangerous family (Case 39, starring Renée Zellweger and Ian McShane). What do the critics have to say?
In only a few short years, Facebook has morphed from a campus-wide phenomenon to revolutionizing the way that we communicate and share information. If The Social Network offers an embellished account of the site’s genesis, critics say it’s still a remarkable piece of filmmaking — David Fincher’s virtuoso direction and Aaron Sorkin’s brisk, intelligent script make the Certified Fresh The Social Network one of the best-reviewed films of the year. Jesse Eisenberg stars as Mark Zuckerberg, an ambitious Harvard kid whose ocial networking experiments attract attention beyond Cambridge. But did this somewhat geeky computer wiz crib his big idea from some of his less-ruthless pals? The pundits say The Social Network is the rare history lesson that feels up-to the-minute, thanks to Fincher’s bravura direction and some fine performances from Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Fincher’s complete filmography.)
It’s inevitable that when Hollywood gets its grubby hands on an acclaimed foreign language film, the result will be a pale, dumbed-down shadow of the original, right? Not so fast; critics say Let Me In, Matt Reeves’s remake of the Swedish Vampire masterpiece Let the Right One In, is a fine film in its own right, an eerie, poignant thriller that makes for a nice companion piece to its source. Let Me In stars Kodi Smit-McPhee as a lonely middle schooler in New Mexico who’s the victim of frequent bullying. He takes solace in the company of a girl from the neighborhood (Chloe Moretz), but there’s something a little off about her — why has her arrival coincided with a series of brutal killings? The pundits say the Certified Fresh Let Me In is filled with outstanding performances — particularly the two young leads — and if it doesn’t quite pack the punch of the original, Let Me In maintains its predecessor’s mix of bloody disquiet and pre-adolescent angst.
Horror fans must have a thing for creepy kids; in addition to Let Me In, we’ve got the long-delayed release of Case 39> this week. Unfortunately, critics say this supernatural chiller is bogged down by a weather-beaten plot and several unintentionally hilarious moments. Renée Zellweger stars as a social worker who takes a seemingly abused little girl (Jodelle Ferland) into her care; soon, however, a series of sinister events force her to reevaluate the nature of the child. The pundits say director Christian Alvart has a knack for spooky atmospherics, but mostly, Case 39 suffers from predictability and an absence of real scares.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Nuremberg, a remarkable archival documentary about the Nazi war crimes tribunal, is at 100 percent.
Ip Man, a biopic of the founder of wing chun kung fu, is at 82 percent.
Freakonomics, an omnibus documentary based on the bestseller by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, is at 52 percent.
Douchebag, an indie road trip comedy about a man’s quest for his fifth-grade girlfriend, is at 45 percent.
Hatchet II, a grisly, campy horror comedy that picks up where its predecessor left off, is at 24 percent.