Home Movies:Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Cabin in the Woods,Damsels in Distress, Delicacy, Hysteria, Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures, Katy Perry: Part of Me the Movie, Speak

September 26, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13, 125 minutes) — A favorite of AARP-eligible moviegoers, John Madden’s fable of expatriate Brits looking to fill their inner vacuums with something more in the affordably priced Third World is rife with seasoned performers who know exactly what they’ve been called on to provide. And they do so with grace and occasional aplomb, without ever winking acknowledgment that they’re in an untenably mawkish production. The result is pleasant, if not nourishing; soothing if not arresting. A fine, safe film for gran. Grade: 85

The Cabin in the Woods (R, 95 minutes) — Meta-horror conspiracy flick that’s highly inventive and good clean slasher cinema fun. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard enliven a tired form. To say more would spoil the fun for the uninitiated. Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Whitford, Fran Kranz and Richard Jenkins star. Grade: 87
Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Whitford and Fran Kranz, among others, star. Grade: 87

Delicacy (PG-13, 108 minutes) — A sweet little French film in which Audrey Tautou’ plays a widowed, workaholic businesswoman — a beauty who’s seemingly unattainable for her paunchy, balding co-worker Markus (Francois Damiens). Yet their friendship prospers,and slowly (and believably) turns into something more. As an antidote to the typical U.S. romantic comedy, you can’t do much better than Delicacy. Grade: 88

Damsels in Distress (PG-13, 99 minutes) — Whit Stillman’s agreeably quirky Damsels in Distress is a delightful, anachronistic film that imagines how a typical 1980s college comedy such as Revenge of the Nerds, Back to School or Oxford Blues might play had it been co-written by Evelyn Waugh and Ronald Firbank (whose name is dropped in the script) and executive produced by Oscar Wilde. It’s old-fashioned and arch, and the title plays off the 1937 Fred Astaire musical, A Damsel in Distress, which was based on a comic novel by P.G. Wodehouse (whose epigrammatic style is also in evidence here).
It is somewhat goofier than the handful of movies that Stillman has heretofore made — it’s more frankly theatrical and mannered, and as such likely to confuse at least some of those who revere Stillman as the preppy chronicler of — to use the term he coined in Metropolitan — the “urban haute bourgeoisie.” With Greta Gerwig, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Carrie MacLemore and Analeigh Tipton. Grade: 88

Get a Life: The Complete Series (Not rated, 840 minutes) — We don’t routinely review TV DVDs in this space, but we’ll make an exception for Chris Elliott’s ahead-of-its-time Fox comedy from the early ’90s. All you need know is Elliot plays an underemployed 30-year-old living in an apartment above his parents’ (Elinor Donahue and Bob Elliott) garage. If you’ve never seen the show give it a look — it’s absurd and at times deadly funny. Grade: 87

Hysteria (R, 99 minutes) — A very good cast — Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Pryce, Rupert Everett — in the story of a young doctor who invents a stiumlating device. Our Dan Lybarger concluded that it Hysteria “would work great as a 30- to 45-minute film but simply has neither the wit nor the insight to work as a feature” when he reviewed it for us when it opened theatrically, and since I’m in the tank for Maggie Gyllenhaal, I’ll just recuse myself on this one. Grade: 83

Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures (PG/PG-13, 481 minutes) — In case you’ve never noticed, I’m not much for fanboy hysteria. So while I think Indy is fine — especially the first two films — I’m not particularly exciting about owning definite copies of the movies for all perpetuity. Still I understand plenty of people are., So here goes: All four Indiana Jones movieson Blu-ray ! With lots of extras, including behind-the-scenes looks —with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas — at the making of all four movies, interviews and additional behind-the-scenes features. The only downside is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is also included. (Some might quibble that it can’t be “complete” since it doesn’t include any of the Young Indiana Jones material. But I’ll leave that battle to the canonists.) Grade: 88

Katy Perry: Part of Me the Movie (PG, 93 minutes) — While it’s not Don’t Look Back, directors Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz do burrow deeper than most vanity publishers in this souvenir of Perry’s lively California Dreams Tour by including some remarkable footage of an emotional Perry as her marriage to comic Russell Brand disintergrates. Of course there’s the same problem here that D.A. Pennebaker had with Dylan — everybody knows Perry is always acting, isn’t she? Anyway, it’s fascinating and if you’re a fan of the singer’s (and I would argue that she does bubble gum right) or simply interested in the starmaker machinery behind the popular song, then eat this document. Grade: 87

Speak (NR, 94 minutes) — A documentary in the mode of Wordplay and Spellbound, Speak follows six contenders as they vie for the 2008 Toastmasters International’s World Championship of Public Speaking — which we are assured is the Super Bowl of professional public speaking. Speak not only covers the competition — and the bouts with nerves and troubles with technique — but it manages to tell some affecting stories about the contestants, and follows them after the champion is crowned— which provides an impressive payoff. Grade: 88

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