New Releases: February 5

1. Dear John (Sony/Screen Gems, 2,969 Theaters, 105 Minutes, Rated PG-13): The words “From the people who brought you The Notebook should be all this film needs to succeed. That film is unusually popular for some reason. And this one appears to be the same kind of sappy romance.

It was adapted from a novel by Nicholas Sparks, the same novelist that wrote the novel, The Notebook, but this film is not directed by Nick Cassavetes, but by Lasse Hallstrom. Which is a bit shocking.

With films such as My Life as a Dog, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules, and Chocolat on his resume, one would expect that his career would follow along an Oscar worthy path. His doing such a soapy romance seem like a major step down. He will probably earn more money doing these kinds of films, but still. 

What’s the film about? A soldier falls in love with a girl while home on leave.

2. From Paris With Love (Lionsgate, 2,722 Theaters, 92 Minutes, Rated R):It seems like John Travolta has become comfortable that his comeback will stick. The last couple roles of his feature him instead of acting developing a weird hairstyle, chewing scenery left and right, and basically phoning it in other wise. The Taking of the Pelham 1 2 3 fits this bill, Old Dogs featured him with a relatively normal hairstyle but basically cashing a paycheck and then you have this one, where he looks like a freak.

Of course, he’s playing an FBI agent trying to stop a terrorist attack in Paris, so the look doesn’t really match up with the job. But, hey, whatever gets him paid I guess is okay with him.

If Travolta somehow tried not to have his physical appearance do the acting for him, this film looked like it had the potential to be a fun shoot ’em up like, well, Shoot ‘Em Up. But, as it is, Travolta’s style and recent film choices make me very wary.

3. Crazy Heart (Fox Searchlight, 819 Theaters, 112 Minutes, Rated R): The week after the Oscar nominations is when the smaller films that received some nominations start rolling out to larger releases. This film received three nominations, including one for Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The other nomination was for Best Original Song.

Bridges plays a country singer battling with a number of demons. Gyllenhaal plays a journalist who inspires him to fight these demons.

Bridges, a five-time Oscar nominee, is the early favorite to walk away with a statue on Oscar night. If you want to see why, go see this one if it opens near you. 

4. An Education (Sony Classics, 760 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated PG-13): This film shares more in common with Crazy Heart than being a film nominated for three Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actress for Carey Mulligan, and Best  Adapted  Screenplay) to open wide this week. It also stars Peter Sarsgaard, who is married to Crazy Heart‘s Maggie Gyllenhaal. Small world, huh?

The film is based on the memoir of journalist Lynn Barber a details the adventures of young British girl in pursuit of the dream of an Oxford education. Her world is turned upside down with the arrival of David Goldman, a slick playboy who is quite a bit older than she is. Their casual acquaintance soon turns to love and then turns to the prospect of marriage. Has she thrown her dreams of an education away for a new set of dreams? Or is everything not what they seem?

All the reviews rave about the screenplay (by Nick Hornsby) and Mulligan’s performance, so both nominations seem worthy. Check the film out and see if you agree.

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About Rich Drees 7217 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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