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“Blue Jasmine” – Woody Allen’s saddest movie ever, and one of his best. The Academy might as well give Cate Blanchett the Oscar now since it’s doubtful that anyone else will come down the pike in the next four months who gives a more impressive performance by an actress in a leading role. The killer–and wildly eclectic–supporting cast includes everyone from Sally Hawkins to Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K. and (no kidding, he’s really great) Andrew Dice Clay (A).
“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” – Idiotic tweener piffle based on Cassandra Clare’s best-selling YA series. What hath the wildly successful “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” franchises wrought? Thud (D).
“You’re Next” – A horror flick that lives up to its pre-release hype? And one that’s actually, y’know, scary? What a concept. Adam (“A Horrible Way to Die”) Wingard’s home invasion thriller has not one, but two diabolically clever plot twists you’ll never see coming, a delicious, Dario Argento/Goblins-esque soundtrack and Dwight Twilley’s “Looking for the Magic” as a witty musical leit motif. An instant classic, and arguably the best horror movie in years (A).
New on DVD:
“The Great Gatsby” – Baz Luhrmann’s candy-coated adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel has style and attitude to burn, and a Jay Gatsby to die for in Leonardo DiCaprio’s magnificent, magnetic lead performance. Who cares if Carey Mulligan’s Daisy is a trifle wan? Luhrmann provides such a veritable feast for the senses you’ll hardly notice that his lead actress tends to recede into the woodwork (B+).
“Pain and Gain” – “Fargo” meets the Three Stooges in Michael Bay’s truth-is-stranger-than-fiction true-life account of a trio of Miami juiceheads (Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie and a never-better Dwayne Johnson) whose kidnapping of a sleazy real estate mogul (Tony Shalhoub) brings them a world of pain and precious little gain. Flamboyantly stylish and sometimes laugh out loud funny, this is easily critics’ punching bag Bay’s crowning achievement to date. (A-).