Trailer Park: THE SQUARE, ONDINE and EAT, PRAY, LOVE
By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic
Modern noir thriller from Australia about an adulterous couple who find themselves wrapped up in a high-stakes robbery. Written by actor-turned-screenwriter Joel Edgerton and directed by his brother, Nash.
Turn-ons: Locally, I've heard plenty of good buzz about this tiny film, which is set to open in Philadelphia this weekend. There's not much to declare after watching this run-of-the-mill trailer, but the color palette and the shadowy, craggy faces of what appear to be carefully selected actors suggest the Edgertons have a strong sense of what they're putting up on the screen.
Turn-offs: If there is something particularly exceptional about this film, the trailer doesn't convey it. Also, the only critical praise comes from CitySearch (which I've never heard of), OK! Magazine (a gossip rag) and Harry Knowles (the Web's preeminent geek reviewer), implying that the makers were scrounging for good ink.
Fantasy-drama about an Irish fisherman (Colin Farrell) who discovers a mysterious woman (Alicja Bachleda) in his net and believes she may me a water nymph. Based on the Ondine legend, the film is written and directed by Neil Jordan ("The Crying Game").
Turn-ons: As was recently pointed out by a publication I can't remember (probably Entertainment Weekly), Farrell is currently doing the best work of his career, and this brief glimpse suggests "Ondine" will attest to that. Jordan is, generally, a smart and provocative filmmaker, and he may just bring a dark and distinct point of view to what on the surface seems like a typical fairy tale. (The scenery doesn't hurt, either.)
Turn-offs: On the other hand, things could easily take the cute-and-cuddly family film road, with predictability, treacly morals and wise-kid cliches in tow.
EAT, PRAY, LOVE
Julia Roberts stars in the big-screen adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling 2006 memoir about finding oneself on the other side of the world. Slated for a summer release, the film is directed and co-written by Ryan Murphy, the guy behind TV's "Nip/Tuck" and "Glee," and another memoir adaptation, "Running with Scissors."
Turn-ons: Any movie watcher who tells you he's not excited about Roberts' first marquee-dominating role since "Mona Lisa Smile" is lying to you. Also, the stunning locales of Italy, India and Bali promise to be easy on the eyes, especially given what seems to be a fondness for ethereal, feathery lighting. Top that with an embarrassment of strong supporting actors, including Viola Davis, James Franco, Javier Bardem and Richard Jenkins.
Turn-offs: Murphy didn't exactly do a bang-up job translating Augusten Burroughs' "Scissors," and while having another go at the same type of project is admirable, it simply might not be his forte. In addition, though "Eat, Pray, Love" addresses universal themes and was embraced by millions, it does have a certain air of upper-class entitlement, making a heroine out of a well-to-do woman who runs away from troubles that, compared to those of others, don't seem all that troublesome to begin with.