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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

new this week in U.S., Canadian, and U.K. theaters: ‘Robin Hood,’ ‘Just Wright,’ ‘Letters to Juliet,’ ‘Lebanon,’ more (with DVD alternatives)

(It will look here like I’m trying to condense a lot of stuff — my “week at the movies” posts, my “DVD alts” posts — into one package, and that isn’t quite the case. Or maybe it is. Bear with me as I try to figure out what the hell I’m doing and what the hell is worth doing…)

U.S. AND CANADA/OPENING WIDE

Robin Hood: Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe’s take on the outlaw of Sherwood. I’m seeing this tonight — can’t wait! [trailer] review to come

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

Gladiator (2000): The first of the several collaborations of Crowe and Scott throughout the 2000s.
Robin and Marian (1976): Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn as the iconic lovers late in life.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005): Ridley Scott’s previous look at medieval life; it’s not as bad as you think it is…
The Quick and the Dead (1995): Russell Crowe takes on another historical role — as Western gunslinger — for director Sam Raimi.
Just Wright: Queen Latifah falls in love with Common, but he only loves the skinny girls. Or maybe not. [trailer] review to come

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

Last Holiday (2007): Not a great movie, but a great showcase for the awesomeness that is Queen Latifah.
Brown Sugar (2002): Another rom-com from Wright writer Michael Elliot, and also featuring Queen Latifah, though not as a romantic lead…
Street Kings (2008): I totally don’t remember Common in this, but it’s a highly intriguing, if difficult, movie that’s been overlooked.
Dogfight (1991): One of the very few films to explicitly tackle the strange notion that some men have that some women — because of how they look — don’t deserve love and romance.

Letters to Juliet: Amanda Seyfried is soooo pretty! Also: Yes, people over 40 — or 60! — are still interested in romance. Surprise! [trailer] review to come

If you can’t make it to the multiplex, try:

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003): Ugly old hag Diane Lane finds romance in Italy.
Much Ado About Nothing (1993): More romance in Italy, Shakespeare style, via Kenneth Branagh. Quite possibly one of the most life-affirming movies ever.
Romeo + Juliet (1996): Why are people writing to Juliet, anyway? Because she had this awesome doomed romance. Baz Luhrmann investigates.
Tadpole (2002): Before director Gary Winick starting making crap rom-coms (13 Going on 30, Bride Wars, hopefully not Juliet), he made this indie, about a teenaged boy who falls in love with a much older woman.

U.S. AND CANADA/OPENING LIMITED

Princess Kaiulani: The last independent ruler of Hawaii. [trailer] review to come

Looking for Eric: Ken Loach’s new comedy. Will also be available on IFC on Demand.

Daddy Longlegs: Indie dramedy about fatherhood; also debuting on demand.

U.K.

Robin Hood: (see above)

Lebanon: Winner of the Golden Lion Award at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. Drama about four young tank soldiers during the 1982 First Lebanon war.

Vincere: Mussolini had a secret lover? (available on demand in the U.S.)

American: The Bill Hicks Story: Documentary about the comedian.


Where to buy/watch:
Brown Sugar [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Dogfight [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Gladiator [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Kingdom of Heaven [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Last Holiday [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Much Ado About Nothing [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Quick and the Dead [Region 1/U.S.] [watch on demand in the U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Robin and Marian [Region 1/U.S.] [watch on demand in the U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Romeo + Juliet [Region 1/U.S.] [watch on demand in the U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Street Kings [Region 1/U.S.] [watch on demand in the U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Tadpole [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Under the Tuscan Sun [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]



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  • doa766

    the extended cut of kingdom of heaven is one of the best movies of the last decade, watch it on blu ray and it will blow your fricking mind

    no one should ever watch the theatrical version

  • MaSch

    Thanks for bringing up “Robin and Marian”, great overlooked movie.

  • Tadpole (2002): Before director Gary Winick starting making crap rom-coms (13 Going on 30, Bride Wars, hopefully not Juliet), he made this crap indie, about a teenaged boy who falls in love with a much older woman.

    There! Fixed it!;-)

    Seriously, this movie did get its share of bad critical reviews so it’s not like I’m the only one who hated it…

  • Muzz

    Yes, the Director’s Cut of Kingdom of Heaven is sheer awesomeness. How much better it is than the theatrical cut is pretty amazing all by itself. This isn’t one of those “director’s cuts” that just makes the film longer for little reason besides sales or self indulgence (ie. most of them, including those of James Cameron).
    I think Scott almost does the bidding of meddling studio idiots out of a kind of passive aggression these days. “OK, sink the movie you paid for. I don’t mind. I get paid either way. I can have a director’s cut though right?”. Some months later “Oh the DC is saving the property on DVD now? Rave reviews. Well what do you know. I’ll be sure and tell the CEO of Vivendi or whoever it was all your idea”.

    Bloom still isn’t up to the epic hero role in either case, but a great flick all the same.

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