New films in theaters this week:
— “Ajami” (not rated), a dramatic thriller following residents of a Tel Aviv outpost. Arabic with sutitles.
— “City Island” (rated PG-13), a dysfunctional family comedy-drama starring Andy Garcia.
— “Furry Vengeance” (rated PG), a family comedy starring Brendan Fraser as a harried real-estate developer.
— “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” (not rated), a documentary about the man who leaked government secrets.
— “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (rated R), a “re-imagining” of the 1984 horror hit. Jackie Earle Haley stars.
— “The Secret of the Kells” (rated PG), an Oscar nominated animated fantasy from Ireland.
Poster art courtesy Summit Entertainment
Brendan Fraser’s career has hit a new low with the idiotic “Furry Vengeance,” which combines some of the worst, computer-generated effects with a series of crude toilet jokes and painful slapstick. The film appears to have been written by the 8-year-olds it’s clearly targeting.
And the “Nightmare” remake gets the look right but none of the scares. Haley isn’t nearly threatening enough as the knife-gloved dream killer Freddy Krueger, and there’s too much back story for the character.
Luckily, there are better options out there for discriminating audiences. “Ajami” uses the same multiple-viewpoints-of-the-same-scene gimmick of “Rashomon” and “Pulp Fiction,” and has interesting characters. “Most Dangerous Man” is smart enough to let the subject tell his story in his own words. And “City Island” is surprisingly smart and funny, and both Garcia and Julianna Margulies are terrific.
Poster art courtesy GKIDS
Arguably the week’s best film is “The Secret of the Kells,” a traditionally animated fantasy based on Irish legends. It’s a beautiful looking movie, one whose unique design makes up for any storytelling deficiencies and a lack of energy.
Which, if any, of these movies fit into your weekend viewing plans?