Hiyao Miyazaki delivered a lovely, fanciful anime version of Japanese pre-World War II history with “The Wind Rises.” And it takes little away from the film to note that he scrubs Japan’s role in starting the war out of this account of the life of the engineer who designed the famed Zero fighter plane. Some reviews noted the film’s tidy and sanitized way of treating the Japanese national obsession with denying its warmongering, enslaving ways. And some didn’t.
Luc Besson’s little Franco-phobic touches are much in evidence in the dark, violent and yet sometimes hilarious “3 Days to Kill.” Only M. Luc would think torture can be funny, that taking shots at immigrant rights and lazy French police would fit into a Kevin Costner riff on “Taken.” I thought it worked well enough. Most other critics did not.
“In Secret,” a period piece love triangle that includes a murder and stars Elizabeth Olsen, Jessica Lange, Oscar Isaac and Tom Felton, earned mixed reviews. Again, I erred on the side of “it’s watchable and well-acted.” Others dumped on it.
“Pompeii” was going to have to overcome Sony’s bungled, “damaged goods” handling of the release, keeping critics from it, and the awful rep of Paul W.S. Anderson. I thought it did, a majority of critics did not.
“Barefoot” is earning awful reviews, and while I’ve seen worse, you cannot get away with making the mentally ill (or possibly mentally ill) cute on screen. Evan Rachel Wood is the “Rainman” in this “Benny & Joon” road picture romance.