One wide release comedy and a marvelous adaptation of a popular novel were the main releases this week .
HOT PURSUIT – A buttoned down female detective must escort a free spirited drug boss’ widow before her testimony in this road comedy . This one gets by on smart casting with Reese Witherspoon holding it in as the cop while Sofia Vergara(Modern Family) is off the leash as the wide mouthed ,English mangling, widow. Fun but never really very funny thanks to a screenplay that isn’t up the antics of the stars.
UNFRIENDED – Several friends are stalked by the ghost of a fallen acquaintance while face chatting in this cyber thriller. This is low budget filmmaking in the ‘Blair Witch Project ” mode. While that film pioneered VHS tech this one employs face chatting and will probably not appeal to those who haven’t embraced the technology. That said it is a decent horror yarn on its own merits .
MATCH – A smart play becomes a stagy film about a young couple who show up at the home of a retired dancer saying they have come to interview him. This works thanks to a solid cast that finds Patrick Stewart in fine form as the flamboyant ex-hoofer and Mathew Lilliard and Carla Cugino as the couple. Wordy but a better bet for your TV set than the cinema.
JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL- Susanna Clarke’s excellent novel about magicians in nineteenth century England makes for a fine mini-series here that premiered on the BBC. The story is faithful to the novel as it charts the relationship between two magicians who become rivals while being manipulated by a magical being whom is whimsical and deadly. Fans of the book will enjoy the attention to detail and newcomers will be just as welcome thanks to a well captured period setting and expert performances.
Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.