A week ago, my Netflix DVD queue was emptied, and the list of new releases didn’t include anything interesting, so I resorted to a technique I previously used to find worthy movies – i.e., I went to the Rotten Tomatoes website and queried for all 2014 movies that had received at least an 80% rating from the critics. Although many of them were not yet on DVD, a lot of them were, and I received my first two yesterday:
- Begin Again. This 2014 music-based movie is set in my favorite town, NYC, and stars one of my favorite actresses, Keira Knightley, from Pride & Prejudice Her co-stars are Mark Ruffalo and singer Adam Levine (Maroon 5) in his first film. The plot revolves around Levine breaking up with his muse Knightley, who then tries to develop her own career after being discovered by down-and-out producer Ruffalo. The Rotten Tomato critics and audience score the movie at 83%, and I agree by giving it three and a half stars out of four. Keira is exceedingly attractive; Levine is convincing as a good guy who loses a bit of his soul; and Ruffalo is someone worth rooting for. And the storyline is both interesting and credible.
- Obvious Child. This 2014 romantic comedy involves an aspiring stand-up comic, Jenny Slate, who gets dumped and then while on the rebound gets pregnant from a one-night stand. Her plan for an abortion gets complicated when the one-night guy reappears and seems like a guy worth getting to know better. This is obviously a low-budget movie with actors that lack charisma, but they know how to act and their story is captivating. The Rotten Tomato critics score the movie at 88%, while the audience is not quite as captivated at 74%. I agree with the audience and give it three stars out of four.
- First Knight. I have previously seen this 1995 romance about King Arthur and his Knights, but wanted to experience it again. What a wonderful, well-executed story, except for Lancelot’s two implausible rescues of Arthur’s wife, Guinevere. The stars Sean Connery, Richard Gere, and Julia Ormond are wonderful. Although the Washington Post says it “lurches between swashbuckling spectacular and Idyll soap opera,” and Roger Ebert calls it thin and unconvincing, and Rotten Tomatoes scores it at a mediocre 47% (critics) and 55% (audience), I thoroughly enjoyed it except for the wrong guy getting the girl at the end. I give it three and a half stars out of four.