Friday’s Flicks

Opening films for Dec. 22:

Charlotte’s Web: Not screened for review

Cocaine Cowboys: Not screened for review

Eragon: C-

The Pursuit of Happyness: A

Flick of the Week: The Pursuit of Happyness

I’m hesitant to recommend a film I’ve yet to see, but the options are pretty thin this week. The Pursuit of Happyness’ trailer looks like earnest, Oscar-bait mush, yet it has its admirers. (See TT Stern-enzi’s review above, and New York Magazine’s highly dependable David Edelstein actually had it on his Year in Movies top 10 list.)

Making matters worse, it’s based on one of those too-good-to-be-true stories about an actual guy who teetered on the edge of the abyss only to pull through by the sheer will of his (and his son’s) undying spirit. Oh, and it features a real-life father-and-son acting duo (Will and Jaden Smith), which is rarely a good idea.

Yet I was surprised by the elder Smith’s dramatic chops as Ali in Michael Mann’s otherwise so-so biopic, and expect Italian director Gabriele Muccini to at least give this American tale a unique, outsider spin.

Speaking of Edelstein, it’s interesting that he tops his list with “Iraq in Movies,” a catch-all pick that includes Andrew Berends’ The Blood of My Brother, James Longley’s Iraq in Fragments, Robert Greenwald’s Iraq for Sale and Deborah Scranton’s The War Tapes. None had a proper theatrical release in the Cincinnati area, and only Iraq for Sale had any type of a local screening (in the Southgate House’s Parlour and other such nontraditional venues).

Why the lack of distribution? I’ll leave that answer up to you.

— Jason Gargano

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