Flick of the Week: A Little Bit of Heaven/Headhunters

A Little Bit of Heaven

While the concept sounds hellish—Marley (Kate Hudson), who is dying from colon cancer, finds love with her Jewish Mexican doctor (Gael Garcia Bernal) and makes peace with her family and friends—A Little Bit of Heaven is a pleasant, little, life affirming romantic comedy-drama. Sure, the upbeat Marley becomes unlikable when she mistreats her overbearing mom (Kathy Bates) and distant dad (Treat Williams) as well as her boyfriend (Bernal) and best friend (Rosemarie DeWitt). But she learns her life lessons before the final reel.

The film, set in New Orleans, does have its share of dumb moments. A cutesy episode in which Marley visits Heaven where Whoopi Goldberg as God grants her three wishes, could have been removed, but a potentially dreadful sequence where Vincent (Peter Dinklage) shows up as an escort to entertain Marley is actually quite amusing. Not unlike A Little Bit of Heaven. Nevermind the moral issues regarding the doctor-patient relationship, or the lighthearted treatment of cancer; just concentrate on Hudson’s congenial performance and the charming Garcia Bernal, who both make the most out of this saccharine material complete with shopping montages and hang gliding sequences.

Opening this Week:

The Avengers Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assembles Marvel’s Superheroes, Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) for the ultimate battle against evil.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Director John Madden assembles the superhero cast of British actors—Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, and Tom Wilkinson for a comedy-drama about retirees in the title establishment in India.

Headhunters

Set in the literally cutthroat corporate world, this bloody Norwegian caper film has executive headhunter Roger (Aksel Hennie) compensating for his perceived inadequacies by stealing art so he can afford pretty things for his pretty wife Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund). When Diana introduces Roger to the dashing Clas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a former businessman and owner of a priceless Rubens, Roger sees an end to being on the brink of bankruptcy.

The sleek Headhunters begins promisingly, with Roger talking wisely about establishing a reputation and knowing one’s own worth. However, after Roger steals the Rubens, and bodies start piling up, this devious film gets too far-fetched for its own good. Most of the action involves Clas playing cat and mouse with Roger, resulting in extended episodes involving Roger hiding in the foul end of an outhouse, killing a dog, or swapping his identity with a dead man so he can plot revenge undetected. Although Headhunters severs credibility often, there is a nifty tense staring contest between the two rivals. And despite clunky foreshadowing and obvious red herrings, there is a nice reveal in the end. But Clas is more handsome than menacing as the villain, and too much of this ambitious film is too clever by half.

Meeting Evil

This B—as in Bad—B movie has John (Luke Wilson) a failed real estate agent, meeting the domineering stranger Richie (Samuel L. Jackson) on the afternoon he is canned from his job. Richie, who abhors bad manners, a lack of courtesy, hypocrisy, and cowardice, teaches the milquetoast John to man up through a series of unethical adventures involving kidnapping, murder, and impersonating the police.

Meeting Evil is a morality play, but the morals are strictly black and white, and the characters are cardboard cutouts. John is a saintly fool, Richie is bad to the bone. The plot tries to make things more complicated by framing John for the murders Richie commits, until a possible surprise twist in the end. But there is more boredom than tension, as the filmmaker Chris Fisher provides cheap scares and cheaper filmmaking. The film lacks style and its wildly uneven tone fails to draw viewers in; it only makes them aware of the ludicrous plotting. Jackson performs his part too well; he blows everyone else off screen. The film’s only other saving grace is that most of the murders take place off screen. Nevertheless, Meeting Evil is dead on arrival.

My Way A young man dreams of being an Olympic marathon runner in this South Korean historical drama inspired by a true story.

Sound of My Voice A journalist and his girlfriend investigate a cult only to be seduced by its leader.

We Have a Pope Nanni Moretti’s film concerns a newly elected Pope questioning if he wants the office.

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Gary Kramer

Gary M. Kramer is a Philadelphia-based film critic who thinks Sandra Bullock mambos. He likes eating ethnic food and watching ethnic movies—though not necessarily both at the same time or from the same country.

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