Local critics split on 'Pi', 'Karenina,' find silver lining in 'Playbook'


Audiences will have plenty of new films to feast on this Thanksgiving weekend as several major releases kick off the holiday movie season Wednesday including "Life of Pi," "Anna Karenina" and "Silver Linings Playbook."

The 3-D "Life of Pi" is an epic adventure based on Yann Martel's 2001 best seller about a zookeeper's son who embarks on an amazing journey with a Bengal tiger aboard a lifeboat after the sinking of their ocean freighter.

In his four-star review, Colin Covert of the Star Tribune says director Ang Lee "transforms this inconceivable premise into visual poetry, high adventure and sheer enchantment."

While Chris Hewitt of the Pioneer Press praises the film for its visual beauty, he also says it "makes more sense as an imaginative book than in the more realistic medium of the movies."

Declaring the film "lost at sea," Nick Schrager of City Pages was far less enthusiastic in his review, saying the film "manages occasional spiritual wonder through its 3-D visuals, but otherwise sinks like a stone."

See the trailer for "Life of Pi" below.

"Anna Karenina" is a bold, new interpretation of the classic Leo Tolstoy novel about Anna (Keira Knightley), an enchanting aristocrat married to an imperial minister (Jude Law) in late 19th century Russia, who begins a life-altering affair with an affluent count (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

Covert in the Star Tribune says director Joe Wright -- who frames the within the guise of a stage play -- calls the film "an eye-popping marriage of artifice and heart," and says Knightley "suffers radiantly as the doomed, adulterous Russian aristocrat."

Nick Pinkerton of City Pages also heaps praise upon the film, its vision and Knightley, saying her "emotions come through with a gasping immediacy."

Like Covert and Pinkerton, Hewitt in the Pioneer Press celebrates the theatricality of the piece -- noting it's an effective metaphor for the role-playing of pre-revolutionary Russia, where "all the world" was a stage.

Hewitt finds fault, though, in the presentation of Anna, saying "Wright doesn't finesse" the film's "tricky heroine" and feels that her character isn't fully defined.

Here's my interview with Knightley for the film.

See the trailer for "Anna Karenina" below.

Both Hewitt and Covert gave positive reviews of "Silver Linings Playbook," a romantic comedy starring Bradley Cooper as a Philadelphia high school teacher who moves back home with his parents after an eight-month stint in a psychiatric hospital.

Covert in the Star Tribune calls Cooper's performance "inspired," saying it's "leagues beyond the labored comic shtick of the 'Hangover' movies"; while Hewitt in the Pioneer Press says the characters in the film (which also stars Robert De Niro and Jennifer Lawrence) are "so vivid that many could have their own movie."

See the trailer for "Silver Linings Playbook" below.

Bring Me The News news curator Tim Lammers is also a nationally-syndicated movie journalist whose work appears on more than 50 TV affiliate web sites in the U.S. Tim has interviewed more than 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career, and locally, he reviews films on "KARE 11 Today" and WCCO Radio. Tim's work is also featured on his website, StrictlyCinema.com.

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