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SO MANY MOVIES, SO LITTLE QUALITY

  

"Austenland's" Jennifer Coolidge and Keri Russell; Lake Bell, "In a World."

For Hicksflicks.com, Sept. 6, 2013

My wife Joyce and I went to a lot of movies over the past six days, more than is usual for a single week (although not nearly as many as we once did, back when I was reviewing full-time and saw between five and 10 every week).

Last Friday we went to "Austenland" (PG-13), the light comedy by local filmmaker Jerusha Hess, followed Saturday by "Jobs" (PG-13), the story of the late Steve Jobs and the rise of Apple, and then on Monday we took in "In a World" (R), the comedy by Lake Bell that focuses on characters in the Hollywood voice-over industry. On Tuesday, my son Danny and I went to Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" (PG-13) and on Wednesday Joyce and I saw "The French Connection" (R), which was showing as part of the Cinemark classics series.

I had hoped to feature one of the first four in the "Movie of the Week" section below — but, sadly, they were all too disappointing to qualify.

The best of the lot were the comedies, "Austenland" and "In a World."

"Austenland" was cute in places but felt disheveled, awkwardly constructed, a romantic comedy that has trouble landing its punchlines and then knowing when to cut them off, and with way too much obvious riffing by the cast (especially Jennifer Coolidge; a little of her goes a long way).

"In a World" is funny and warm, and Lake Bell proves herself as a writer and director, as well as a seasoned actress. But the film is so filled with crass language that it left a bitter aftertaste. It's the kind of movie we mostly enjoy, but then say, "Well we can't recommend that to anyone." Or, "Pretty good but I'll never watch it again."

"Jobs" has a solid central performance by Ashton Kutcher but the film is unfocused and dreary. Not nearly as dreary as "Blue Jasmine," however, which was often downright obnoxious, just like the title character played by Kate Blanchette (whom I usually enjoy). In fact, every character in the film was off-putting, except the cheery sister played by Sally Hawkins and her world-weary ex-husband, played by Andrew Dice Clay. When Clay is one of the most appealing stars, something's not working.

The best film of the week? "The French Connection." Stay home and rent that one.