And in my time of dying ....

Posted: February 14, 2013 at 11:21 a.m.

Well, John McClane is back this week with the latest (and possibly the least) installment in the Die Hard franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard, which is set in Moscow and means to set up Jai Courtney as the successor to Bruce Willis. But our man Piers Marchantobserves, “Alas, Courtney, for all his obvious physical attributes and smoldering green eyes, has little of Willis’ insouciance and mischievousness, a huge part of the previous films’ appeal. The producers might hope they’ve successfully passed the torch, but like a campfire in a downpour, this is a soggy bunch of kindling that won’t light.”

Much better is Austrian auteur Michael Haneke’s devastating Amour, a Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Picture Oscar nominee.

“It should be said at the outset that while ... Amour is a terrific movie,” our critic Philip Martin writes, “It is also a difficult and unsettling experience and one ought not expect to enjoy it in the way that we enjoy a tumult of puppies or the fetching smiles of little children. It is the sort of movie that some people will inevitably describe as boring or tortuous. It is a movie that will make you sad and perhaps depress you. If you mean to use the movies as an escape, as a means of temporary disengagement from the world’s brutality, you might be well advised to miss this one, to go see John McClane cheerfully save the world again. I am only giving you fair warning: Amour is a tough and daunting film.”

Martin also recommends Quartet, rookie director Dustin Hoffman's somewhat softer focused gloss on growing old in love. Or you could go see the latest film derived from the bleeding pen of Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven, though critic Dan Lybarger would counsel against it: “Because Sparks’ tropes have become so familiar, it’s easy to wonder if there is even a novel to form the basis of Safe Haven. Of course there is one, but the final film plays as if it were reworked from his notes or possibly a shopping list. Characters are sketchy and thin, and the storyline trudges along like a sleepy, wounded mule before resolving itself arbitrarily.”

Lybarger feels somewhat better about the supernatural rom com Beautiful Creatures, which he says has “has several advantages over” the Twilight franchise that obviously inspired it. “Writer-director Richard LaGravenese ... has better storytelling instincts and humor and has access to special effects that don’t look like they were left over from The Six Million Dollar Man, ” Lybarger writes. “For the most part, he also has a stronger cast and a female protagonist who isn’t practicing to be a human doormat.”