Welcome to Annotate This, where we gather reviews, trailers, and annotate the posters for movies coming out this week. It will help you decide what to avoid, what to see, and what to pretend to see. Click on the image above to add your comments to the mix.

The Butler

This multi-decade historical drama stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, a White House butler from 1952 to 1986. Lee Daniels (Precious) directs the script by Danny Strong (Game Change), and Oprah stars as Gaines' wife. Here are all the people who play presidents and first ladies and you can figure out who is who: Robin Williams, Melissa Leo, James Marsden, Minka Kelly, Liev Schreiber, John Cusack, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda. Critics say, it's "crudely powerful" and "avant-garde" in its straightforwardness (?). Rich Juzwiak's review is here.


A Steve Jobs biopic with an "awe-struck attitude" and Ashton Kutcher.

Kick-Ass 2

Three actors with three names (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse) play the teenage-ish super heroes in homemade outfits in this wobbly, "uncertain jumble," cynical commentary on do-goodery.

Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Directed by David Lowery, starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara as a reunited couple and Ben Foster as a local sheriff, this film takes place in the 1970s Texas Hill Country with a "Depression-era sensibility." It's "wholly engrossing" while it's "slow as molasses." Terrence Malick influences were mentioned in almost every review, so if that's not your thing, be warned.


Keri Russell plays a lit geek girl, who gives up her life savings to spend a week in an Austen fantasyland, complete with charming cads and charming jerks. Jane Seymour, James Callis, and Jennifer Coolidge co-star. It's not highbrow satire, so much as it is an excuse to "exploit the Mr. Darcy archetype."


Liam Hemsworth is a regular, noble dude who likes cheese fries and wants to get ahead at the dubious Wyatt Corporation. For drama's sake, the ruthless CEO Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) makes him spy on Harrison Ford, who is a corporate rival. It's as mediocre and rehashed as you think it's gonna be, but also Gary Oldman!

Cutie and the Boxer

Zachary Heinzerling's documentary about the forty-year relationship between artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, is about love and art and sacrifice. It's unsentimental, compact and graceful, clear-eyed and touching. My review is here.

Patience Stone

Author Atiq Rahimi's adapted his own bestselling novel about a Muslim woman whose paralyzed husband unconsciously overpowers her life. It's "sensual and horrifying," with an incredible performance from Iranian actor Golshifteh Farahani. One critic writes, "Islamic feminism deserves better than this."

Spark: A Burning Man Story

From producer-directors Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter, Spark traces the 27-year history of chaos festival Burning Man. They use lots of "utopian shots of blissful burners and happy children," seeming to gloss over the shadowy drug/sex part of this annual gathering of 60,000 in the desert.

Drew: the Man Behind the Posters

This documentary examines the artistic process of poster artist Drew Struzan, who was behind the art of movies like Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. Director Erik Sharkey interviews George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Michael J. Fox, Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro, Steven Spielberg, and others about the very modest Struzan, who explained away his artistry by saying of Harrison Ford, "I just painted him the way he looks. He looks OK. He looks more than OK! Better than I'll ever look."

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