Glenn Close gives a bold and convincing performance in the title role of this otherwise stodgy period drama, playing a woman who must pass as a man in order to keep a job as a servant at a 19th century Dublin hotel. His life of quiet isolation is threatened by the arrival of an artist (Janet McTeer) with a secret and Nobbs’ own romantic curiosity toward a maid (Mia Wasikowska). The character is fascinating, even if Nobbs keeps an emotional distance from the audience that prevents his inner struggle from registering more strongly. However, Close and her longtime passion for the project shine through. (Rated R, 113 minutes).
The Theatre Bizarre
As you might expect, there are segments both good and bad in this anthology of six short erotic horror films, loosely connected by sequences involving a young woman watching a twisted puppet show in an abandoned theater. Emotions range from frightening and unsettling to silly and gratuitous, but rarely is it truly either sexy or scary. As the title states, most of them are just bizarre. The structure is hit-and-miss by nature, although there is a compelling variety of styles on display that might be intriguing enough to satisfy genre aficionados. The directors include Richard Stanley, Buddy Giovinazzo, Tom Savini, Douglas Buck, David Gregory and Karim Hussain. (Not rated, 114 minutes).
The Wicker Tree
Almost four decades after the release of his acclaimed low-budget horror film The Wicker Man, 82-year-old director Robin Hardy returns with this lackluster follow-up, which tracks an engaged couple of religious fundamentalists from Texas who travel to Scotland to spread the word, only to find that the small-town locals aren’t as accepting as they initially appear. Hardy takes a familiar broad satirical approach to religious extremism, yet the film isn’t really scary or suspenseful. It’s redeemed somewhat with some decent laughs, only a fraction of which are intentional. Perhaps the film is Hardy’s misguided rebuttal to Neil LaBute’s faulty 2006 Wicker Man remake. (Rated R, 96 minutes).