Film Shorts

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Posted May 8, 2013 by KRISTIAN LIN in Film
The Great Gatsby opens Friday.The Great Gatsby opens Friday.

OPENING:

The Great Gatsby (PG-13) Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) adapts F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel about a 1920s writer (Tobey Maguire) who witnesses the tragically doomed romance between his cousin (Carey Mulligan) and a wealthy playboy (Leonardo DiCaprio). Also with Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Debicki, Jason Clarke, Barry Otto, Vince Colosimo, and Amitabh Bachchan. (Opens Friday)

Aftershock (R) Eli Roth stars in this horror film by Nicolás López as one of a group of tourists trapped underground by a massive earthquake in Chile. Also with Andrea Osvárt, Ariel Levy, Nicolás Martínez, Lorena Izzo, Natasha Yarovenko, and Selena Gomez. (Opens Friday at Cinemark North Richland Hills)

Aquí y Allá (NR) The winner of the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Lone Star International Film Festival, this sparse, lo-fi drama set in Mexico is just a tad too sparse and lo-fi for its own good. Pedro de los Santos (who gives a terrific, weary performance) stars as a day laborer and talented musician who returns from America to his wife and daughters in Guerrero, Mexico, only to find that poverty may force him back. Writer-director Antonio Méndez Esparza distinguishes his movie from other immigrant dramas by focusing on the effect that the father’s absence and return has on his family. Major story developments are skipped over lightly in an attempt to be economical, but the scenes come out so haphazardly that we have trouble following the rise and fall of his fortunes. Well-intentioned and even unique, this movie still could have amounted to more. Also with Teresa Ramírez Aguirre, Lorena Guadalupe Pantaleón Vázquez, Heidi Laura Solano Espinoza, Néstor Tepetate Medina, Carolina Prado Ángel, Noel Payno Vendíz, and Nicolás Parra Quiroz. (Opens Friday at Cinema Latino de Fort Worth)

At Any Price (R) The latest film by Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo) stars Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron as a battling father and son who are forced to deal with a crisis at their expanding family farming business. Also with Kim Dickens, Clancy Brown, Chelcie Ross, Red West, and Heather Graham. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Midnight’s Children (NR) Deepa Mehta adapts Salman Rushdie’s novel about two children (Satya Bhabha and Shahana Goswami) born in 1948 who grow up in a newly independent India. Also with Rajat Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Ronit Roy, Siddharth, Seema Biswas, Shriya Saran, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, and Charles Dance. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

No Place on Earth (PG-13) Janet Tobias’ documentary about spelunker Chris Nicola and his discovery of a cave in the Ukraine where five Jewish families hid out for 18 months during the Holocaust. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Peeples (PG-13) Screenwriter Tina Gordon Chism (Drumline, ATL) makes her directing debut with this comedy starring Craig Robinson as a man who surprises his girlfriend (Kerry Washington) by showing up at her family reunion to propose to her. Also with David Alan Grier, S. Epatha Merkerson, Tyler James Williams, Kali Hawk, Kimrie Lewis-Davis, Ana Gasteyer, Melvin Van Peebles, and Diahann Carroll. (Opens Friday)

The Source Family (NR) Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille’s documentary chronicles the rise and fall of the 1970s L.A.-based religious cult led by Jim Baker, a.k.a. Father Yod. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

 

NOW PLAYING:

The Big Wedding (R) Bizarre, and not in a good way. Screenwriter Justin Zackham (The Bucket List) makes his directing debut with this remake of a French farce called Mon frère se marie, and while the situations here may have made sense in France, they don’t translate to an American setting. Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton play a divorced couple who must pretend they are still married when their adopted son (Ben Barnes) gets married and receives a visit from his Colombian biological mother (Patricia Rae). The movie tries to be an airy comedy, but it’s quite dull. The waste of talent is criminal; Keaton’s encounters with Susan Sarandon as her ex’s new girlfriend should be pyrotechnic occasions. Instead they produce nothing, like the rest of this movie. And if you’re going to call your movie The Big Wedding, shouldn’t the nuptials be really big? Also with Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, David Rasche, Christine Ebersole, Ana Ayora, and Robin Williams.

The Call (R) Halle Berry stars in this thoroughly sadistic little thriller as a traumatized 911 operator who involves herself with the case of a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) who is abducted by a serial killer and places a call from the trunk of his car. We learn much about how 911 operators do their jobs and how they might respond in a situation such as this. Yet the heroine’s actions make absolutely no sense in the last 15 minutes of this thing, and the movie overall is histrionic and tawdry. Director Brad Anderson used to make such great romantic comedies; What’s he doing wasting his time on something like this? Also with Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, David Otunga, José Zúñiga, Justina Machado, Roma Maffia, and Michael Imperioli.

Cinco de Mayo, La Batalla (R) Produced for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, Rafa Lara’s epic re-creates that battle for Mexican independence from the French, starring Kuno Becker, Christian Vasquez, Liz Gallardo, William Miller, Noé Hernández, and Angélica Aragón.

The Croods (PG) This fitfully inspired animated comedy is about a family of prehistoric cavepeople headed by an overprotective, risk-averse dad (voiced by Nicolas Cage) until their home is destroyed and they’re forced to journey many miles to find a new place. The movie’s fanciful prehistoric landscape is nice to see, and terrific voice work from both Cage and Emma Stone as his adventurous daughter gives the movie some personality. However, the movie never really hits any memorable highs or sustains any sort of momentum and is populated by bizarre creatures. Check out the graceful flock of cute, murderous little red birds. Additional voices by Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Chris Sanders, and Cloris Leachman.

Disconnect (R) Apparently, the technology that’s supposed to connect us is making us lonelier and more isolated than ever. Oh, spare me, seriously. This hysterically overwrought drama tells the interlocking stories of a TV reporter (Andrea Riseborough) who exploits a webcam prostitute (Max Thieriot) for a story, a bereaved couple (Alexander Skarsgård and Paula Patton) who fall victim to identity theft, and a lonely teenager (Jonah Bobo) who gets Catfished by a couple of sadistic classmates (Colin Ford and Aviad Bernstein). Director Henry Alex Rubin (Murderball) does his best to bring the temperature down, but neither he nor this talented cast can do anything about the relentless line of Luddite crap that this movie pushes. Also with Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Michael Nyqvist, and Norbert Leo Butz.

Evil Dead (R) Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez cleverly reframes Sam Raimi’s 1981 camp horror classic as the story of a junkie trying to get clean. Jane Levy (from TV’s Suburgatory) stars as a recovering heroin addict who becomes possessed by a demon while trying to quit cold turkey at a cabin in the woods with her friends. Alvarez does a fair job of replicating Raimi’s over-the-top gross-out humor, and Levy excels as both the troubled druggie and as the murderous hellbeast, thanks to a rewarding script co-written by Juno’s Diablo Cody. As the heroine has to slay the demon version of herself, the movie plays like the fever dream of an addict going through the worst withdrawal ever. That’s a good thing. Also with Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore, Jessica Lucas, and Jim McLarty.

Filly Brown (R) Gina Rodriguez is such a dynamic presence in the title role that you almost forget how wearisomely predictable all the story beats are in this music drama. She plays an aspiring rapper from L.A.’s barrio with a heroin-addicted mom in prison (played by the late Jenni Rivera) who must decide whether to compromise or stay true to her artistic integrity. The movie gets especially sticky when it delves into gangland drama, but the tiny Rodriguez raps credibly and locates her character’s resolve in a way that transcends the setup. There’s an amusing performance by Ramon Herrera, a.k.a. Chingo Bling, as a shady small-time promoter. Also with Lou Diamond Phillips, Braxton Millz, Emilio Rivera, Noel Guglielmi, Chrissie Fit, Joseph Julian Soria, Kerry Norton, and Edward James Olmos.

42 (PG-13) A museum piece, not a movie. This biography of Jackie Robinson focuses on the three years leading up to the baseball star’s tumultuous 1947 season, when he integrated his sport as a player for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Writer-director Brian Helgeland tries to create scope by taking us through dead-end subplots with poorly characterized supporting roles. This is forgivable; less so is Helgeland’s failure to give us a sense of how widespread racism was among fans, the press, and executives. The racial slurs that Robinson (Chadwick Boseman, doing what he can with a plaster saint of a role) encounters seem to come mostly from a few troublemakers. Had Helgeland been more willing to court controversy, this might have been the great American story that it promised to be. Also with Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Ryan Merriman, Lucas Black, Andre Holland, Alan Tudyk, Hamish Linklater, T.R. Knight, and John C. McGinley.


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