Film Shorts

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Posted May 15, 2013 by KRISTIAN LIN in Film
Star Trek Into Darkness opens Thursday.Star Trek Into Darkness opens Thursday.

OPENING:

Star Trek Into Darkness (PG-13) Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) leads the crew of the Enterprise on a manhunt for a rogue Federation operative (Benedict Cumberbatch). Also with Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, and Leonard Nimoy. (Opens Thursday)

Black Rock (R) Katie Aselton stars in and directs this horror film as one of three friends who reunite on a remote East Coast island, only to find themselves hunted by three ex-soldiers. Also with Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth, Will Bouvier, Jay Paulson, and Anselm Richardson. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Erased (R) German director Philipp Stölzl (North Face, Young Goethe in Love) makes his English-language debut with this thriller about an ex-CIA agent (Aaron Eckhart) and his daughter (Liana Liberato) who are marked for death by the agency. Also with Olga Kurylenko, Garrick Hagan, Eric Godon, Yassine Fadel, and Alexander Fehling. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s (PG-13) Matthew Miele’s documentary traces the history of the Manhattan department store. Also with Giorgio Armani, Oscar de la Renta, Karl Lagerfeld, Diane von Fürstenburg, Isaac Mizrahi, Vera Wang, Tom Ford, Rachel Zoe, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Jason Wu, Candice Bergen, Joan Rivers, Nicole Richie, Ashley Olsen, and Mary-Kate Olsen. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Sightseers (NR) This black comedy by Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Down Terrace) stars and is written by Steve Oram and Alice Lowe as a young British couple whose road trip takes a murderous turn. Also with Eileen Davies, Seamus O’Neill, Monica Dolan, Jonathan Aris, and Aymen Hamdouchi. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

 

NOW PLAYING:

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.

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.

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.

Home Run (PG-13) This feel-good baseball drama ends up getting lost in left field. Cory (Scott Elrod) is a professional baseball player with a reputation for bad boy behavior on and off the field. His overly sassy agent (Vivica A. Fox) steps in, enrolling him in A.A., and, for good PR, making him the head coach of a Little League team in his home town. Despite a few touching scenes, the film is mostly unintelligible due to so many competing plots. Is this a movie about Cory fighting the abusive ghost of his father; reuniting with his lost son (Charles Wyson); saving his career’ making amends with Emma (Dorian Brown), the estranged mother of his child; or trying to quit drinking? There’s no telling. Also with James Devoti, Nicole Leigh, Drew Waters, Robert Peters, Elvin Rosa, Samantha Isler, and Ty Fanning. — Edward Brown

The Host (PG-13) Spectacularly bad. This thriller is set in an Earth where sparkly, floating alien invaders called “souls” have taken over the bodies of most humans, turning them into peaceful, courteous, loveless automatons with a curious preference for white clothing and silver vehicles. Saoirse Ronan (Hanna) stars a human girl captured at the beginning of the film and implanted with one of the souls, only the implant doesn’t quite take. Her human personality and the soul carry on a running conversation on the voiceover track, and the device is so laughable and hokey that you wonder why no one told writer-director Andrew Niccol that it wasn’t working. This is based on a novel by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer. Somehow, it manages to be worse than any of the Twilight movies. Also with Diane Kruger, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Chandler Canterbury, Boyd Holbrook, Frances Fisher, and William Hurt.


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