Film Shorts

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Posted May 29, 2013 by KRISTIAN LIN in Film
Now You See Me opens Friday.Now You See Me opens Friday.

OPENING:

Now You See Me (PG-13) Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Woody Harrelson star in this caper flick as a team of stage magicians who execute high-end robberies of capitalist robber barons. Also with Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Mélanie Laurent, and Michael Caine. (Opens Friday)

After Earth (PG-13) Will Smith and Jaden Smith star in M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film as two astronauts who must fight for their lives after crash-landing on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Also with Sophie Okonedo, Glenn Morshower, and Zoë Kravitz. (Opens Friday)

Pietà (NR) The latest film by Kim Ki-duk (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring) stars Lee Jeong-jin as a violent Korean loan shark who is visited by a woman claiming to be his long-lost mother (Jo Min-soo). Also with Woo Ki-hong, Kang Eun-jin, and Cho Jae-ryong. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Stories We Tell (PG-13) Sarah Polley’s documentary about her family and the conflicting stories her mother told her about her parentage. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (R) The latest documentary by Alex Gibney (Inside Job, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) tells the story of Julian Assange and his website. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

 

NOW PLAYING:

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.

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.

Epic (PG) This animated movie’s renderings of forest greenery are simply glorious. Too bad it trips over pesky minor elements like story and character. Adapted from William Joyce’s The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, this movie is about a teenage girl (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) who’s magically shrunken down to a couple of inches tall and introduced to a world of tiny people and talking animals protecting the forest. The movie is overloaded with expositional dialogue and characters who are poorly introduced. You can’t even figure out why the bad guys are trying to reduce the forest to rot. A witless script wastes an enviable voice cast, and any sense of wonder here is broken every time somebody starts to speak. Additional voices by Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd, Jason Sudeikis, Pitbull, Steven Tyler, and Beyoncé Knowles.

Fast & Furious 6 (PG-13) The latest and most enjoyable in the series has Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, and the rest of the gang convening in London to stop a British baddie (Luke Evans) who has the resurrected-from-the-dead Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) in his clutches and working for him. Director Justin Lin gives up the pretense that any of this is to be taken seriously and orchestrates two impressive large-scale action sequences: the climax on a military airbase and a knock-down, drag-out brawl between Rodriguez and Gina Carano that’s intercut with a slapstickier fight between Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, and Joe Taslim. The comedy is still cringe-inducing and the dialogue is still bad enough to kill plants and small animals, yet there’s still some gas left in the tank. Also with Jordana Brewster, Gal Gadot, Elsa Pataky, Clara Paget, Kim Kold, and Ludacris.

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.

The Great Gatsby (PG-13) Ridiculous. And also pretty cool. Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) adapts F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel into a piece of spectacle that overloads your senses. Leonardo DiCaprio (looser and more romantic than he’s been since Titanic) portrays Gatsby, while Carey Mulligan pulls off the near-miraculous feat of making Daisy interesting. Their performances help make this version of Gatsby feel more alive than more realistic versions, as does Luhrmann’s gleefully anachronistic soundtrack and his scrupulously composed, frenetically edited scenes of revelry. The movie flattens out the novel’s themes and waters down its critique of capitalism, but Luhrmann manages to make this classic into very much his own opulent, tragic creation. Also with Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Debicki, Jason Clarke, Callan McAuliffe, and Amitabh Bachchan.

The Iceman (R) Michael Shannon’s smoldering-volcano intensity is pretty much the only reason to watch this bleak, monotonous mob drama. He portrays Richard Kuklinski, a real-life contract killer for the New Jersey mafia who murdered more than 100 people over more than 20 years. First-time feature director Ariel Vromen films this like high tragedy, with little flair or imagination and zero humor. He needs to learn that grim does not equal profound. There’s an eye-opening turn by Chris Evans as a scuzzy fellow killer, but it’s a coiled, strained Shannon who commands your attention, slightly darkening his expression to indicate that he’s just decided to kill the person he’s talking to. Also with Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, John Ventimiglia, Danny A. Abeckaser, Robert Davi, Stephen Dorff, and James Franco.

Iron Man 3 (PG-13) An excellent finish to the series. Suffering crippling anxiety attacks, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) must deal with a terrorist bomber (Ben Kingsley) who leaves him without power for his suit. New director/co-writer Shane Black likes staging low-fi action sequences that force Tony to rely on his unaided wits and limbs. The banter between Tony and Rhodey (Don Cheadle) may be a bit worn, but robbing Tony of his armor re-establishes the character’s humanity in his love for his girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his best friend (Jon Favreau). We wouldn’t mind seeing this Tony every couple of summers. Also with Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Ty Simpkins, and an uncredited Mark Ruffalo. — Steve Steward

Mud (R) Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) juxtaposes childhood against cold, hard reality in his second film. Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland play 14-year-old boys who discover a mysterious drifter (Matthew McConaughey) living on an island in the Mississippi River. Nichols evokes a world filled with stunted men who refuse to adapt to change, couching this story as a drama whose slow pace suggests the river’s quiet, inexorable movement. The movie shines brightest when the characters finally come to grips with the hidden truths about themselves coming to light. Also with Reese Witherspoon, Michael Shannon, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Joe Don Baker, and Sam Shepard. — Steve Steward


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