By Ryan Michael Painter
(KUTV) Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week of March 22 – 28, 2013
1. Silver Linings Playbook (R)
2. Lincoln (PG-13)
3. Warm Bodies (PG-13)
4. Admission (PG-13)
5. Oz the Great and Powerful (PG)
1. The Croods (PG)
2. Oz the Great and Powerful (PG)
3. Life of Pi (PG)
4. Beautiful Creatures (PG-13)
5. Wreck-It Ralph (PG)
1. Stoker (R)
2. Lore (NR)
3. Amour (PG-13)
4. 56 Up (NR)
5. Quartet (PG-13)
3 out of 5 Stars
Directors • Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Starring • Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone
Rated • PG
Recommended to • Those looking for a solid family-friendly animated film.
A prehistoric family is forced from the comfort of their cave when the continents begin to separate.
“The Croods” isn’t a sophisticated film. It uses the age-old plot device of a father not being able to relate to his teenage daughter and throws in the continental drift as a way to force Grug (Nicolas Cage), the father, out of his comfort zone so that he can better understand Eep (Emma Stone), his progressive daughter (which was essentially one of the subplots of “Ice Age: Continental Drift”). Fortunately the animation is dazzling and the script is just smart enough to keep adults engaged while kids go crazy over the sight gags and goofy situations the family is put in as they travel through an exotic land in search of somewhere safe. “The Croods” isn’t an instant classic, but it makes for a nice way to spend an evening with the family.
3 out of 5 Stars
Director • Paul Weitz
Starring • Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff
Rated • PG-13
Recommended to • Tina Fey and Paul Rudd fans that don’t mind watching talented actors underachieve in a mediocre romantic drama.
Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) is a Princeton University admissions officer who during her annual tour of various high school campuses visits the alternative high school run by John Pressman (Paul Rudd). While there she meets Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), a brilliant but troubled student that Pressman believes is her son.
The combination of Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, two of Hollywood’s most likeable actors, seems like a surefire way to make a movie. Unfortunately “Admission” is an underachiever that proves that without a solid script to back it up charm will only get you so far. It feels overly superficial and contrived rather than heartfelt and honest. I haven’t read Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel so I don’t know if something was lost in Karen Croner’s adaptation or if the flaws are inherent in the original text. I do know that with the talent involved “Admission” should have been better than it is.
Olympus Has Fallen
2 out of 5 Stars
Director • Antoine Fuqua
Starring • Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman
Rated • R
Recommended to • Those that like their actions films to be big, dumb and chest pounding patriotic.
When a terrorist attack on the White House put the lives of the President (Aaron Eckhart) and his son in danger former Presidential guard Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) infiltrates the building in hope of getting them both out alive.
“Olympus Has Fallen” is about as big, dumb and violent as any film I’ve ever watched. The dialogue is quotably campy in the most terrible of ways, the special effects are unconvincing and the performances are equally underwhelming. They do blow a lot of stuff up, trash the White House and pile up a massive amount of casualties in the process. If you’re looking for something smart or groundbreaking you’ve come to the wrong place. If you’re just looking for an extremely violent tour of the White House you’re in luck. “Olympus Has Fallen” isn’t a good film, but it might be so bad that it ends up being entertaining.
4 out of 5 Stars
Director • Chan-wook Park
Starring • Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
Rated • R
Recommended to • Chan-wook Park fans, those who love slow burning thrillers and anyone looking for a stark and haunting take on Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt.”
After India’s (Mia Wasikowska) father is killed in an automobile accident her mysterious Uncle Charlie comes (Matthew Goode) to stay with her and her grieving mother (Nicole Kidman). India is drawn to him and the dangerous secrets she suspects exist beneath his warm exterior.
If you’ve seen any of Chan-woo Park’s films (“Thirst,” “Old Boy,” “Lady Vengeance”) you know you’re in for a strange and beautiful journey through something dark and a bit psychologically twisted. Like many rising South Korean directors he also has an insatiable taste for violence and while many feared that Chan-wook Park’s English-language debut might be watered down it’s quite clear that Fox Searchlight Pictures didn’t try and limit his artistic vision.
Some have complained that “Stoker” is a beautiful film where nothing happens. I don’t share in this opinion in the least. For me it was quite clear that Chan-wook Park was simply winding the audience up, offering flashes of darkness and teasing his way to the film’s climax when everything comes undone in a barrage of mayhem. The final revelation isn’t necessarily a shocking twist, but the way it unfolds is shockingly unexpected.
4 out of 5 Stars
Director • Cate Shortland
Starring • Saskia Rosendahl, Kai-Peter Malina, Nele Trebs, Ursina Lardi
Rated • Not Rated
Recommended to • WWII history buffs and those looking for a powerful and original coming-of-age narrative.
With Allied forces taking control of Germany and her parents arrested and placed in detainment camps Lore, a teenage German, must lead her brothers and sister through the war torn countryside to find a safe place to live with her relatives.
“Lore” is a German film with many layers. It is a brilliantly crafted coming-of-age story about a young woman forced to grow up and confront the brutality of being mislead by her parent’s propaganda and rhetoric while trying to protect her siblings from the danger her parent’s actions created. Through Lore we are shown what it is to be German at the close of World War II. Humiliated, shocked and defeated the country was forced to accept not only the loss of the war, but also the weight of an unattained vision of greatness. As their eyes were opened to the depravity that they allowed they still struggled to cling to the ideology that promised them victory and left them and their country ravished and controlled by a trio of angry enemy governments.
“Lore” is filled with a stunning amount of self-analysis and insight to who the Germans were and the course they were forced to take to become the country they are today.
3 out of 5 Stars
Director • Harmony Korine
Starring • Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, James Franco
Rated • R
Recommended to • Fans of Harmony Korine’s disdain and obsession with teenagers and young adults throwing caution to the wind for one glorious weekend.
Candy, (Vanessa Hudgens) Brit (Ashely Benson), Cotty (Rachel Korine) and the virginal Faith (Selena Gomez) rob a local restaurant to pay for their spring break vacation in Florida where they become acquainted with Alien (James Franco), a local drug-dealing rapper.
“Spring Breakers” isn’t the film that most people expect it to be. It isn’t a celebration of teenage stupidity (a la “Project X”) and it isn’t a tale about the loss of innocence (very few of the characters have innocence left to lose). It’s hard to know exactly how serious director/writer Harmony Korine (“Trash Humpers,” “Gummo”) intends audiences to take “Spring Breakers,” but based on his previous films it seems to me that he is ripping apart the whole “live for the moment” aspect of spring break, but, because he loves the uninhibited recklessness nearly as much as he despises it, he can’t help but glorify the hedonistic behavior as well. His disdain echoes Gaspar Noé’s “Enter the Void,” but where Noé’s brutalizes the audience Korine is inclined to titillate them. It’s a strange mix and given time I suspect I’ll either come to respect the film more that I currently do, or dismiss it as a trashy celebration of all that is wrong with American culture.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)