Thursday, November 28 2013, 01:47 PM MST
Box Office: Recommended Films for the Week of November 27-December 6, 2013
(KUTV) Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week of November 27 December 6, 2013
1. Frozen (PG)
2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (PG-13)
3. The Book Thief (PG-13)
4. Gravity (PG-13)
5. About Time (R)
1. Frozen (PG)
2. The Book Thief (PG-13)
3. Monsters University (G)
4. Enders Game (PG-13)
5. Despicable Me 2 (PG)
1. 12 Years a Slave (R)
2. Dallas Buyers Club (R)
3. Kill Your Darlings (R)
4. All Is Lost (PG-13)
5. Blue is the Warmest Color (NC-17)
4 out of 5 Stars
Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel
Genre: Animated, Adventure, Comedy
Recommended To: Anyone who has any love in their heart for great animated films.
Synopsis: As a young child Princess Elsa displayed magic abilities that her parents believed might make her an outcast. For years she kept her powers a secret, but at her coronation things go terribly wrong forcing Elsa to escape to the mountains leaving her kingdom under a sheet of ice. Anna, Elsas younger sister, sets out on a journey to try and find Elsa and melt her frozen heart.
Review: For years Disney has relied upon a formula based upon dead parents, princesses and deliciously wicked antagonists. Frozen features deceased parents and a princess, but when it comes to the villain it chances up the formula with wonderful results. Frozen is more about public and self-perception than it is about its less savory characters (the film does have a pair of notable discontents, but neither give Maleficent a run for her money). The songs are good, the comedy works and the animation is breathtaking making Frozen a wonderful film that sits nicely amongst Disney's stronger output since 2010's Tangled. It will appease the rabid fan base while also warming the hearts of those who have become tired of the constant barrage of middling children's films that have become the norm.
The Book Thief
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Brian Percival
Starring: Sophie Nlisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson
Genre: Drama, War
Recommended To: Those willing to accept a flawed adaptation that captures the themes but not the magic of Markus Zusaks novel.
Synopsis: Set against the horrors of World War II Germany, Liesel, a young girl, finds relief in stolen novels and the company of the Jewish refugee hidden in the basement of her adoptive parents home.
Review: Markus Zusaks novel is one of my favorite books. Sadly its imaginative approach, which casts Death as the books narrator, goes mostly unutilized as director Brian Percivals film opts for a more straightforward narrative with only the occasional intrusion by Death. I dont know if this decision was made by screenwriter Michael Petroni or Percival, but either way the choice robs the film of much of the books atmosphere. Still, The Book Thief is a decent film as it makes some of the horrors of World War II Germany accessible to a wider audience. It might fall short of being a great film, but it at least remains a conversation starter. It also celebrates the therapeutic power of reading, even in the face of the incredible brutality of war. The cast, which features Geoffrey Rush and Emil Watson, is quite good and the general effects, art direction and cinematography are quite striking. Now if they could have only captured the unique qualities of the book I would have been more pleased with the experience.
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb
Genre: Drama, Adventure
Recommended To: Those looking for a slow burning character drama.
Synopsis: Believing that he has won a million dollars Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) repeatedly sets out to walk from Montana to Nebraska to claim his prize. After numerous foiled attempts Woody’s son David (Will Forte) reluctantly agrees to drive him.
Review: Director Alexander Payne strode into the spotlight with his indie hit Sideways (the excellent Election was largely ignored). Seven or so years later he returned with the acclaimed drama The Descendants. Typically Payne is responsible for his own scripts. For Nebraska he works from an original script by the relatively unknown Bob Nelson. And it shows. For the first twenty or so minutes Nebraska is a tough nut to crack. It moves in circles as it delivers its exposition. Woody is a gruff, stubborn old fool without purpose toiling away in retirement. His wife is disinterested and bewildered and his sons are detached and annoyed. None of them are particularly happy or successful. A million dollar award would give Woody a sense of accomplishment, which ultimately is more important than the money itself. The story picks up when Woody and David hit the road. The bulk of the narrative takes place in Woody’s childhood town where Woody’s past relationships and all the old stories David has heard growing up start to take shape. It is here where we can understand Woody’s irrational hope and his need for the impossible to be true. Bruce Dern offers a fine disheveled performance (some are calling for an Oscar nomination) and Will Forte is surprisingly good (perhaps because he isn’t pushing for laughs).
Nebraska is a very good film and while it didn’t quite live up to the hype surrounding it I still recommend it to anyone looking for a solid character drama.
By: Ryan M. Painter
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)