Box Office: Recommended Films For The Week Of January 10 - 16, 2014
(KUTV) Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week January 11 16, 2014
1. Her (R)
2. The Wolf of Wall Street (R)
3. American Hustle (R)
4. Frozen (PG)
5. Lone Survivor (R)
1. Frozen (PG)
2. The Book Thief (PG-13)
3. Saving Mr. Banks (PG-13)
4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (PG)
5. Enders Game (PG-13)
1. Her (R)
2. Inside Llewyn Davis (R)
3. 12 Years a Slave (R)
4. The Great Beauty (NR)
5. Nebraska (R)
August: Osage County
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: John Wells
Starring: Meryl Streep, Dermot Mulroney, Julia Roberts
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Recommended To: Those looking for a misguided film where hysteria runs rampant as actresses go unrestrained.
Synopsis: The argumentative Weston family returns home to rally around their prescription-drug-abusing mother (Meryl Streep) when their father disappears.
Review: Adapted by Tracy Letts from her Pulitzer Prize winning play August: Osage County is packed with amazing talent. The cast, which includes Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin and Juliette Lewis, reads like an awards banquets guest list, but under the direction of John Wells (The Company Men) the talent goes unchecked and instead of getting the finely nuanced performances you'd expect the film often disintegrates into a contest to see who can shout the loudest. Its high drama, but not high art. Its good, but it isn't as good as it should be. The best performance in the film comes from the lesser known Julianne Nicholson. Granted her character, Ivy, is more sympathetic by design, but without her the story might not be worth navigating.
The Great Beauty
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Starring: Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Recommended To: Those looking for an exotic film filled with lavish parties, a bit of debauchery and a whole lot of soul searching.
Synopsis: Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) is a famous journalist who has been the king of Romes nightlife for decades. On his sixty-fifth birthday he finds himself reflecting upon his life and the love that could have been.
Review: Jep Gambardella is Jay Gatsby resurrected as an Italian journalist. He's the reason the party exists, but hes rarely the center of attention. He can steal the spotlight if needed, a trait Gatsby never really mastered, but he also knows when to slip out of view. Hes calculated and beautifully portrayed by Toni Servillo. At its core director/writer Paolo Sorrentio's film seems to be about the seduction of emptiness. The glamour and fame of simply being (and not actually doing) meaning little when there is no substance to it. That doesn't take away from its glossy appeal (and Sorrentio captures the chaos brilliantly); it just reveals that behind the curtain nothing is really as it seems. So Jep must face the truth about his life and either embrace it for what it is or live with the regret of what could have been. Or perhaps combine the two.
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Spike Jonez
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Recommended To: Those looking for an intelligent musing on the purpose of love and the future of romance.
Synopsis: Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is haunted by the failure of his first marriage. Retreating to the solace of being alone he begins a relationship with Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), his newly acquired operating system.
Review: Spike Jonez has always been an inventive director. With films like Adaptation, Being John Malkovich and his adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are he has constantly taken audiences into his rampant imagination. Her is his most realistic and seemingly intimate film, which considering the premise might feel like a stretch; its not. Jonez's film explores how our relationship with technology evolves with every leap forward. The jump from Siri to Samantha, the name chosen by Theodore's personalized operating system, isn't inconceivable. In many ways it feels probable. But Jonez isn't content to simply explore the possibility of falling in love with a computer and delves into the purpose of relationships and the need to be understood and connected with. None of this works without the tremendous performance from Joaquin Phoenix or Scarlett Johansson, who never appears but is always present. Phoenix is a wonderful everyman, a good, but lonely and flawed soul in search of himself. Without him the film could spiral into intellectual mumblings. Through him its thought provoking and breathtakingly beautiful.
The Legend of Hercules
1.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Renny Harlin
Starring: Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins
Genre: Action, Adventure
Recommended To: Kellan Lutz fans and those looking for a good laugh (even when you arent supposed to be laughing).
Synopsis: Hercules (Kellan Lutz) is sent to Egypt to die because of his love for Hebe (Gaia Weiss), the princess sworn to wed his older brother.
Review: Once upon a time Renny Harlin directed Die Hard 2 and in the twenty years since hes done very little more than churn out bombs and glorified B-movies. The Legend of Hercules might have the dubious distinction of being both. The film is a mix of miscasting, bad acting, unconvincing CGI and a whole lot of slow motion. There are fight scenes, love scenes and a lot of chest pounding and none of it amounts to much more than a goofy adventure that was intended to be taken far more seriously. It's The Blue Lagoon meets Gladiator by way of 300 with a little of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome thrown in for campy effect. You might enjoy it, but probably not in the way it was intended to be enjoyed.
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch
Genre: Action, Biography, Drama
Recommended To: Fans of war films heavy on action in a claustrophobic space.
Synopsis: On June 28, 2005 a SEAL team were sent into capture of kill Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd. Only one made it back alive.
Review: The mystery of Lone Survivor is not how the film ends, the title gives that away, but how the characters navigate the narrative. To that end director/screenwriter Peter Berg has succeeded in making a very engaging film that kept my attention from its opening scenes of men training to be SEALs until the credits started to roll. I would have liked some further character development of the secondary characters, but considering time restraints and the dead being unable to contribute to the telling of the tale the film works about as well as could be expected. The cast is quite good, although at times, because of the writing, their characters do feel a bit generic and interchangeable. Its certainly far better than I would have expected considering Berg's track record (Battleship, Hancock). Clearly his love for the story was able to help elevate Berg's filmmaking.
-Ryan Michael Painter
(2013 Copyright Sinclair Broadcast Group)