Box Office: Recommended Films For The Week Of February 14 – February 20, 2014
(KUTV) Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week February 14 – 20, 2014
1. The Lego Movie (PG)
2. Her (R)
3. American Hustle (R)
4. Frozen (PG)
5. The Monuments Men (PG-13)
1. The Lego Movie (PG)
2. Frozen (PG)
3. The Book Thief (PG-13)
4. Saving Mr. Banks (PG-13)
5. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (PG)
1. Her (R)
2. Inside Llewyn Davis (R)
3. 12 Years a Slave (R)
4. Dallas Buyers Club (R)
5. Nebraska (R)
New In Theaters This Week:
4 out of 5 Stars
Directors: Sebastián Lelio
Starring: Paulina García, Sergio Hernández, Diego Fontecilla
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Recommended To: Those looking for a solid character-driven drama about an older woman trying to inject her life with a splash of romance.
Synopsis: Gloria, an older woman, spends her nights in clubs drinking, dancing and looking for someone to occupy the space left by her children and ex-husband. In Rodolfo she thinks she’s found her next great love, but their combined baggage complicates their romance.
Review: Gloria was Chile’s official submission to the Oscars for 2014. It wasn’t selected, but it does feature a noteworthy performance from Paulina García who is able to present Gloria as an incredibly complex woman through her physical performance as she swaggers, cowers, clumsily stumbles, picks herself up and dusts herself off with a certain grace. At its heart Gloria is a lonely film about a woman who is slowly coming to believe that she is obsolete. Sensing this she puts herself out into the world. She’s not fearless, a little liquid courage goes a long way, but she’s willing to take the risks and the bruises that inevitably will appear. It would be extremely heartbreaking if Gloria wasn’t so resilient.
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: José Padilha
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton
Genre: Sc-Fi, Action
Recommended To: Those looking for a RoboCop film that sacrifices a share of its action and bloodshed in favor of sentimentality.
Synopsis: In order to build public support for their all-robotic police force OmniCorp turns injured cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) into a half-man, half-robot police officer.
Review: In 1987 Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Basic Instinct) successfully conquered Hollywood with Robocop, a bombastic B-movie extravaganza about a half-man, half-robot police officer filled with political satire and gore galore. It wasn’t high art, but it certainly was a lot of fun (and Verhoeven’s audio commentary on the Criterion Collection DVD is brilliantly entertaining). Two sequels, two television shows, two animated series, comic books, video games and a theme park ride followed; a reboot of the series was inevitable. After years of delays, director changes and who knows how many script revisions the long-expected relaunch arrives courtesy of screenwriter Joshua Zetumer (Quantum of Solace) and director José Padilha (Elite Squad) and the results of their labor is undoubtedly going to divide fans and critics alike.
RoboCop was always a commentary on American culture. In Verhoeven’s film this is most evident in the various advertisements. In Padilha’s version it comes via Samuel L. Jackson’s performance as Pat Novak, a gun-happy news journalist. Whereas viewers could presumably look past the subtext in Verhoeven’s film, Padilha’s approach is more direct and impossible to ignore. However, the upfront politics isn’t the most dramatic change in the film. In Verhoeven’s version Alex Murphy’s family exists in flashbacks. In Padilha’s film Murphy’s wife and son are constantly in the spotlight. This gives the narrative a completely different feel. Lost is the gleeful energy with cartoon violence and in its place is a film striving to be intellectual while still giving the audience the expected action pieces and high body count. This smarter version of RoboCop works to a degree, but like Murphy’s new black armor it just doesn’t feel quite right. It’s not that RoboCop can’t be given a darker and more serious approach. The problem is that Jackson’s segments are pure satire, reflecting the tone of the original film, and the rest is straight-faced drama with a bit of mayhem thrown in. You can have it both ways, but making an action film that is both clever and heartfelt isn’t an easy task and Padilha’s RoboCop can’t quite find the balance.
If you want a retread of Verhoeven’s vision there’s a good chance that you aren’t going to like what Padilha has done with the franchise. If you’re open minded or visiting the RoboCop universe for the first time I suspect that you’ll have a good time. It’s not an instant classic, but it certainly works better than 2012’s Total Recall.
The Past (Le passé)
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Directors: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa
Recommended To: Anyone who loved Farhadi’s brilliant A Separation and fans of intelligent family dramas that avoid soap opera antics.
Synopsis: After spending four years away from his wife and her daughters an Iranian man returns home to France to finalize their divorce. He finds that his wife is now romantically involved with a man whose wife is in a coma.
Review: Despite not being able speak any French Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi has managed to craft a fantastic and complex French drama. Much like Farhadi’s A Separation the focus is on disintegrating relationships and the conflict and struggles that come with it. The cast, which includes The Artist’s Bérénice Bejo as the film’s lead, turn in wonderfully nuanced performances and while the material might sound a little like a soap opera the film never strays into melodrama. It’s simply a wonderful film filled with a few surprises. As Iran’s official selection for the Oscars I’m surprised it didn’t make the final cut. It’s not quite as good as A Separation, but few films are.
2.5 out of 5 Stars
Directors: Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
Recommended To: Those looking for a beautiful mess of a film that feels incomplete and under explained.
Synopsis: While robbing a mansion Peter Lake(Colin Farrell), an orphaned thief, discovers and falls in love with Beverly Penn, a dying heiress. Believing that Peter could keep Beverly from dying Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), a servant of Lucifer, intervenes.
Review: Winter’s Tale is a beautiful looking film with an impressive cast and very little else going for it. It’s hard to know if the blame falls on Akiva Goldsman’s script or his direction (this is his directorial debut), but somewhere between the two whatever coherent meaning might have been in Mark Helprin’s novel is almost completely lost.
What we have is a story that takes place in three time periods (late 1800s, early 1900s and modern day), features angels and demons, something about miracles, a love story, a major red herring, a flying horse and a bunch of things that don’t make much sense. It feels like Goldsman was confined to making a two-hour film when an additional thirty minutes might have help to give the fantasy elements some context. As it stands the darkness vs. light aspect feels under explained, cartoonish and silly (as does Russell Crowe’s performance).
At one point Martin Scorsese was going to make this film, but he backed out and proclaimed the novel “unfilmable.” I don’t know if that is the case, but Goldsman’s film supports Scorsese’s claim.
-Ryan Michael Painter
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)