Sunday, November 10 2013, 12:54 PM MST
Box Office: Recommended Films For The Week Of November 7-13, 2013
Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week of November 7 - 13, 2013
1. Gravity (PG-13)
2. Captain Phillips (PG-13)
3. About Time (R)
4. Thor: The Dark World (PG-13)
5. All Is Lost (PG-13)
1. Monsters University (G)
2. Enders Game (PG-13)
3. Despicable Me 2 (PG)
4. Cloudy with a Change of Meatballs 2 (PG)
5. Planes (PG)
1. 12 Years a Slave (R)
2. All Is Lost (PG-13)
3. Blue is the Warmest Color (NC-17)
4. Enough Said (PG-13)
5. Wadjda (PG)
12 Years a Slave
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams, Michael Fassbender
Genre: Biography, Drama
Recommended To: Those searching for an unflinching look at the inhumanity of slavery.
Synopsis: In 1841 Solomon Northup, a free black man living in New York, is abducted and forced into slavery.
Review: Since seeing director Steve McQueen's debut film Hunger, a movie about Irish republican Bobby Sands hunger strike, in 2008 I knew he was capable of great things. I wasn't a fan of his follow up, the sex-addiction drama Shame, but with 12 Years a Slave McQueen has made the sort of film I knew that he was capable of. Time will tell if it truly is the masterpiece that some have already labeled it, but for now it is impossible for me not to be extremely impressed by every aspect of the film. Chiwetel Ejiofor's performance, John Ridley's screenplay, Patricia Norris' costume design, Sean Bobbitt's cinematography and McQueen's direction will all garner numerous award nominations.
Based on Solomon Northrups 1853 autobiography 12 Years a Slave is an interesting film in that it is able to depict the horrors of slavery and still manages to present a story that is ultimately uplifting. Some will consider the uplifting aspect to be the films Achilles heel because Northrups story is the exception to the norm and does not represent the true inescapable horrors of slavery. While I agree with this criticism I disagree that this somehow makes the film less important or less important. Oskar Schindler wasnt a typical Nazi, he wasn't even Jewish, but through his story and Steven Spielberg's film many were able to begin to understand the suffering of the Jews during World War II. 12 Years a Slave is the continuation of a conversation that was started in cinema long ago. It wont be the final word or document about slavery in America, but it is one of the finest to date and will inevitably help to keep the conversation going.
4 out of 5 Stars
Director: Richard Curtis
Starring: Domhall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi
Recommended To: Those in search of an intelligent mix of science fiction, romantic comedy and character-driven drama.
Synopsis: On his 21st birthday Tim (Domhall Gleeson) is told that all the men in his family have the ability to time travel. Tims attempt to utilize this newfound ability reveals that finding the perfect girl and living the ideal life isnt as simple as it initially seems.
Review: About Time has divided critics. Perhaps this is in part a backlash towards writer/director Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually) or the romantic comedy genre in general. Maybe those expecting a traditional romantic film, as the previews have suggested, were shocked to find that they were actually given a more complex examination of love that extends beyond romance into the love felt between a father and his children. Maybe they were put off by the surprisingly fresh look at time travel and the subtle, or not so subtle, impact of the butterfly effect. I happen to love the film. Its not what I expected and sometimes being surprised is a wonderful thing. Ultimately what makes About Time so endearing is that it isn't about being perfect, its about making the most of a moment. That's exactly what Curtis has done with this film. It has its flaws, but it rises above them as it presents an ambitious drama that doesnt allow itself to be pigeonholed or hand tied by genre limitations.
Blue is the Warmest Color
4 out of 5 Stars
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Starring: La Seydoux, Adle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche
Genre: Drama, Romance
Recommended To: Those looking for a deeply moving character drama about self-realization.
Synopsis: Adeles (Adle Exarchopoulos) life changes when she falls under the spell of Emma (La Seydoux), a rising artist with blue hair.
Review: When it comes to Blue is the Warmest Color all anyone seems to want to talk about it how it is rated NC-17 for explicit lesbian sex scenes and its runtime that clocks in at just less than three hours. The implication often being that the entire film is filled with steamy scenes when in fact very little of the film is spent in the bedroom. What the film is really about is a young and insecure woman exploring her identity while being drawn deep into someone else's life. It isn't always the healthiest of relationships as one half tends to be the dominant force, but that's not so unusual. We see Adele caught in the spotlight as she make mistakes and deal with the consequences. Its a fairly simple story, but it is told extremely well and features two wonderfully nuanced performances from La Seydoux and Adle Exarchopoulos. I wish director/writer Abdellatif Kechiche had toned down the explicit nature of the sex scenes so that more people would be able (or more willing) to see the film, because at its heart it is a wonderful character drama.
Thor: The Dark World
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Recommended To: Fans of the Marvel brand. Even those that have become a bit tired with it.
Synopsis: When an ancient evil awakens an army of dark elves Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is forced to betray his father to avoid a galactic war.
Review: 2011's Thor was a problematic film in that it tried to balance a hefty amount of comedy in with its darker themes in the way that 2008's Iron Man had done (and 2010's Iron Man 2 had failed to do). The comedy felt forced and unnatural and undercut the supernatural sense of wonder that should have been the core of the film. Unfortunately Thor: The Dark World suffers from a similar discord; albeit with better results.
The films narrative is split between events happening on Earth and the conflict that is unfolding in and around Asgard. The action that takes place in space and on foreign planets is spectacular. Nearly everything that happens on Earth is goofy and distracting. Do we really need the running gag of Stellan Skarsgards mad scientist Erik Selvig preferring to not wear pants? Do we need the mindless banter of Kat Dennings clueless Darcy Lewis? You could assert that they bring a sense of levity and balance to the film, but Tom Hiddlestons playful and malicious Loki provides the most laughs and does so without disrupting the films building sense of tension and danger. The time spent with Lewis and Selvig would have been better used to flesh out Christopher Ecclestons villain Malekith. Were we allowed to understand him and his motivation better the films final showdown would have had more meaning. As it stands it feels a little anticlimactic.
Thor: The Dark World is a good film that easily could have been a great film had it been allowed to focus entirely on its most interesting characters rather than being more concerned about being a reunion of the original films cast. At least the franchise seems to be moving in the right direction and somewhere down the line Id most certainly welcome returning to Asgard.
By: Ryan Michael Painter
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