Box Office: Recommended Films For The Week Of April 25 – May 1, 2014
Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week April 25 - May 1, 2014
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (PG-13)
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (R)
3. Noah (PG-13)
4. Muppets Most Wanted (PG)
5. Transcendence (PG-13)
1. Muppets Most Wanted (PG)
2. The Lego Movie (PG)
3. Mr. Peabody & Sherman (PG)
4. Frozen (PG)
5. Rio 2 (G)
1. Jodorowsky's Dune (PG-13)
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (R)
3. Under the Skin (R)
4. Joe (R)
5. The Lunchbox (PG)
New In Theaters This Week:
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Camille Delamarre
Starring: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Recommended To: Paul Walker fans and action who either haven't seen District B13 or don't mind a watered down version of the French original.
Synopsis: Damien (Paul Walker), an undercover cop, infiltrates Brick Mansions, a quarantined district overrun with criminals in dystopian Detroit, to disarm a bomb that could level the entire area.
Review: Brick Mansions is essentially District B13 Americanized and watered down for a PG-13 rating. What that means is that not only has the location been changed from Paris to Detroit, but also that a lot of the manic insanity the fueled the original film has been lost in translation. As a result Brick Mansions feels like it takes its implausible B-movie plot a little too seriously. Fortunately neither editor-turned-director Camille Delamarre or his cast take themselves too seriously and while the results pale in comparison to the dystopian brilliance of The Raid or the utter madness of District B13 it at least proves to be entertaining in a mindless sort of way. Paul Walker, in one of his final roles, is amicable, his performance isn't exactly a work of genius, but it gets the job done. The real action star of the film is parkour stuntman/actor David Belle, who also appeared in both District B13 films. He jumps, contorts and bounces off walls while throwing punches and kicking his way through the throngs of morally questionable individuals. If you're looking for intellectual stimulation Brick Mansions isn't going to satisfy; if you're in search of 90 minutes of silly escapism you're in luck.
4 out of 5 Stars
Director: Frank Pavich
Starring: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H.R. Giger
Recommended To: Fans of Dune, experimental film, movies that never happened and those looking for a compelling study on how hard it is to make a motion picture.
Synopsis: The unsuccessful attempt by surreal filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky's to turn Frank Herbert's Dune into the spiritual sci-fi successor to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Review: The best part of Frank Pavich's fascinating documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky's failed attempt to bring Frank Herbert's Dune to cinemas in the mid-seventies is that as audience members we're given a chance to create our own vision of how the landscape of film could have been influenced if someone, anyone, had given Jodorosky the green light to make his film. Cinema as we know it might have been forever changed. Star Wars might not have been the phenomenon that brought sci-fi into the mainstream and massive box office success. It could have been Dune. Not that Jodorowsky's vision of Dune had the instant commercial appeal of George Lucas' franchise; it was always destined to either match Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey or fail miserably trying, but you never know what audiences were going to connect with. Jodorowsky might have opened the doors to a different kind of mainstream sci-fi experience. Certainly if Dune had been made Alien might not have arrived in 1979. Or, at the very least, it would have looked quite different as some of H.R. Giger's ideas for Ridley Scott's masterpiece would have been used in Jodorowsky's film instead.
Of course had David Lynch's Dune been a critical success, rather than a deeply ambitious and overly flawed epic, Jodorowsky's Dune might not have the same impact. It is our, including Jodorowsky's, disappointment in Lynch's film that makes Jodorowsky's all the more attractive. Had Lynch, a filmmaker that at the time was as bold and important as Jodorowsky has been a decade earlier, made a masterpiece Jodorowsky's efforts would be viewed in a completely different light. We'd probably dismiss Jodorowsky's vision in favor of Lynch's. It is Lynch's failure that makes Jodorowsky's version feel essential; essential and never to be obtained.
Jodorowsky's Dune is a fantastic film about what might have been. It's a love note to a surreal world that could have been had only someone been brave enough to finance it.
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: David Gordon Green
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter
Recommended To: Those looking for a dark Southern drama featuring a great performance from Nicolas Cage.
Synopsis: Gary (Tye Sheridan), the 15-year-old son of an abusive alcoholic, is taken under the wing of Joe (Nicolas Cage), an ex-con with anger issues.
Review: it is unfortunate that Nicolas Cage has developed the reputation of being a terrible actor. He's certainly made some questionable career choices and in recent years many of his roles have been dictated by Cage's financial troubles and as a result many have forgotten his performances in films like Adaptation, Leaving Las Vegas, Raising Arizona and even Kick-Ass. With Joe Cage reminds us that he is capable of greatness if properly cast and motivated. We're also reminded that David Gordon Green, who made somewhat of a comeback with last year's Prince Avalanche, is a far better filmmaker than his mainstream films (Pineapple Express, The Sitter, Your Highness) suggest. The film is reminiscent of Mud, which also starred Tye Sheridan, and the under appreciated Out of the Furnace. All three films have a Southern-sweat-soaked grittiness to them and a sense of Wild West lawlessness that gives the movies a heightened sense of tension. Anything can happen because there is no one strong enough to stop it. Mud is the most hopeful of the trilogy, but Joe, despite its darkness, isn't void of promise and liberation. It's a hard, but rewarding experience that I hope doesn't go unnoticed.
The Other Woman
2 out of 5 Stars
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Recommended To: Those looking for an incredibly painful, unfunny and uneven comedy.
Synopsis: Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz) is a successful lawyer with an unsuccessful love life. When she discovers her current boyfriend, Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), is married she finds herself becoming friends with Mark's wife Kate (Leslie Mann). When Kate and Carly discover Mark has a third lover, Amber (Kate Upton), the duo recruits her to join in their quest to punish Mark for his cheating ways.
Review: I hated everything about the first half of The Other Woman. I even hated Leslie Mann, who I tend to love even though she's constantly appearing in films that I don't enjoy. The characters were unlikable or unbelievable, the humor was nonexistent and the general smarmy materialism of the "romance" was nauseating. Things get slightly better when Cameron Diaz's character becomes a bit more human and Mann is given an opportunity to give her character a bit more depth, but the film's stunt casting in Kate Upton and Nicki Minaj fails miserable as Minaj proves to be a terrible actress and Upton is either asked to do too little or is incapable of doing much at all. To his credit Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is perfectly detestable as Mark, but not nearly as menacing as his Game of Thrones character Jaime Lannister. You pity the cast, not their characters, in the end for having to go through the experience nearly as much as you pity those who paid to see this train wreck. The Other Woman doesn't know whose story it is telling, can't manage to figure out its tone and fails to provide any sort of levity or message. It tries to get by on charm alone and ultimately just feels insincere and intolerable.
The Railway Man
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
Starring: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard
Genre: Biography, Drama
Recommended To: Those looking for a decent drama that doesn't quite live up to the talents of its cast.
Synopsis: Eric (Colin Firth) suffers from traumatic flashbacks to the time when he was a British Army officer trapped in a Japanese labor camp towards the end of World War II. His wife, Patti (Nicole Kidman), is devoted, but struggles to understand his suffering. When Eric discovers that the man he holds responsible for this torture while in the camp is still alive he seeks him out in hopes of exacting revenge.
Review: The Railway Man is an intensely personal story with broad universal themes. It's a good film with solid performances from its talented cast, but it fails to really connect with its emotional core. Whereas a film like Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line is able to really grab an audience and get them inside of the various characters and their struggles in facing the emotional and physical demands of war Jonathan Teplitzky's The Railway Man doesn't really go beneath the surface. The story is told and leaves little room for misunderstanding, but it is missing a higher sense of artistry and craft. It doesn't inspire like The King's Speech or shake you to the core like the beach landing sequence in Saving Private Ryan did. It makes a solid effort in contrasting beautiful cinematography with the harsh realities of war and the way it echoes and haunts the soldiers that are forever bruised and scarred by their service. Unfortunately it falls still short of what Malick was able to do, but even the workmanlike effort of The Railway Man pays off with modest results.
-Ryan Michael Painter