Theatrical Releases This Week
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Based on the classic novel of the same name, the international thriller is set at the height of the Cold War years of the mid-20th Century. George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a disgraced British spy, is rehired in secret by his government – which fears that the British Secret Intelligence Service, a.k.a. MI-6, has been compromised by a double agent working for the Soviets. (Synopsis by Focus Features)
Getting strong early reviews, especially for Oldman’s subtle performance. Check out my review on The Dagger, coming soon.
The Devil Inside
Director: William Brent Bell and Joaquin Perea
In 1989, emergency responders received a 9-1-1 call from Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) confessing that she had brutally killed three people. 20 years later, her daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) seeks to understand the truth about what happened that night. She travels to the Centrino Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Italy where her mother has been locked away to determine if her mother is mentally ill or demonically possessed. When she recruits two young exorcists (Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth) to cure her mom using unconventional methods combining both science and religion, they come face-to-face with pure evil in the form of four powerful demons possessing Maria. Many have been possessed by one; only one has been possessed by many. (Synopsis by the Paramount Insurge)
Yet another poorly-conceived exorcism movie to kick off the new year. This shtick has gotten beyond old at this point. Skip this and watch one of the DVDs you got for Chanukah instead.
DVD Releases This Week
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Director: Troy Nixey
While architect Alex Hurst (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) restore their Gothic mansion’s period interiors, Alex’s young daughter Sally (Bailee Madison) can investigate the macabre history and dark corners of the estate. Spurring Sally’s investigation are the voices-rasping whispers who call out to her from the basement, who promise her understanding and friendship, who are so very hungry and would like to be set free. When Sally gives in to her curiosity, she opens a gateway into a hellish underworld from which an army of beady-eyed, sharp-clawed monsters emerge, small in size but endless in number. Confronted with the horror that now threatens to taker her life and destroy her family, Sally desperately tries to warn the whole house, but there’s just one problem: no one believes her. (Synopsis by Miramax)
Apparently we’re ringing in the new year with godawful horror movie week. Skip this and see the much better Guillermo del Toro project “The Devil’s Backbone.”
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Contagion follows the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days. As the fast-moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself. At the same time, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart. (Synopsis by Warner Brothers)
This film is surprisingly better than you’d expect, for the genre. The strong director and cast play a big role in making the idea work. At the worst, it’ll make you wish they would remake “The Stand.” Or maybe not.