Theatrical Releases This Week
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22
Hit & Run
Director: David Palmer and Dax Shepard
R; 100 mins.
Hit and Run is a comedy about a young couple (Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard) that risks it all when they leave their small town life and embark on a road trip that may lead them towards the opportunity of a lifetime. Their fast-paced road trip grows awkwardly complicated and hilarious when they are chased by a friend from the past (Bradley Cooper), a federal marshal (Tom Arnold) and a band of misfits. (Synopsis by Open Road)
The astronaut from “Zathura” gets his second chance writing and directing in a fairly limp chase / love story. While the film misses as much as hits, there is at least chemistry between the actors that makes it fun.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 24
Director: Todd Lincoln
PG-13; 82 mins
When frightening events start to occur in their home, young couple Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan) discover they are being haunted by a presence that was accidentally conjured during a university parapsychology experiment. The horrifying apparition feeds on their fear and torments them no matter where they try to run. Their last hope is an expert in the supernatural, Patrick (Tom Felton), but even with his help they may already be too late to save themselves from this terrifying force. (Synopsis by Warner Brothers)
For some reason this didn’t go straight to DVD. More of the same for horror fans. We seem to be in a trend of getting one of these a month. Let’s buck that trend and hope we get some originality back into the genre.
Director: David Koepp
PG-13; 85 mins
Dodging speeding cars, crazed cabbies, open doors, and eight million cranky pedestrians is all in a day’s work for Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the best of New York’s agile and aggressive bicycle messengers. It takes a special breed to ride the fixie – super lightweight, single-gear bikes with no brakes and riders who are equal part skilled cyclists and suicidal nutcases who risk becoming a smear on the pavement every time they head into traffic. But a guy who’s used to putting his life on the line is about to get more than even he is used to when a routine delivery turns into a life or death chase through the streets of Manhattan. When Wilee picks up his last envelope of the day on a premium rush run, he discovers this package is different. This time, someone is actually trying to kill him. (Synopsis by Sony)
Positives: 1. Reliable Gordon-Levitt. 2. Koepp’s directing. Negatives: Everything else. The premise seems to be too ridiculous to be taken seriously—a major drawback when you are trying to make a serious thriller.
Celeste and Jesse
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
R; 91 mins
Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) met in high school, married young and are growing apart. Now thirty, Celeste is the driven owner of her own media consulting firm, Jesse is once again unemployed and in no particular rush to do anything with his life. Celeste is convinced that divorcing Jesse is the right thing to do — she is on her way up, he is on his way nowhere, and if they do it now instead of later, they can remain supportive friends. Jesse passively accepts this transition into friendship, even though he is still in love with her. As the reality of their separation sets in, Celeste slowly and painfully realizes she has been cavalier about their relationship, and her decision, which once seemed mature and progressive, now seems impulsive and selfish. But her timing with Jesse is less than fortuitous… (Synopsis by Sony Classics)
The tone is at least right – even if the characters are too impossibly hip to be real. An active attempt is made to avoid the typical rom-com pit falls. But it ends up being too shallow and slick to evoke the emotions required.
Searching for Sugar Man
Director: Malik Bendjelloul
PG; 87 mins
Searching for Sugar Man tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest ’70s rock icon who never was. Discovered in a Detroit bar in the late ’60s by two celebrated producers struck by his soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics, they recorded an album which they believed would secure his reputation as the greatest recording artist of his generation. In fact, the album bombed and the singer disappeared into obscurity amid rumors of a gruesome on-stage suicide. But a bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and, over the next two decades, he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero. Their investigation leads them to a story more extraordinary than any of the existing myths about the artist known as Rodriguez. (Synopsis by Sony Pictures Classic)
Rarely does the narrative of a rock doc overshadow the music, but it does here. The mystery of the man is seamlessly interwoven with the power of music. High marks.
DVD Releases This Week
Director: Larry Charles
R; 83 mins
The heroic story of a North African dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed. (Synopsis by Paramount)
Previously reviewed by The Dagger.