Upcoming Theatrical Releases
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 28
Director: John Crowley
R; 96 mins
In the international suspense thriller “Closed Circuit,” a high-profile terrorism case unexpectedly binds together two ex-lovers on the defense team – testing the limits of their loyalties and placing their lives in jeopardy. One morning, a busy London market is decimated by an explosion. In the manhunt that follows, only one member of the suspected terrorist cell survives: Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto), who is arrested and jailed. Preparations begin for what promises to be the trial of the century. But there’s a hitch: the government will use classified evidence to prosecute Erdogan, evidence so secret that neither he nor his lawyers can be allowed to see it. Hence the need for the Attorney General (Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent) to appoint a Special Advocate, an additional government-approved defense lawyer (Claudia Simmons-Howe, played by Golden Globe Award nominee Rebecca Hall), one who has clearance to see classified evidence and who can argue for its full disclosure when the trial moves to “closed” session. The rules for the Special Advocate are clear: once the secret evidence is shared with her, Claudia will not be allowed to communicate even with the defendant or with other members of the defense team. But just as the case is on the eve of going to trial, Erdogan’s lawyer dies suddenly, and a new defense attorney, Martin Rose (Eric Bana), quickly steps in. Martin is tenacious, driven, and brilliant – and an ex-lover of Claudia’s. The two lawyers make an uncomfortable pact to keep their former affair hidden. But as Martin begins to piece the case together, the outlines of a sinister conspiracy emerge, one that will draw him and Claudia dangerously close again. (Synopsis by Focus Features)
If the “summary” Focus Features put out didn’t warn you, this film suffers from severe over-explanation, and is too predictable and narrow to ever amount to anything. To sum up the entire plot: the government is pretty shady. Thanks, but we didn’t need 96 minutes and ten bucks to tell us that.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 30
Director: Courtney Solomon and Yaron Levy
Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) is a burned out race car driver who is thrust into a do-or-die mission behind the wheel when his wife is kidnapped. With Brent’s only ally being a young hacker (Selena Gomez), his one hope of saving his wife is to follow the orders of the mysterious voice (Jon Voight) who’s watching his every move through cameras mounted on the car Brent’s driving. (Synopsis by Warner Bros.)
Todd Gilchrist at The Wrap says it best: “‘Getaway’ is a movie for people who think ‘Taken’ is too complicated.’ This can’t even be enjoyed as a car crash popcorn flick. Absolutely unwatchable.
Director: Kar Wai Wong
PG; 95 mins
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, THE GRANDMASTER is an epic action feature inspired by the life and times of the legendary kung fu master, Ip Man. The story spans the tumultuous Republican era that followed the fall of China’s last dynasty, a time of chaos, division and war that was also the golden age of Chinese martial arts. Filmed in a range of stunning locations that include the snow-swept landscapes of Northeast China and the subtropical South, THE GRANDMASTER features virtuosoperformances by some of the greatest stars of contemporary Asian cinema, including Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang. (Synopsis by Weinstein)
Not Wong’s best work, but still a very good adaptation of the “Ip Man” story. Visually stunning and powerfully subtle even if the plot is a little thin.
Upcoming DVD Releases
The Great Gatsby
Director: Baz Luhrmann
PG-13; 142 mins.
“The Great Gatsby” follows Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and sky-rocketing stocks. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan(Joel Edgerton). It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without of the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles. (Synopsis by Warner Bros.)
This burlesque song and dance routine attempts to breathe new life into a literary classic. You have to accept certain things with Luhrmann at the helm. But for a script that is so faithful to the book, it manages to miss horribly on theme and character. Then again, fans of the book have been known to miss the point entirely before.
Pain and Gain
Director: Michael Bay
R; 129 mins.
From acclaimed director Michael Bay comes “Pain and Gain,” a new action comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. Based on the unbelievable true story of a group of personal trainers in 1990s Miami who, in pursuit of the American Dream, get caught up in a criminal enterprise that goes horribly wrong. (Synopsis by the Official Site)
God help me, but the first half of this Bay flick is actually… ahhh… God… not…not… bad. This might be the best film he’s ever made—not that that is saying anything. As a black comedy about American decadence, Bay’s signature style actually works in a tongue in cheek way. I don’t believe for a minute he actually intended that, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. It goes off the rails into Bay-ism’s during the second half, but you could do worse for a popcorn flick (cough “Getaway”).