Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
Modern film crew repeats history's mistakes in the gripping new film, 'Even the Rain'
History repeats itself in alarming, ironic, and yet inevitable ways in the adroit Spanish drama Even the Rain. This story of a modern Spanish movie crew descending on a remote Bolivian town to shoot a historical film exposing Christopher Columbus' mistreatment of the indigenous people in the New World becomes a textured, multi-layered study of the many guises of exploitation.
The film is directed with wit and intensity by Icíar Bollaín, a renowned Spanish film actress who has segued into a career behind the camera. Screenwriter Paul Laverty, longtime collaborator with English social realism director Ken Loach on films like My Name Is Joe and The Wind That Shakes the Barley, lived in Central America for three years, working for a human rights organization. Bollaín and Laverty met during the shoot of Loach's Spanish Civil War drama Land and Freedom. Together, they craft a wry and gripping tale that suggests how little things have changed in 500 years.
Funny script, Depp's lizard hero, highlight Western spoof 'Rango'
Johnny Depp has always been an experimental character actor trapped in the body of a guy who looks like Johnny Depp. But he finds a way to do an end run around the burden of his own good looks—and unleash his inner clown—in Rango, an abundantly silly and entertaining animated family comedy in which Depp brings voice and life to the film's unorthodox hero, a bulbous-eyed green lizard with big dreams.
'Nora's Will' a lovely tone-poem on love and absolution
Absolution can sometimes be found in the most unusual circumstances. Just ask the characters in Nora's Will, an engrossing, thoroughly engaging little tone poem from Mexican writer-director Mariana Chenillo. Intricate, yet simple in design, and laced with deliciously dry humor, this low-key meditation on love, loss, and family ties also ponders the power of absolution, especially among those who may not realize how badly they need it.
Chenillo's original Spanish title, 5 Dias Sin Nora (5 Days Without Nora) perhaps speaks more to the heart of a film whose central (or at least most dominant) character is dead when the story begins.
Few 'Speech' impediments in store at this year's Oscar
Historical action lacks depth, conviction in 'The Eagle'
It's big and shiny and carved out of bronze. But it's true value is its symbolism, standing for both the glory of the Roman Empire and the brutality of conquest (depending on one's viewpoint). It's the Eagle of the Ninth Legion, the standard carried into battle by a company of Roman Legionnaires who vanished into the murky mists of northern Britain in 120 A.D. And most of the historical action film, The Eagle, is devoted to trying to convince us—without much success—that this object is worth a lot of bloody slaughter.
The film is based on Rosemary Sutcliff's popular 1954 historical young adult novel, “The Eagle of the Ninth.” Its YA origins are evident in the film's straightforward action plot, simplified relationships, and the high degree of palaver about the "honor" of Rome while running riot over the indigenous tribes of Britain—who are (surprise!) inspired to respond with equal savagery. One hopes the reason director Kevin Macdonald and scriptwriter Jeremy Brock (they also collaborated on The Last King of Scotland) are resurrecting this material now is to draw parallels to our modern age of reckless adventuring in foreign lands. But The Eagle never gains the level of complexity that would make its story profound.