Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
Mirren shines in taut political thriller 'The Debt'
Is a painful truth better than an inspiring lie? How would one rate truth on a moral scale against national honor, vindication or justice? These are questions grappled with in The Debt, John Madden's gripping, tidily made (if at times, starkly visceral) suspense thriller about truth and its consequences. With a featured performance by the iconic Helen Mirren in one of her gutsiest roles, it's a persuasive, time-traveling political drama about how easily the facts can go astray in pursuit of a more appealing big picture.
Co-scripted by Matthew Vaughn (director of Layer Cake), his writing partner Jane Goldman (their collaborations include Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class), and Peter Straughn, The Debt is adapted from a 2007 Israeli film, Ha-Hov.
Irish cop dishes up rough justice in entertaining, profanely funny 'The Guard'
In Hollywood, the teaming up of mismatched lawmen—one orthodox, the other a wild man—might lead to a predictable odd-couple action comedy like Beverly Hills Cop, or the Lethal Weapon franchise. In John Michael McDonagh's The Guard, the pairing of a sophisticated U.S. Federal agent and an irascible small-town Irish police sergeant leads to philosophical debates, existential angst, musings on Anglo-Irish prejudices, and other explorations into the Irish character. It's also a comedy, profane, subversively funny, wholly unpredictable, and infinitely smarter and more textured than any dozen conventional action movies.
The great Brendan Gleeson gets to sink his chops into a delicious central role as Sgt. Gerry Boyle, precinct cop in a small rural village in County Galway, on the West Coast of Ireland.
Women confront war's aftermath in harrowing political drama 'Whistleblower'
Most war movies are made for and by men. They tend to be violent, testosterone jubilees about courage under fire, incredible battlefield heroics, and hard-fought victories. Canadian-born Ukrainian filmmaker Laysa Kondracki takes a different approach in her intense and harrowing drama, The Whistleblower. Not only does she view the process of war from a feminine perspective, she explores the lingering and devastating consequences of warfare on women long after the mission has supposedly been accomplished and the fighting troops have gone home.
The film is based on the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a police officer from Nebraska who joined the UN peacekeeping forces in war-ravaged Bosnia in 1999.
Cool premise never gets off the ground in 'Another Earth'
Rod Serling always used to say he conceived of "The Twilight Zone" as a forum for telling stories about the human condition thinly disguised as fantasy/sci-fi. The speculative film, Another Earth, attempts to set out in the same direction, offering up a very slightly science-fictionalized version of our present world to explore such larger thematic human issues as life, death, guilt, and forgiveness. Unfortunately, the film never quite gets where it's going. There's a lyrical eeriness to the storytelling, especially the handling of the sci-fi element. But the day-to-day details of the characters' lives are often unconvincing, while the thematic elements never quite resonate enough.
A big hit at Sundance this year, Another Earth was co-written by actress Brit Marling, who also stars, and Mike Cahill, who directs.
Chimp experiment reveals human foibles in smart doc 'Project Nim'
In 1973, some research scientists at Columbia University got a bright idea. They decided to raise an infant chimpanzee like a child, in the home of a human family, to see if it would be possible to teach him to communicate with sign language at the same rate that a human child learns language. "Wouldn't it be great if we could find out what a chimp was thinking?" they wondered. “Wouldn't it be a breakthrough in human-animal communication?”
Project Nim, the absorbing, often infuriating, always provocative new documentary about this chimp experiment poses another, equally compelling question: just how clueless does human science have to be?