Susanne Bier’s In a Better World, your LiC movie pick of the week
It’s April Fools Day and the joke this weekend is mostly on movie audiences. The good news is that Susanne Bier’s Oscar-winning In A Better World is worth a look; Trust starring Clive Owen and Catherine Keener is better than I expected it to be and the documentary The Elephant in the Living Room is a moving look at people who keep wild animals. Also, Win Win and Jane Eyre are getting expansions and so is Rabbit Hole for some reason. All three are among the better films to hit theaters in the last few months. Finally, the Jake Gyllenhaal sci-fi romance Source Code from Duncan Jones (Moon) might be your best bet in wide release.
- In a Better World (*** 1/2). The story surrounding two young boys – one the victim of bullies, the other a troubled boy working through the death of his mother – works best in its individual human moments, but less well when it tries to paint a bigger picture about violence, revenge and forgiveness. Still, it’s a worthy Oscar-winner. (Review) (Limited)
- Trust (***). The innocent 14-year-old daughter (Liana Liberato) of a happy suburban family (Clive Owen, Catherine Keener) meets a boy on the internet except of course the boy is not what he seems. The first half of the movie borders uncomfortably on ABC Afterschool Special territory as it pushes every “fear the internet” button as hard as it can, but the second half as the family flies apart in the face of the trauma that befalls their little girl is honest and pretty moving. Owen and Keener are good as you’d expect, but young newcomer Liberato is a nice surprise in a challenging role. (Limited)
- The Elephant in the Living Room (****). A moving documentary look at the surprisingly wide-spread phenomenon of people keeping dangerous exotic pets like lions, cougars, alligators and snakes in their homes. Though it tells far-ranging stories from many of the 30 states where keeping such pets is entirely legal (9 don’t even require permits), the focus falls on Tim Harrison, an Ohio police officer, paramedic and fireman who has made it his life’s work to rescue captive wild animals when they’re abandoned or when they turn deadly and Terry Brumfield, a well-meaning animal lover whose two African lions risk becoming more than he can realistically handle. Director Michael Webber takes an unexpectedly even-handed approach to his subjects, allowing them to be fully human and sympathetic while also literally exposing the elephant in the room which is that people have no business keeping wild animals.
- Source Code. A soldier (Jake Gyllenhaal) is given the experimental ability to enter another person’s body for the last 8 minutes of that person’s life thus enabling him to relive a commuter train bombing over and over in the hope of stopping it and also preventing a much larger threat to the whole city of Chicago. Somewhere in there he tries to break a piece off of Michelle Monaghan. Vera Farmiga co-stars. (Wide)
- Rubber. A sentient rubber tire with telepathic abilities roams the desert wrecking stuff and killing people. For what it’s worth, this one has been tickling the collective ironic fancy of the fanboy set as it’s rolled from festival to festival. Indeed it drew the biggest line I saw at AFI for a non-premiere. Me? I was in line for something else .(Limited)
- Super. Another fanboy favorite, this homemade-superhero comedy stars Rainn Wilson as a dope who puts on a suit and transforms himself into The Crimson Bolt when his wife (Liv Tyler) dumps him for a drug dealer (Kevin Bacon). Ellen Page is the irony-spouting sidekick “Boltie.” Let me know when the mock superhero genre runs its course. (NY, LA)
- Circo. This documentary about a circus traveling rural Mexico has been stirring up buzz on the festival circuit for a while now. Sometimes I think documentarians just sit around trying to come up with the most obscure subjects they can imagine. Sheep herders? Let’s go! A run-down Mexican circus? Let’s do it! Funny thing is, these things often turn out to be kind of fascinating. (NY. LA 4/8)
- Hop. Because nothing says “Happy Easter” like a talking CGI bunny that craps jelly beans. (Wide)
- Insidious. Haunted house horror from the writing-directing team behind Saw. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne star as a couple who move into a house beset by evil spirits. (Wide)
- Cat Run. Paz Vega plays a high-priced escort in this action comedy about a couple of bumbling detectives who get in over their heads. How much do you want to bet Paz gets naked? I’m not sure I can even remember what she looks like with clothes on. She might just be the first celebrity breasts I’m bored of looking at. [Update: Turns out I meant Paz De La Huerta. I’m not quite tired of Ms. Vega’s celebrity breasts yet though I’m beginning to wonder if the name “Paz” means “She who will show her cans”] (Limited)
- Queen to Play. Kevin Kline and Sandrine Bonnaire make romance in Corsica. She’s a married chess-playing chamber maid. He’s a surly American doctor. Sparks fly. (Limited)
- Wrecked. Look for this thriller on VOD if you don’t live in NY or LA. Adrien Brody plays an injured man trapped in a car wreck with no memory of what happened. Not only must he try and free himself, eventually he must also confront the truth about who he really is (dun, dun, DUN!!!) (Limited)
- The Last Godfather. Hyung Rae Shim directs Harvey Keitel as a Mafia godfather who has a half-Korean son. Comic gangster antics ensue as he trains the young man to be the next godfather. Oh, you crazy clash of cultures!
- The Four Times. The official blurb for this one will either cause you to fill your pants with art house joy or make you run screaming for the familiar, action-packed safety of the multiplex: “An idyllic village in Italy’s mountainous region of Calabria is the setting for Le Quattro Volte, an exquisitely filmed take on the cycles of life. Structured in four parts, per its title, it opens with a shepherd tending his herd of goats, then shifts focus to one goat in particular, the tree under which he seeks shelter, and the industrialized fate of that plant…” (NY 3/30)
Filed under: Weekend Forecast