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American Hustle

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American Hustle

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LABOR DAY

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, Towne. PG. 111 minutes.

Director Jason Reitman adapted the Joyce Maynard novel about a convict (Josh Brolin) who forcefully enters the life of a depressed single mom (Kate Winslet) and her son (Gattlin Griffith). Veering away from his typically edgier fare, Reitman enters Nicholas Sparks territory with this romantic drama, but Winslet and Brolin keep the melodrama from flying out of orbit. ***

 

STARTING FRIDAY

THE DISAPPEARED

Cinematheque. 14A. 90 minutes.

After their fishing boat sinks, the members of the crew find themselves adrift in two dories in the Atlantic Ocean in this drama from director Shandi Mitchell, starring Billy Campbell and Shawn Doyle.

 

THE LEGO MOVIE

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 101 minutes.An ordinary Lego figure (voiced by Chris Pratt) is enlisted to lead a force of Lego good guys (including Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) against an evil megalomaniac plotting to glue the Lego universe together.

 

MONUMENTS MEN

Globe, Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital. PG. 118 minutes.

A platoon of art experts is assembled to retrieve stolen works of art from the Nazis in this fact-based combat drama starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett.

 

VAMPIRE ACADEMY

McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital. PG. 105 minutes.

Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) is a Dhampir, a half human/vampire who attends a special school where she learns of her role as a protective go-between twixt the peaceful, mortal Moroi vampires and the bloodthirsty, immortal Strigoi.

 

STARTING SATURDAY

I AM DIVINE

Cinematheque. Subject to classification. 86 minutes.

The early films of John Waters transformed overweight teen Harris Glenn Milstead into Divine, one of the world's most recognized drag queens and a sexual outlaw. This doc by Jeffrey Schwarz examines the life of Divine through the testimonies of Waters and others.

 

NOW PLAYING

The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.

 

AMERICAN HUSTLE

Globe, McGillivray, Polo Park. 14A. 138 minutes.

Director David O. Russell follows up last year's unexpected hit Silver Linings Playbook with a movie deserving of any and all accolades, recycling two of that film's stars -- Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence -- paired with Christian Bale and Amy Adams of The Fighter. Russell's take on the Abscam affair offers riches of deception and danger with terrific performances by Cooper and Lawrence as genuinely horrible people. ****

 

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

Grant Park. 14A. 121 minutes.

In the grand tradition of Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill, playwright Tracy Letts introduces another dysfunctional American family in the Westons. Fire-breathing matriarch Violet (Meryl Streep) holds savage court when her three daughters (Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicolson) show up to comfort their newly widowed, cancer-afflicted mom. Trimmed from its three-hour-and-20-minute stage incarnation, the downbeat drama retains its cathartic humour, but two hours of shrill tantrums and plate-smashing hysterics are overpowering. *** (Reviewed by Kevin Prokosh)

 

BRIDE FOR RENT

Globe. PG. 111 minutes.

To get cash from his trust fund, Rocco (Xian Lim) agrees to marry the beautiful, destitute Rocky (Kim Chiu), who needs the money to prevent her family from becoming homeless. Released earlier this year, this film by Mae Cruz is already the third highest-grossing Filipino romantic comedy of all time. In Filipino with English subtitles. Not reviewed.

 

DEVIL'S DUE

Kildonan Place, Towne. 14A. 89 minutes.

This found-footage variant of Rosemary's Baby follows a newlywed couple that finds themselves pregnant after a "lost night" during their honeymoon. As the pregnancy causes sinister changes in his wife's character, hubby suspects a demonic cult is observing awaiting their bundle of joy/doom. It's always dangerous when a cheap found footage-type thriller invites comparison to a classic as it tends to highlight its own inadequacies such as mediocre performances, lackadaisical character development and tired genre tropes. * 1/2

 

FROZEN

Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 102 minutes.

A young princess (voiced by Kristen Bell) must rise to the occasion when her sorceress sister (Idina Menzel) accidentally puts their kingdom in a deep freeze in this Disney animated musical. The songs are more poppy than the enduring Broadway-like songbooks of Disney musicals past, a weakness compensated in animation art that is particularly gorgeous. ***

 

GRAVITY

Polo Park Imax, Towne. PG. 91 minutes.

Director Alfonso Cuaròn's sometimes awesome dramatic thriller stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as a couple of astronauts whose space shuttle is destroyed by exploded satellite debris leaving them marooned and alone 600 kilometres above the Earth. It flows together so seamlessly, it seems like it wasn't even edited. When it comes to Hollywood narrative, this may be a game-changer. That said, it deserves a more interesting protagonist than Bullock's dour doc. ****

 

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 162 minutes.

In this second instalment of Peter Jackson's latest J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) attempts to aid a band of plucky dwarves in reclaiming their kingdom from the titular dragon. It dispenses with much of the painstaking geek exposition of the first film and brings on the action, with help from a couple of ass-kicking elves (Evangeline Lilly and Orlando Bloom) but still hews too close to Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy in plot, theme and execution. *** 1/2

 

I, FRANKENSTEIN

Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 93 minutes.

In a dystopian world where demons and gargoyles battle for supremacy, Victor Frankenstein's creation Adam (Aaron Eckhart), the key to the secret of human immortality, finds himself caught in the middle. Regrettably, the tone of the piece is saturated with phoney-baloney gravitas, which tends to leach the fun out of it. Adam is not the only thing in this movie without a soul. * 1/2

 

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT

Grant Park, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital. PG. 106 minutes.

Tom Clancy's canny CIA hero is rebooted for a second time, with Chris Pine taking on the role of a newly minted CIA recruit who uncovers a Russian plot to destroy the American economy. The first of the Ryan films not based on a Clancy novel, Shadow Recruit offers a more holistic reboot and turns out to be a wholly satisfactory, handsomely mounted affair, especially compared to the franchise fumble The Sum of All Fears. *** 1/2

 

LONE SURVIVOR

Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 122 minutes.

Four members of SEAL Team 10 find themselves outmanned and outgunned in the mountains of Afghanistan while on a mission to terminate a Taliban leader in this intense, fact-based war movie from director Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch. Befitting the American military experience in Afghanistan, it is a pretty chilling depiction of the horrors of combat in which even fighting men as exalted as SEALs can find themselves at a loss. *** 1/2

 

THE NUT JOB

Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 110 minutes.

When his cache of acorns is destroyed, a squirrel and his friends contrive a plan to live through the winter by invading a nut store. This is a surprisingly simple, funny and often cute slapstick comedy, better than any animated film released in the doldrums of January has a right to be. *** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

PHILOMENA

Grant Park. 14A. 98 minutes.

A political journalist (Steve Coogan) gets emotionally involved when he helps an older woman (Judi Dench) search for the son she forcibly gave up for adoption decades earlier. Philomena is a standard issue little-old-lady tour de force for Oscar winner Judi Dench, but it's a delicious change of pace for snarky funnyman Steve Coogan. **** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

RIDE ALONG

McGillivray, Polo Park, Towne. 14A. 100 minutes

Kevin Hart stars as a security guard who accepts the challenge when the cop brother (Ice Cube) of his intended bride invites him to accompany him on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta. Even by the standards of the well-worn buddy-cop genre, this is a lazy movie, insulting the audience by letting us stay five steps ahead of the hack screenwriters. ** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT

Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 95 minutes.

In a show of solidarity you'd only find in a rom-com, Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) come to the support of their about-to-be divorced pal Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) by promising to stay single and unattached, a vow that inevitably comes back to bite them, especially when Jason falls for a winsome writer (Imogen Poots). Coming after Joseph Gordon Levitt's more gutsy rom-com deconstruction Don Jon, this movie feels not only spineless but emasculated. *

 

12 YEARS A SLAVE

Grant Park. 14A. 134 minutes.

Director Steve McQueen adapted a harrowing memoir by Solomon Northrup (here played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man in upstate New York, abducted and sold into slavery. The beauty of this movie is in how we identify with Northup and come to understand the awful effects his loss of liberty had not just on him, but on the moral relativists and outright sadists who ran the machinery of slavery. ***** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Grant Park, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital. 18A. 180 minutes.

Martin Scorsese draws a bold parallel between the underworld of Goodfellas and the supposedly straight world of high finance with this memoir of a depraved stockbroker (Leonardo DiCaprio). Instead of violent excess, the film goes with sexual excess, but it remains a concise macroscopic depiction of the over-arching greed that derailed the economy. ****

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 6, 2014 ??65526

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