January 24th New Releases
A couple of real surprises this week…. The Whistleblower landed without any hype; in fact I hadn’t even heard of it, but thought the premise seemed promising. It’s based on a true story of a Nebraska beat cop, played by Rachel Wiesz, who joins a private security company contracted to run crime investigations for the U.N. in post-war Bosnia. She uncovers information that her own co-workers are involved in a sex trafficking ring, and risks her own life to expose it. The movie’s heart and soul is the performance by Wiesz, and although the story can be grim at times, it’s a fantastic film.
Hugh Jackman in “Real Steel” is another one that caught me by surprise. I’m not the biggest fan of movies about “mecha” characters, in this case boxing robots, but with Steven Spielberg producing, I figured I had to give it a chance. Glad I did, because it really is a great movie. It has characters that you’ll care about, and kind of heartwarming story about an estranged father and son, and the “boxing” elements take a lot of cues from inspirational stories like Rocky. I mean, let’s be real, it’s not a film for fans of the festival circuit – it’s still about boxing robots – but I suspect that most mainstream viewers are going to watch this and find themselves really enjoying this.
50/50 was marketed at a “laugh-out-loud” comedy, but while there are some great comedic moments featuring Seth Rogan’s trademark potty-monologues, the movie’s core is a story about cancer. Not exactly a topic that evokes hilarity. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who plays Adam) is a great actor who likes to fly under the radar with roles that flirt with the indie scene, and brings that vibe to a more mainstream feature here. He and Rogan have wonderful chemistry together as a pair of shlubs who are dealing, each in their awkward way, with a disease that threatens to kill one of them. Bryce Dallas Howard, as Adam’s cold, emotionally aloof artist-girlfriend, brings the same kind of nasty charm that she brought to The Help. Great cast, great story, great movie.