CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – There’s a large part of me that wants to wholeheartedly recommend and embrace “Cloud Atlas” for two reasons. One, it’s based on arguably the best book of the millennium so far, David Mitchell’s stunning masterpiece. And if more people see the movie, more are likely to read a book that everyone should experience.
CHICAGO – Definitely one of the strangest films so far in 2013 is “Upside Down,” featuring a dream pairing of Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess. The problem is they exist as disparate lovers on opposing planets, with opposite gravitational pulls. Thus what is up for Kirsten is down for Jim, or vice-versa?
CHICAGO – Not all great works of literature make great works of film. David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” is a masterpiece but Tom Tykwer, Andy & Lana Wachowksi’s “Cloud Atlas” is definitely not. It is an ambitious work with many of Mitchell’s fascinating ideas about the ripple effect of emotion through time left intact but it is a work that frustrates as often as it thrills.
CHICAGO – Director Lone Scherfig has a keen eye for observation when charting the coming-of-age and disillusionment of characters awakening to life’s injustices. Her superb 2009 film, “An Education,” followed the painful yet vital journey of a young woman who discovers what she truly wants out of life. “One Day” is a more pessimistic film, since it focuses on the various obstacles preventing one from living the life they desire until it’s too late.
CHICAGO – In the sure hands of director Lone Scherfig, the underrated film “An Education” brought Carey Mulligan to full light. Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess generate similar radiance in Scherfig’s new film, “One Day.”
CHICAGO – Director Lone Scherfig has a rare delicate touch when it comes to portraying the subtlety of human relationships in films. After a triumph in 2009 directing Carey Mulligan in “An Education,” Scherfig returns with Anne Hathaway in the new film “One Day.”
CHICAGO – “Nature is your jailer, and she is without mercy.” So says the guard at the Siberian prison that houses the leads in Peter Weir’s harrowing true story of escape, pain, and survival, “The Way Back.” It’s so desolate, freezing, and dangerous in the wilds of Siberia, that prisons barely need walls or guards. Where would people go? A group of seven men were willing to find out and their story has been documented in “The Way Back,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD.
CHICAGO – “Heartless” is a Faustian nightmare, a story of a man who sees behind the curtain of the real world to the creatures of chaos that really run it. It’s a surprisingly riveting and accomplished piece of work, bursting at the seams with attitude and ideas. Many films have attempted to recreate a truly terrifying night vision but “Heartless” finds that dark place between the waking world and that of our worst dreams to become something that deserves (and probably will find on DVD) a wider audience.
CHICAGO – The best parts of a Zack Snyder picture have consistently been the opening title sequences, from “Dawn of the Dead”’s apocalyptic montage to “Watchmen”’s brilliant prologue scored to Bob Dylan’s “The Time They Are A-Changin’.” Snyder’s latest problematic novel adaptation, “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” is no exception.
CHICAGO – Although the name Jim Sturgess might not be recognized, his work in ‘Across the Universe’ and ‘21’ has certainly made him identifiable. He is in a newly released film about the Irish Republican Army, “Fifty Dead Man Walking.”