Film » Film Capsules

Film Capsules

What's playing this week


Sarah's Key (PG-13)

Kristin Scott Thomas plays Julia, an American journalist living in France with her businessman husband Bertrand and teenage daughter. Just as they begin renovation on his family's apartment, Julia becomes obsessed with writing a story about a 1942 incident in which French police arrested close to 14,000 Jews. The Starzynski family, including daughter Sarah, lived in the apartment during that time. Julia uncovers Sarah's story slowly, just as her own family begins to unravel. The stories of Julia and Sarah touch on the small choices people make every day and what they add up to, whether good, evil, or cold neutrality. But Sarah's Key brings down those lofty ideals to conventional filmmaking. Julia's journey is interesting, but don't her struggles pale in comparison to Sarah's? Do we do enough justice to the past when we need to filter it through our own story, or is it an opportunity to give light to darkness? (Wendy Ward) Another Earth (PG-13) — In the opening scene of this pretentious, low-budget art-house offering, graduating high-schooler Rhoda caps a night of partying by drunkenly plowing her car into a family. By the time she's released from prison four years later, a planet that looks exactly like Earth has surfaced in the sky. She also begins a relationship with the only survivor of the accident: a music professor who's now a drunken mess. Despite its mind-blowing premise, Another Earth is a quiet, reflective drama wrapped in the hue of a sci-fi parable. But for a movie filled with so much implausibility, it takes itself way too seriously. (Michael Gallucci)

Cowboys & Aliens (PG-13) — It's everything you could possibly want in an action movie: James Bond, Indiana Jones, and the director of Iron Man. Daniel Craig plays Jake Lonergan, a wanted man with a mysterious past even he can't remember. Harrison Ford is a prick of a cattle owner who wants Jake dead. Eventually they band together to save the small town being attacked by hostile aliens in laser-blasting spaceships. It really doesn't add up to much more than cowboys and aliens duking it out in the Old West. But what else did you expect? (Gallucci)

Final Destination 5 (R) — Not much changes in this shallow spectacle of needless gore and cheap thrills. Like other outings in the franchise, the plot is a mere vehicle to usher in the most bizarre and ridiculous set of coincidences leading to some brutally gruesome deaths. A group of young adults manage to escape their untimely demises; Death feels cheated and tracks down each survivor. That's really all there is to it. The movie adds up to no more than a series of unfortunate events and miserable bad luck. If only the filmmakers would put as much creativity into the story or characters. Hopefully, this really is the final installment. (Ben Gifford)

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (PG) — Glee fans, rejoice! Your 3D concert experience has arrived! Everyone else can carry on with their lives, since there's not much to see here. The movie is put together in a highly polished package with some "behind-the-scenes" footage (with all actors still in character) about how Glee makes life better for three people. Gleeks will feel at home right away with familiar songs by Journey and My Chemical Romance. In fact, all your favorites are here, but some of the songs are total clunkers. The movie's 3D is no more than a poorly implemented and unnecessary gimmick. (Gifford)

The Help (PG-13) — Adapted from a bestselling book, The Help tells the story of three women whose unlikely friendship captures the plight of black maids in 1960s Mississippi. Drenched in soft southern sunlight, the movie weaves together the lives of both the black and white women of one community in a way that's heartbreaking and uplifting. Credit is due to the stellar cast, which includes the busy Emma Stone, Sissy Spacek, Allison Janney, and the supremely underrated Viola Davis (from Doubt). And just when you think the story is going to take a turn toward the obvious, it turns back. Who knows when it became uncool for movies to have happy endings, but with any luck, The Help will set a trend worth emulating. (Lydia Munnell)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13) — After Tim Burton's disastrous 2001 remake, a total reboot of Planet of the Apes was in order. This prequel starts at the very beginning, when a lab chimp injected with a serum to cure Alzheimer's gives birth to Caesar, a super-smart ape raised by scientist James Franco. As he gets older, Caesar begins to question his life as a "pet." After a violent outburst, Caesar is caged with other chimps in a hellish animal sanctuary, where he plots a simian revolution. That's the payoff to the buildup, which is occasionally thrilling, sometimes silly, and completely mesmerizing. By the end of this madhouse of a movie, you'll be rooting for the apes. (Gallucci)

30 Minutes or Less (R) — Dwayne and Travis (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) are losers without prospects. But Dwayne's dad is rich, so he figures he can solve his problems by hiring a hit man to kill the old man and collect the inheritance. Still, hit men aren't cheap, so Dwayne and Travis kidnap pizza-delivery guy Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), strap an explosive vest on him, and tell him he has 10 hours to rob a bank and deliver $100,000 to them. Unlike the tragic Pennsylvania heist this story is based upon, 30 Minutes or Less is a whole lot of fun. Its bizarre and raunchy script piles on the crazy. (Ben Gifford)

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