Fri, May 23, 2014 - Page 10 News List

Movie releases

Compiled by Ian Bartholomew  /  Contributing reporter

X-Men : Days of Future Past

Possibly the most ambitious X-men movie yet, director Bryan Singer pushes the level of narrative and character complexity to the limit. Sometimes the film is teetering on the verge of falling apart under the weight of plot points, but Singer always seems to have a neat special effect, a well-timed gag or an action set piece around the corner, chivving the action along and keeping the audience engaged. The story whips back and forth across two separate time periods as the characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in an epic battle that must change the past to save the future, Terminator style. The large cast of characters is taken on by some very talented actors, but even at 130-minutes there is hardly enough time to give them all enough space to really shine. Singer pushes things along at a frenetic face, and while there is a treasure trove of superhero lore waiting to be picked up by the fanboy crowd, the sheer scale of the story is likely to leave newcomers to the franchise more bewildered than entertained.

Walk of Shame

Don’t let the presence of the redoubtable Elizabeth Banks fool you. Banks is an amazing actress who can perform miracles on screen, but even her very considerable efforts cannot breathe life into Walk of Shame. A reporter’s dream of becoming a news anchor is compromised after a one-night stand leaves her stranded in downtown LA without a phone, car, ID or money — and only eight hours to make it to the most important job interview of her life. The concept has plenty of promise, and should provide plenty of opportunities to skewer the way women are perceived based on appearance, but instead opts for generic racial and gender gags. The screenplay by director Steven Brill repeatedly presents scenes that defy credibility, and the humor never says anything remotely fresh about human nature or the world we live in.

Cutie and the Boxer

Ushio Shinohara flirted briefly with fame as a visual artist in the 1960s. Now in his 80s, he continues to work in his own highly esoteric style, living on the edge of poverty in a second-floor Brooklyn walkup with his wife, Noriko. Their relationship is not easy, and while Noriko has been a faithful companion, subordinating herself to his ambitions, she has grown to want more as an artist with her own individual voice. Director Zachary Heinzerling’s documentary chronicling their relationship, the sacrifices they have made for each other and for art as a way of life, was five-years in the making, and its painfully intimate look at the aging couple’s struggle to survive amid personal and financial strain is both heartbreaking and intricately profound. More than a film about an artist, it is about husbands and wives and how they can live together.

Golden Cage

Also released under the title The Golden Dream, this Mexican film by director Diego Quemada-Diez titled La jaula de oro tells the story of four youths from Guatemala making the dangerous journey to the land of opportunity in the north. While there is some bonding between the characters, and one at least is much changed by the experience, this is not a Disney-esque road movie about youthful discovery through adversity. The lives of the four start out pretty grim, and their journey puts them in all kinds of danger. The film gets off to a slow and confused start with Quemada-Diez eschewing any formal introduction to his characters, who are themselves not particularly easy to like. The four principal actors have tough faces and surly attitudes and they are convincingly awkward as they face terrors from corrupt cops, ruthless bandits, kidnappers and border patrols. The kindness of strangers is sometimes touched on, but on the whole the journey is grim and an unpleasant death hangs close over the foursome. Quemada-Diez is relentlessly unsentimental with his characters, making this a sometimes tough film to watch, but it is never gratuitous in its horror nor does it strain to find some higher meaning in the adventure.

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