Screening Room: “Captain Phillips,” “Machete Kills” and more

Posted on: 6:00 am, October 11, 2013, by , updated on: 03:21pm, October 11, 2013

1. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
PG-13
Columbia
RUSS
Director Paul Greengrass brings the patented docudrama style he used in “United 93” and the “Bourne” films to the involving true-life thriller, “Captain Phillips.” Tom Hanks plays the title character whose cargo ship is overtaken by a small band of Somali pirates.
SHAWN
The docudrama style works to perfection thanks to the crisp editing and realistic execution. Kudos. But the film is also socially and politically lazy.
RUSS
The convincing performances and skillful hand-held camera technique add to the movie’s realism. Even though most of us know the outcome to this story, the film manages to build substantial tension.
SHAWN
I just wish more films of this type would copy what “Argo” did in its first five minutes. Give me some context on why these guys became pirates in a clever way. An understanding of Somalian culture and history would also be helpful. Set up the situation so it just doesn’t come across as scary guys with guns who want to steal and scare Tom Hanks boat. It’s called responsible filmmaking.
RUSS: 4 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags
2. MACHETE KILLS
Open Road Films
R
RUSS
“Machete Kills” is the sequel to the violent 2010 exploitation movie homage, “Machete,” which was, in turn, based on a fake trailer from the movie, “Grindhouse.” Danny Trejo returns as the ex-federale who is assigned by President Charlie Sheen to bring down arms dealer Mel Gibson.
SHAWN
Director Robert Rodriguez could care less about conventional filmmaking rules. And has created his own unique genre. And “Machete” is a perfect example of his madness.
RUSS
The joke told in gleeful bad taste has worn very thin, so “Machete Kills” may signal that it’s time to kill this franchise.
SHAWN
Someone missed the point. “Machete Kills” is purposely absurd and silly but it’s also an action extravaganza that perfectly combines over the top action, mayhem and clever cameos.
RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags
3. INEQUALITY FOR ALL
Radius – TWC
PG
RUSS
This enlightening documentary is presented by economist Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton. It focuses on the income inequality in America, which is reportedly at an all-time high, and explains the reason for the gap and its consequences for the overall economy. Yes, it’s a real horror film.
RUSS: 4 Popcorn Bags
4. ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW
FilmBuff
Not rated
RUSS
This subversive micro-budget sci-fi horror flick was surreptitiously filmed at Disney World. Amazingly, the usually litigious Disney organization didn’t stop its release. A bizarre and surreal black-and-white entry that was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival, “Escape from Tomorrow” looks like the work of a David Lynch wannabe. It’s intriguing, but the final product isn’t as clever as its premise.
RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags
5. UNLIMITED
Seatzy
PG-13
RUSS
Real life Kansas City personality Harold Finch becomes a character in a fictional drama called “Unlimited.” Finch is a former NASA scientist and entrepreneur who helped found Padgett-Thompson and the Johnson County Community College.
A crime thriller/sci-fi/adventure drama, “Unlimited” tells the story of a young man who travels just South of the US-Mexican border to help his former MIT professor work on a device that will potentially generate free, unlimited energy. There, he’s nearly killed by drug cartel thugs who want to use the device for own nefarious ends. The man is given shelter in an orphanage run by Finch, played by former US Senator and “Law and Order” star, Fred Thompson.
A well-produced faith-based film, “Unlimited” is really about the unlimited power of human potential and this spiritual message is easy to take.
RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags
ALSO OPENING THIS WEEK:
-”Romeo & Juliette” is a controversial adaptation of the classic play by Julian Fellows of “Downton Abbey” fame. His truncated text jettisons much of Shakespeare’s poetry.
-”Red Wing” is a faith-based movie starring Bill Paxton that’s loosely based on a George Sand novella.

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