Movies in Theaters on Friday, December 02, 2011
First-time writer-director Julia Leigh tips her auteur's hat to both Jane Campion and Stanley Kubrick with this psychosexual tale of a college student (Emily Browning of Sucker Punch) who descends into a dangerous underworld in which she goes from serving drinks in lingerie to a bunch of rich old men to taking a powerful drug that puts her into a deep sleep, during which the aforementioned rich old men‚ do things to her. The audience at the Cannes Film Festival (the fest invented to showcase films like this) was split right down the center with Sleeping Beauty; some praised the film's gorgeous visual design and Browning's brave performance (the term "brave performance" usually translates into "gets naked a lot") while others found its minimalism in both narrative and character development to be rather tedious (to put it nicely). We're sure it will find both its champions and enemies out here in the "real world" as well -- either way, there are worse ways to spend 101 minutes than by watching the truly luminous Emily Browning at work.
Michael Fassbender reteams with his Hunger director, Steve McQueen (yeah, we can't read his name without thinking of Bullitt, either), for this tale of a successful New York lawyer whose meticulously crafted daily (and nightly) routine as a sex addict takes a surprise turn when his free spirit sister (Carey Mulligan) arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay. Both Fassbender and Mulligan are already receiving acclaim for their performances (and can we assume these are indeed "brave" performances?), and McQueen apparently handles this difficult material with grace, maturity and an ever-escalating sense of tension (which should come as no surprise for those of you who saw Hunger). There's also been a lot of hulabaloo over Shame getting slapped with an NC-17, a rating that even after over 20 years since its inception is still something of a novelty every time it comes up -- hey, if you're going to make a movie about a sex addict starring Michael Fassbender, you might as well go all the way, right?
Takeshi Kitano (aka Beat Takeshi) is always welcome company (yes, even that movie he did with Omar Epps, Brother, had moments of greatness), so we're treating his latest crime drama as an early Christmas present, a gift from an old friend who's come in from the cold to deliver some good holiday cheer. Well, "good cheer" isn't always on the menu with Beat Takeshi, and Outrage looks to be no exception -- it's a Yakuza tale gone stark raving mad in which a small crew tries to keep the rivalry between two syndicates from escalating into an all-out war (though we're betting they fail in this mission). In this world, poor bastards get killed via dentist drill (shudder!) and guys get stabbed in the face when they're just trying to sit and enjoy the sauna; really, it's a wonder that the Yakuza ever gets anything done besides killing, because killing is apparently all they do. Anyway, if the red band trailer is any indication, the director of Sonatine has indeed gone back to his roots -- and beat them to a bloody pulp.
There looks to be about three different movies going on in this feel-good family drama from director Mike Sears, a TV documentarian and producer making his feature debut. The trailer is narrated by Ashley Greene of the Twilight movies, though we're not sure how the story (or stories) could be told from her character's perspective -- she seems to be but the girlfriend of the protagonist, a beefcake pretty boy with a thousand dollar haircut (Kellan Lutz, another Twilight alum) who wallows in self-destruction after his Marine father is killed in Iraq until he's sent to an arduous Lacrosse training camp (or something), where he learns to be a man. Does that sound right? Anyway, you've got two hot young stars and an inspirational story about rising to the occasion, so this has its Heart in the right place even if the script's a jumbled mess; meanwhile, we can't believe that Gabrielle Anwar, the hottie dance partner in Scene of a Woman, is now old enough to play the mother of a teenager. Oh, time and tide.