Opening in cinemas today are Crazy, Stupid, Love, which features a fine cast - Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Julianne Moore, Project Nim, the extraordinary new documentary from James Marsh (Man on Wire), The Whistleblower, a confronting political drama starring Rachel Weisz and The Sorcerer and the White Snake, an CGI-heavy Chinese fantasy-adventure. I have actually seen three of these films already, which means it will be a relaxed week (ha!). I am looking forward to Crazy, Stupid, Love, though.
Crazy, Stupid, Love - At fortysomething, straight-laced Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is living the dream - good job, nice house, great kids and marriage to his high school sweetheart. But when Cal learns that his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) has cheated on him and wants a divorce, his 'perfect' life quickly unravels. Worse, in today's single world, Cal, who hasn't dated in decades, stands out as the epitome of un-smooth. Now spending his free evenings sulking alone at a local bar, the hapless Cal is taken on as wingman and protege to handsome player Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). This looks fun, and if the stellar cast deliver to their talents, this should be well worth seeing.
Project Nim - From James Marsh comes the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who in the 1970's became the focus of a landmark experiment which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised an nurtured like a human child. Following Nim's extraordinary journey through human society, and the enduring impact he makes on the people he meets along the way, the film is an unflinching and unsentimental biography of an animal we tried to make human. What we learn about his true nature - and indeed our own - is comic, revealing and profoundly unsettling. This extremely powerful film chronicles, through a mix of archival footag and insightful talking-head accounts, the entirety of Nim's extraordinary life. 98% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Sorcerer and the White Snake - Based on a Chinese fantasy, the dual plot centres on a forbidden inter-realm romance between a young herbalist and a snake demon able to take the human form of beautiful woman and a sorcerer (Jet Li) devoted to ridding the human realm of such demons. Their lives cross during the course of this fast-paced, action-packed adventure. First thing you will realise is that this film is shiny. Some of the visual effects are quite impressive (while others are not), but the ridiculous and problematic plot still feels that way even if you suspend all rational thought about the world. Will be eye-opening for youngsters and special f/x junkies, but will have little appeal elsewhere.
The Whistleblower - This ripped-from-the-headlines thriller is inspired by actual events. Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) is a Nebraskan police officer who takes a job working as a UN peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia. Her expectations of helping to rebuild a devastated country are dashed when she uncovers a dangerous reality of corruption and cover-up amidst a world of private contractors and multinational diplomatics. She investigates a female sex trafficking syndicate and collects evidence against her superiors, but meets opposition at every turn and threatens her life and career in the process. Weisz is great, but the film is ugly and unsettling, awkwardly structured and a little heavy-handed with the melodrama. Still, the impact of the story is enough to give this a recommendation too.
Weekly Recommendation: Definitely Project Nim, but The Whistleblower is worth watching too. I am really looking forward to Crazy, Stupid, Love so if the others sound a bit heavy, perhaps this will be more your speed. Whatever you decide, there are some strong options this weekend.