In cinemas this week: Killing Them Softly, Lawless, Shadow Dancer, The Words and Wuthering Heights.
Killing Them Softly - Two hapless criminals in search of a quick buck, Frankie (Scott McNairy, Monsters) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn, Animal Kingdom), are brought in by Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola, The Sopranos), an in-and-out of prison wannabe big shot, who has hatched a plan to rob a mob protected poker game. Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta, Narc), in charge of the games, has ripped off them off before and Amato figures the criminal world will assume it's him. Following the robbery, which cripples the local criminal economy, just like the Wall Street CEOs cripple the nation's, a street-smart enforcer named Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt, Moneyball) is hired to investigate the heist and eliminate those responsible.
Lawless is the true story of the infamous Bondurant Brothers: bootlegging siblings who made a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia. In this epic gangster tale, inspired by true-life tales of author Matt Bondurant's family in his novel "The Wettest County in the World", the loyalty of three brothers is put to the test against the backdrop of the nation's most notorious crime wave.
The Words - Starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde and Zoë Saldana, the layered romantic drama The Words follows young writer Rory Jansen who finally achieves long sought after literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There's only one catch - he didn't write it. As the past comes back to haunt him and his literary star continues to rise, Jansen is forced to confront the steep price that must be paid for stealing another man's work, and for placing ambition and success above life's most fundamental three words.
Shadow Dancer - During an aborted bomb attempt in London, Collette falls into the hands of an MI5 officer, Mac, who offers her a deal: turn informant or go to prison. Fearing for her son's welfare, she returns to Belfast where betraying family and beliefs she becomes a reluctant mole for British intelligence. As suspicion of Collette mounts and Mac takes increasing risks to protect her, both feel the net closing in.
Wuthering Heights - Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights is a fresh and distinct take on the classic novel by Emily Brontë. An epic love story that spans childhood well into the young adult years, the film follows Heathcliff, a boy taken in by a benevolent Yorkshire farmer, Earnshaw. Living in Earnshaw's home, Heathcliff develops a passionate relationship with the farmer's teenage daughter, Catherine, inspiring the envy and mistrust of his son, Hindley. When Earnshaw passes away, the now-grown characters must finally confront the intense feelings and rivalries that have built up throughout their years together.
Weekly Recommendation: Killing Them Softly is the best in this week's diverse and divisive line-up. I have strong feelings of dislike for Wuthering Heights, and Lawless was very disappointing. Review up in the morning. Shadow Dancer is soid, but it has a very limited release. Killing Them Softly is a stylish gun-toting crime noir with great performances, sharp dialogue, bloody violence, and a relevant political and economic subtext. An outstanding follow-up to 2007's The Assassination of Jesse James from director Andrew Dominik.