Monday, March 4, 2013

New Releases (07/03/13)

In what is not a particularly interesting week of films, we have six films hitting cinemas this Thursday - Oz: The Great and Powerful, 21 and Over, Broken City, Barbara, Great Expectations and Blinder. Barbara, which won a Silver Bear at last year's Berlin Film Festival, has been well received, while I quite enjoyed Sam Raimi's prequel to The Wizard of Oz. The rest remain unseen.

Oz: The Great and Powerful - Disney's fantastical adventure, directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum's beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he's hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking-that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone's been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity-and even a bit of wizardry-Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well.
Barbara - Winner of the Best Director prize at this year's Berlin Film Festival, the latest film from Christian Petzold is a simmering, impeccably crafted Cold War thriller, starring the gifted Nina Hoss - in her fifth lead role for the director - as a Berlin doctor banished to a rural East German hospital as punishment for applying for an exit visa. As her lover from the West carefully plots her escape, Barbara waits patiently and avoids friendships with her colleagues, except for Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld) the hospital's head physician, who is warmly attentive to her. But even as she finds herself falling for him, Barbara still cannot be sure that Andre is not a spy. A film of glancing moments and dangerous secrets, BARBARA paints a haunting picture of a woman being slowly crushed between the irreconcilable needs of desire and survival. Germany's official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film.

21 and Over - Straight-A college student Jeff Chang has always done what he was supposed to do. But when his two best friends Casey and Miller surprise him with a visit for his 21st birthday, Jeff Chang decides to do everything he wants to do for a change, even though his important medical school interview is early the next morning. What was supposed to be one beer becomes a night of humiliation, over indulgence and utter debauchery in this coming-of-drinking-age-comedy, from the writers of THE HANGOVER, about living youth to its fullest.

Broken City - In a broken city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure, the mayor (Russell Crowe). Billy's relentless pursuit of justice, matched only by his streetwise toughness, makes him an unstoppable force and the mayor's worst nightmare.

Great Expectations - British film adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic novel of the same name. Directed by Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), it stars Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter, Holliday Grainger, Ralph Fiennes and Robbie Coltrane. A humble orphan suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor.

Blinder - There's nothing more tightly-knit than a small town footy club. So when a scandal blows apart the Torquay Tigers, lives are thrown into chaos. After ten years away, one-time Torquay legend Tom Dunn (Oliver Ackland) returns to face his demons and pull the club back together. Directed by Richard Gray (Summer Coda, Mine Games).

Weekly Recommendation: I don't think you'll miss any essential viewing if you take a week off from the cinema, but I think Oz is certainly worth a look. The 3D visuals are stunning, and along with some good humour, strong performances and clever ties into the '39 classic, it is genuinely good family fun. Also currently out - and unmissable - are Cloud Atlas and The Imposter. 

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