The Week in Film: Aboriginal Soul edition


In Theaters

(The Weinstein Company)

Based on a true story, The Sapphires tells of four young Aboriginal Australian women who head to Vietnam in 1968 to entertain the U.S. troops.  At home, the ladies contend with racist countrymen who don’t consider them to be human, but through music the quartet find the joy they need to persevere.  Chris O’Dowd plays their hilarious (and obviously white) manager, who schools them in the way of soul jams and stage presence.  With plenty of memorable tunes and a wealth of laughs and heart, it’s high quality entertainment that should appeal to the masses.  Look for my review on Friday.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
(IFC Films)

Pakistan-born Changez (Riz Ahmed, Four Lions) was living the American Dream in New York…that is until 9/11 happened and everyone suddenly looked at him as a threat.  After that fateful day, his life took a dramatic turn, one that journalist Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber) wants to put in print.  Thus is the set-up for The Reluctant Fundamentalist, the new thriller from Mira Nair (The Namesake; Monsoon Wedding), based on the novel by Mohsin Hamid and also starring Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, and Martin Donovan.  Look for my review on Friday.

What Maisie Knew
(Millennium Entertainment)

From Scott McGehee and David Siegel, the directorial team behind Bee Season, comes a modern telling of Henry James’ novel What Maisie Knew.  Steve Coogan (in a rare dramatic turn) and Julianne Moore play a couple going through an especially messy divorce with Onata Aprile as their eponymous daughter caught in the middle.  Joanna Vanderham and Alexander Skarsgard play the exes’ respective new boos.  Look for my review on Friday.

The Purge
(Universal Pictures)

In the future laid out in The Purge, the U.S. is in a state of bliss due largely to the annual titular release, during which any crime is legal for a 12-hour period.  Ethan Hawke heads a family who, like many wealthy citizens, secure themselves inside their home and let the violence play out.  That all changes when his son (Parenthood‘s Max Burkholder) takes pity on a pleading outsider and lets him in, only to have a group targeting the man descend upon the house demanding his release.  James DeMonaco’s film could either be disturbing fun or disturbingly bad.  I’ll find out and let you know.

The Internship
(Twentieth Century Fox)

Nearly a decade has passed since Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn last worked together on Wedding Crashers, but doesn’t it seem longer than that?  Either way, the two will attempt to revive their chemistry in The Internship, playing a pair of former salesmen who somehow get an internship at Google, where they must compete with younger, more tech-saavy smarties for a potential job.  Written by Vaughn and Jared Stern (whose major cinematic accomplishment is a tie between The Watch and Mr. Popper’s Penguins) and directed by Shawn Levy, who guided Wilson to…well, not greatness, but something else in the Night at the Museum movies, the outlook looks fairly bleak.  Supporting turns by Rose Byrne, Max Minghella, and John Goodman help, but may not be enough.

Fleeing the Scene

Not a damn thing is gone…unless you count the 3D version of Epic, in which case you’d better get yourself to an 11AM show, pronto.


Hello, mediocre-to-awful February releases!  Roll call: Warm BodiesA Good Day to Die HardIdentity Thief, and Escape From Planet Earth.

On Netflix Instant

Another new month, another slew of new offerings.  For June, that means a Francis Ford Coppola extravaganza!  Apocalypse NowApocalypse Now ReduxOne From the HeartThe Rainmakerand Tetro all splash down at once.  For a giant evening of fun, pair one of the Apocalypse Now versions with Oliver Stone’s Platoon.

Joining them in the dramas are the Robert Redford prison story Brubaker and Valley of the Dolls (not the Ebert-penned sequel).

Representing the thriller set are the quality De Niro/Norton/Brando caper The Score and Snake Plissken’s second act, Escape from L.A.

On the comedy front, there’s Canadian Bacon, the original “Blame Canada” flick; the underrated Mystery Men; Steve Martin’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid; the Kevin Kline “is he or isn’t he?” film In & Out; and the Broken Lizard Troup’s Super Troopers.

Indies on the scene include 2010’s Last Night, starring Keira Knightly and Sam Worthington; last year’s under-distributed The Details, which, considering its anonymity despite an all-star cast (including Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, and Laura Linney), is all but guaranteed to be awful; and Billy Bob Thornton’s Daddy & Them, which was all the rage in pre-production during his height of fame, then all but vanished.  How?  I don’t know, especially when the supporting cast includes Ben Affleck, Jim Varney, Andy Griffith and John Prine!

Documentary-wise, we have the global warming argument Chasing Ice and the baseball pitcher-focused Knuckleball!

Horror fans may rejoice as parts 3-8 of the Friday the 13th saga become available.

In the “before they were remade” sector are the original Planet of the Apes, The Longest Yard, and Bedazzled.

Representing the family-friendly set is the immortal Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves.

And in the vintage Matthew Broderick category, there’s Out on a Limb and Project X, the latter of which may or may not be about the recent Commission-approved mystery company headed to Buncombe County in the near future.