The Week in Film: Operation Presidential Rescue edition (Part 2)


In Theaters

White House Down
(Columbia Pictures)

2013 was supposed to be the year of the Presidential home invasion, but after Olympus Has Fallen lived up to its title and fell hard on its face, the trend imploded.  Now, all White House Down has to do to win the battle is not have Maggie Gyllenhaal dragged down a hallway, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  Roland Emmerich’s film stars Channing Tatum as a military veteran whose Secret Service interview is soon followed by an attack, leaving him to rescue the President (Jamie Foxx).  The two then team up (Django-style?) and go after the baddies themselves.  The supporting cast (Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins, Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jason Clarke, The Wire‘s Lance Reddick) is impressive, but so was Olympus‘ and look where that got them.  Emmerich has destroyed the famous residence before, most notably in Independence Day, and the trailer indicates some promising intentional comedy, so we’ll see if the old master of disaster still has “it.”

In the House
(Cohen Media Group)

François Ozon’s Swimming Pool was critically adored upon its 2003 release…and continues to gather digital cobwebs in my Netflix Instant queue.  Will his latest film inspire me to at last rectify this blind spot?  Based on Juan Mayorga’s play, In the House concerns a teenager who becomes a fixture in his classmate’s house and writes about his experiences for school assignments.  These scandalous insights and the resulting mentor relationship with his impressed teacher lead to disastrous results as the lines between fact and fiction are blurred.  Look for my review on Friday.

Love Is All You Need
(Sony Pictures Classics)

As people tend to say at a time like this, Susanne Bier is about to have a moment.  Perhaps best known for 2004’s Brothers (successfully Americanized by Jim Sheridan in 2009), WNC filmgoers are sure to know the Danish filmmaker well once her adaptation of Ron Rash’s Serena hits theaters this fall.  For now, viewers can enjoy an appetizer with Love Is All You Need, starring Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm as in-laws-to-be who travel together from Copenhagen to Italy for their respective children’s nuptials.  There, numerous conflicts arise alongside the potential for new romance.  Overall, it looks like The Big Wedding, except not stupid as hell.  Look for my review on Friday.

The Heat
(Twentieth Century Fox)

Paul Feig looks to capitalize on the success of his mega hit Bridesmaids with The Heat, in which Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy play odd couple law enforcement agents forced to work together.  Written by regular Parks and Recreation scribe Katie Dippold, if the red band trailers are any indication, this is foul-mouthed comedy at its…um…foulest.  The supporting cast of recent Oscar nominee Demián Bichir (A Better Life), Jane Curtin, and Michael Rapaport is encouraging, but the make-or-break factor will be whether McCarthy’s brash ad-libbing will be reined in or free range.  Considering Identity Thief‘s $135 million gross, the public seems primed to revolt if it’s not the latter, so buckle your seat belts.

The East
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

The filmmaking team of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij continue their fascination with cults and those who infiltrate them in The East.  A year after her turn as a time-traveling leader in The Sound of My Voice, Marling plays Sarah, an undercover operative tasked with worming her way into the titular anarchist group.  Led by Benji (Alexander Skarsgård) and comprised of fellow idealists like Ellen Page’s Izzy, the group plans and executes elaborate “jams” on wealthy corporations whose remorseless greed has harmed or killed various innocents.  Far too similar to their previous effort, the film’s documentary concepts suffer in narrative form and are further hampered by Marling’s rampant wispiness.  Look for my review on Friday.

Fleeing the Scene

Everything hangs around except Frances Ha, which did about as well as a b&w indie could.


Underrated Thriller Week is in full effect with the Ed Harris submariner Phantom and the Halle Berry abduction stunner The Call.  In the wake of Oz the Great and Powerful is the similarly misleading The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.  And the week’s unknown is the sci-fi romance Upside Down, starring Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess as lovers on twin/opposite planets, which theatrically earned back only $8.1 million of its $60 million budget.

On Netflix Instant

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? leads the way along with heavy hitter The Avengers, the superb classical music drama A Late Quartet, the Werner Herzog documentary Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, and the John Hodgman stand-up special RAGNAROK.  For the kiddies, there are ’90s Disney favorites Mulan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, plus their respective sequels.  Elsewhere, the Rand party rolls on with Atlas Shrugged: Part II, Tommy Lee Jones is the Man of the House, Katy Perry stars as Katy Perry in the concert film Part of Me, and 26 horror directors each tackle a letter of the alphabet in the anthology The ABCs of Death.