Film Friday: Blue Ruin, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Railway Man and more

A quick scan of new releases in theatres this week

Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier) is an all-American revenge story that explores the consequences of getting caught in the tit-for-tat algebra of retribution. Macon Blair stars as Dwight, introduced as a scruffy itinerant living out of his beat-up blue car. Careful to parcel out information, Saulnier reveals that a criminal recently released from prison killed someone close to Dwight. When he returns to his Virginia hometown, his payback plan is instantly complicated when friends and family are dragged into an expanding network of murder and vengeance. 90 min.

Rating: NNNN (John Semley)

Opens Apr 25 at Carlton Cinema. See here for times.

Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch) is a tale of a vampire couple meeting up in decaying Detroit that has the texture and vibe of every Velvet Underground song ever recorded – but of course that’s also its central metaphor. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) lives like a recluse in a shabby manse, making music he swears he’ll never release Eve (Tilda Swinton) is his fashion-plate partner, just back from Tangiers. They pick up deliveries of “the good stuff” and swan around in elegant decadence until Eve’s wild-child sister (Mia Wasikowska) gets in from L.A. and fucks up their perfect ennui. It doesn’t explode the vampire genre – I’m not even sure it takes place within the genre. But it’s a deeply pleasurable film, with bone-dry wit and languid pacing that recall the Jarmusch of Mystery Train and Dead Man. The entire cast is having a ball, and Adam’s music is pretty good, too. 123 min.

Rating: NNNN (NW)

Opens Apr 25 at Varsity. See here for times.

Super Duper Alice Cooper (Reginald Harkema, Scot McFadyen, Sam Dunn) is a simulcast of this doc about musician Cooper, including a live satellite Q&A with the filmmakers and Cooper from the Hot Docs Festival. See review, page XX. 86 min.

Rating: NNN (NW)

Opens Apr 28 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, SilverCity Fairview, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.

Brick Mansions (Camille Delamarre) is a remake of the 2004 French action film District B13, which introduced the aerodynamic David Belle, a founder of parkour. Belle reprises his role: he ricochets through windows and rooftops, sustaining the impact of massive leaps and bouncing further as if the earth were his trampoline. The parkour theatrics make an exhilarating opening, but the movie soon comes to a screeching halt because it can’t seem to focus on the guy who does all the fun stuff. Instead, the late (and less agile) Paul Walker’s Damien, an undercover cop, gets Belle’s Lino to help him infiltrate a fortified ghetto and disarm a nuke. Amidst the derivative action, poor acting and Luc Besson’s atrocious screenplay lurks a heavy-handed class-conscious message. When the movie takes a swing at gentrification, it dislocates a shoulder in the process. 90 min.

Rating: NN (RS)

Opens Apr 25 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Carlton Cinema, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande – Steeles, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.

A Fighting Man (Damian Lee) is what you get when you toss every boxing movie cliché into the ring and let ‘em battle it out. Prison Break’s Dominic Purcell plays a middle-aged welder who takes on a cocky young opponent (Izaak Smith). Both need the prize money and both have a lot at stake – too much, really, for one film. Director Lee uses copious flashbacks during the fight, and the device soon becomes tiresome. But the fight sequences are competent and the actors have their moments, especially Sheila McCarthy as a wisdom-dispensing Irish ma. 89 min.

Rating: NN (GS)

Opens Apr 25 at Carlton Cinema. See here for times.

In the Blood (John Stockwell) unfortunately reaffirms what Haywire demonstrated: while MMA fighter Gina Carano is an entirely effective action hero, she struggles to deliver dialogue or inhabit a character. Here, she plays a recovering addict who must punch, kick, stab and shoot her way through an unnamed island nation when her new husband (Cam Gigandet) disappears after a zip-lining accident. Director Stockwell takes a good 45 minutes to get the plot rolling, indulging in elaborate zip-lining sequences with the same indifference to pacing or plot that undermined Into The Blue and Blue Crush. Danny Trejo and Luis Guzmán give similarly noncommittal performances in key supporting roles only Prison Break’s Amaury Nolasco seems to be making an effort, and he doesn’t have nearly enough screen time to matter. Some subtitles. 108 min.

Rating: NN (NW)

Opens Apr 25 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.

The Railway Man (Jonathan Teplitzky) tells the story of British Army officer Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), who was taken prisoner and tortured by the Japanese during WWII. The film begins years later, when the endearing yet damaged Eric meets the nurse (Nicole Kidman) who will become his wife and oversee his recovery. Their romance lasts some minutes thereafter we’re treated to fumblingly structured flashbacks and Eric’s present-tense journey east to confront – and eventually befriend – his chief torturer, a fascinating development barely explored. Firth is betrayed by his character’s paucity of depth, and it’s baffling that Kidman would want to portray a strictly utilitarian character, the tormented hero’s helpmeet, like Ingrid Bergman in Spellbound but without any personality. A stiflingly solemn, disappointing dramatization of an extraordinary story. 108 min.

Rating: NN (José Teodoro)

Opens Apr 25 at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Varsity. See here for times.

The Other Woman (Nick Cassavetes) is a strained, phoney, overlong comedy about an unlikely alliance between a spastic housewife (Leslie Mann), the slick lawyer her husband’s been romancing (Cameron Diaz), and a second, utterly superfluous, much younger mistress (Kate Upton). As the theme from Mission: Impossible, ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ and other abysmally predictable ditties carpet-bomb the soundtrack, this ostensibly adorable threesome gradually exact their revenge on the ostensibly irresistible sociopath (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who seduced and deceived each of them. As befits such a one-dimensional fiend, this serial adulterer’s eventual comeuppance is violent, total, and seemingly endless. Yet nowhere in this film do we get any indication as to how these women wound up with such an evil asshole, or what they might have to learn from their relationships with him. 109 min.

Rating: N (Jose Teodoro)

Opens Apr 25 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande – Steeles, Humber Cinemas, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Varsity, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.

The Quiet Ones (John Pogue) The Quiet Ones is a big mess of a movie and given that the horror genre thrives on simplicity, rhythm, and repetition, that’s a fast track to failure. The plot involves a crazy university professor and three sexy students who pluck a haunted teen from an asylum to prove that ghosts are merely products of troubled minds. Obviously the tests go wrong and so do most of the decisions made by the filmmakers. Despite some strong performances, this is hokey drivel played far too seriously to offer any fun. The story is needlessly confusing, the scares are tiresomely clichéd, and there’s even some horrible CGI for good measure. 98 min.

Rating: N (Phil Brown)

Opens Apr 25 at 401 & Morningside, Canada Square, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Mississauga, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.

The Metropolitan Opera: Così fan tutte Live is a live high def broadcast of Mozart’s comic opera, starring Isabel Leonard, Danielle de Niese. Subtitled. 245 min.

Opens Apr 26 at Beach Cinemas, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.

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