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Cinema Chat: 'A Most Wanted Man', 'Hercules', 'And So It Goes', 'Sing-A-Long Wizard Of Oz' And More

Jul 24, 2014

Movie Openings, Hollywood News And Cinema-Focused Conversation   

Michigan Theater Ticket Window
Credit Courtesy Photo / Michigan Theater

  Opening Downtown

In “A Most Wanted Man” a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg’s Islamic community, laying claim to his father’s ill-gotten fortune, forcing both German and US security agencies to take close interest. 

As the clock ticks down and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish the man’s true identity—oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist? Based on John le Carré‘s novel, “A Most Wanted Man” is a contemporary tale of intrigue, love, rivalry, and politics that prickles with tension right through to its last heart-stopping scene.

Jeff Labrecque of Entertainment Weekly says the film “crackles with a jigsaw-puzzle intelligence and features a superbly subtle lead performance from the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.” Also starring Robin Wright, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, and Daniel Bruhl, “A Most Wanted Man” opens Friday at the State Theatre.

Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice -- By the end, Corbijn and screenwriter Andrew Bovell have laid bare all of these unknowable men. The answers satisfy - sometimes they're even heartening.

Jeff Labrecque, Entertainment Weekly -- Crackles with a jigsaw-puzzle intelligence and features a superbly subtle lead performance from the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who single-handedly gooses the post-9/11 procedural through some of its slower patches.

Justin Chang, Variety -- Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a German intelligence operative in Anton Corbijn's steadily absorbing John le Carre adaptation.

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter -- This admirably textured thriller rooted in Eastern immigrant-laden Hamburg will prove absorbing to attentive audiences internationally who don't need everything spelled out to them ...

“The Grand Seduction” follows a small fishing village that must procure a local doctor to secure a lucrative business contract. When unlikely candidate and big city doctor Paul lands in their lap for a trial residence, the townsfolk rally together to charm him into staying. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post says, “A fish-out-of-water fable set within a fabulously scenic backdrop, against which wholesome humor and a thoroughgoing humanist streak play out and intertwine with gentle, unforced ease.” “The Grand Seduction” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

John Hartl , Seattle Times -- So intricately plotted and unlikely that it verges on the exotic, "The Grand Seduction" is nevertheless a hoot.

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post -- A fish-out-of-water fable set within a fabulously scenic backdrop, against which wholesome humor and a thoroughgoing humanist streak play out and intertwine with gentle, unforced ease.

John Semley, Globe and Mail -- By and large, the film's folksiness bucks schmaltz.

Neil Genzlinger, New York Times -- Ah, those wacky foreigners and their impossibly charming villages.

Opening at the Multiplex

“Hercules,” starring Dwayne Johnson and based on Radical Comics' Hercules by Steve Moore, is a revisionist take on the classic myth. The epic action film also stars Golden Globe Winner Ian McShane, Joseph Fiennes, and Academy Award nominee John Hurt. “Hercules” opens Friday.

With Hercules, Brett Ratner and Dwayne Johnson are out to entertain you - no more, no less. And that is just what they do.

--: Dan Jolin, Empire Magazine

Brett Ratner's take on Zeus' most ripped offspring is a bumbling, dizzy-headed chore. -- Adam Lee Davies, Little White Lies

By the beard of Zeus! Brett Ratner delivers fast, fun thrills to score a sound victory over Renny Harlin's laborious The Legend Of Hercules.

-- Jamie Graham, Total Film

[A] cheerfully ridiculous and entertaining film ... -- Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

From “La Femme Nikita” and “Léon: The Professional” to “The Fifth Element,” writer/director Luc Besson has created some of the toughest, most memorable female action heroes in cinematic history. Now, Besson directs Scarlett Johansson in “Lucy,” an action-thriller that tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic. “Lucy” opens Friday.

John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter -- Besson's script offers neither the well-drawn character dynamics nor the clear motivations of a decent comic book origin story; and as it is quickly clear that no baddie has much chance of stopping Lucy, action sequences carry little weight.

Alonso Duralde, TheWrap -- Once your heroine has become one with the universe, it's hard to get worked up over a dude with a gun, even if it's Oldboy.

Justin Chang, Variety -- Scarlett Johansson and writer-director Luc Besson make an effective duo in this agreeably goofy sci-fi thriller.

In “And So It Goes,” there are a million reasons not to like realtor Oren Little (Michael Douglas), and that’s just the way he likes it. Willfully obnoxious to anyone who might cross his path, he wants nothing more than to sell one last house and retire in peace and quiet — until his estranged son suddenly drops off a granddaughter he never knew existed and turns his life upside-down.  Little by little, Oren stubbornly learns to open his heart to his family and to life itself. “And So It Goes” opens Friday.

Inkoo Kang, TheWrap -- Douglas and Keaton conjure just enough empathy and optimism and cozy charm between them to make us believe that anything can happen at twilight.

Scott Foundas, Variety -- For all of its 93 minutes, you never feel anything significant is at stake for anyone - save for a paycheck.

Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter -- Despite the utter predictability of the plot, the picture wins you over. It starts off clumsily but grows more engaging as it continues.

Special Screenings Downtown

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker and actor James Franco, and based on the chilling novel by Cormac McCarthy, “Child of God” tells the provocative story of Lester Ballard (Scott Haze), a dispossessed, violent man attempting to exist outside the social order. Consecutively deprived of parents and housing and driven by famished loneliness, Ballard descends literally and figuratively to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation. “Child of God” plays Wednesday, July 30 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan Theater. Featuring a captured-live post-film discussion with writer/director/actor James Franco, moderated by Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers.

“Sing-A-Long: The Wizard of Oz,” a special 75th anniversary presentation with onscreen lyrics, a costume parade, goodie bags, and more, follows Dorothy and her dog Toto as they are caught in a tornado’s path and end up in the land of Oz in this beloved film based on the popular L. Frank Baum novel. Join in with Dorothy and the gang and sing along to the iconic songs, including the well-known classics, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, “We’re Off to See the Wizard”, “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead”, and more! “Sing-A-Long: The Wizard of Oz” plays Sunday, July 27 at 1:30 PM & Tuesday, July 29 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater.

“Stop Making Sense” was the first feature-length documentary effort of filmmaker Jonathan Demme about The Talking Heads, made during a three-day concert gig at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. What emerges on screen says as much about director Demme’s taste and sensitivity as it does about the group and its visionary leader David Byrne. “Stop Making Sense” plays Thursday, July 31 at 10 PM as part of the Summer Classics After Dark Series.

From Swedish master Lukas Moodysson, “We are the Best!” revolves around three girls in 1980s Stockholm who decide to form a punk band — despite not having any instruments and being told by everyone that punk is dead. Based on a graphic novel, “We are the Best!” is a paean to DIY culture and the power of rebellion. Michael Sragow of the Orange County Register says, “The movie is refreshingly sensitive to gender, but also transcends it. What unites the three clashing heroines is their resistance to conventional cliques and schoolhouse conformity.” “We Are The Best!” plays Wednesday & Thursday, July 30 & 31 at the Michigan Theater.