New Releases for the Week of June 5, 2015


Insidious Chapter IIIINSIDIOUS CHAPTER III

(Gramercy) Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Lin Shaye, Tate Berney, Michael Reid MacKay, Steve Coulter. Directed by Leigh Whannell

The third installment in the popular horror series is a prequel, focusing on psychic Elise Rainier and her reluctant entry into the spirit world in order to help a family and in particular an innocent teen girl in grave mortal peril from angry spirits from the other side, detailing her first steps into the otherworld known as The Further.

See the trailer, clips, interviews, a featurette and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard (opens Thursday)
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG-13 (for violence, frightening images, some language and thematic elements)

Barely Lethal

(A24) Hailee Steinfeld, Sophie Turner, Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Alba. A young girl trained from childhood to be a deadly assassin has already tired of the life and yearns for a more normal adolescence. Determined to leave the life she never asked for, she fakes her own death and enrolls in a suburban high school. Her ex-handler and current nemesis discovers the ruse and sends an operative in to fetch her, which as you can guess the young lady in question isn’t planning to allow, particularly when her new friends and social circle are put in mortal danger.

See the trailer and stream the full movie from Amazon here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Spy Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Lake Square Leesburg
Rating: PG-13 (for sexual material, teen drinking, language, drug references and some action violence)

Entourage

(Warner Brothers) Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jeremy Piven.  Vincent Chase, a bona fide movie star surrounded by his friends from when he was young, is living the good life. Ari Gold, agent-turned-studio head who has a movie for his former protégé but Vincent isn’t biting – unless he can direct. The acclaimed HBO series/Hollywood satire hits the big screen in a move that is likely to skewer a few egos that need skewering.

See the trailer, interviews, a promo and fan video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard (opened Wednesday)
Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use)

Love and Mercy

(Roadside Attractions) John Cusack, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks. Brian Wilson was the genius behind the Beach Boys sound and success. One of the most gifted composers and arrangers of his time, he was beset by demons of an abusive childhood and exacerbated by drug abuse. After a complete mental breakdown, he comes under the care of psychologist Dr. Eugene Landy whose motivations and methods become suspect. Emotionally fragile, he meets a courageous woman who helps him emerge from the darkness and back into his music.

See the trailer, clips and a featurette here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Music Biography
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village, AMC Downtown Disney, Cinemark Artegon Marketplace
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements, drug content and language)

Saint Laurent

(Sony Classics) Gaspard Ulliel, Jeremie Renier, Louis Garrel, Lea Seydoux. Designer Yves Saint Laurent was one of the iconic figures in fashion during the 60s and 70s. His couture changed the idea of fashion permanently and his ideas reverberate in the industry today; his lifestyle and personal problems kept the tabloids busy. He has been the subject of several films as of late; this is the most recent and features a performance by Ulliel that has been attracting some attention.

See the trailer and clips here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Fashion Biography
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for graphic nudity/strong sexual situations, substance abuse throughout and some language)

Spy

(20th Century Fox) Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Byrne. A CIA analyst with dreams of field work gets her chance when a ruthless arms dealer threatens world peace and because they are familiar with all of the field agents in the Agency, someone who isn’t known to them must infiltrate their organization and stop a global disaster from occurring.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard (opens Thursday)
Genre: Spy Comedy
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity)

Unfreedom

(Dark Frames) Victor Banerjee, Adil Hussein, Bhanu Uday, Preeti Gupta. In New Delhi, a woman is placed in an arranged marriage that she doesn’t want to undertake because she’s in love with someone else; another woman, in fact. In New York City, a fundamentalist Muslim kidnaps a liberal Muslim scholar who has outspoken views about his religion. All four will come face to face with gruesome acts of violence that will affect their views on religion, sexual identity and family.

See the trailer and stream the full movie from Amazon here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Fashion Square Premiere Cinema
Rating: NR

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Strayed (Les Egares)


Nobody does sensual like French cinema.

Nobody does sensual like French cinema.

(Wellspring) Emmanuelle Beart, Gaspard Ulliel, Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet, Clemence Meyer, Samuel Labarthe, Jean Fornerod. Directed by Andre Techine

In times of war, ordinary people are sometimes caught up in extraordinary situations, leading them to do things they never would have considered in simpler times. When the world turns upside down, we sometimes find ourselves relying on those we might not have otherwise.

Odile (Beart) is a schoolteacher and mother who has already given a great deal to the war. Her husband was killed early on during the German invasion of France. With the Nazis knocking on the doorstep of Paris, thousands of terrified citizens flee for the countryside and what they thought was safety. Odile and her children, teenaged Philippe (Leprince-Ringuet) and young Cathy (Meyer) are driving down a refugee-choked road when German bombers suddenly, viciously drop bombs on the road and gun down survivors. The three barely escape and watch their car get annihilated. When Philippe panics and begins to run, he is hauled down by a young man with a shaven head who we later find out is named Yvan (Ulliel), saving him from the guns. Yvan leads the family into the woods.

After spending the night in the woods, a new experience for the children who up to then had lived a privileged existence, Yvan discovers a large villa in the woods. It has been abandoned by the owners but otherwise is perfectly habitable, with food stores, running water and electricity. Yvan wants to break in and stay in relative safety there; Odile, with her middle class standards, abhors the idea and urges them to find a village or someplace where they can stay. Yvan convinces her that the children need rest and a place to clean up and have a meal. He essentially winds up breaking in whether she likes it or not. Soon, they are living there as a family.

However it is a dysfunctional family. Odile is contemptuous of Yvan, thinking he is wild and uncouth. However, she recognizes that without him, they would be unable to survive as he supplies them with food when the stores left behind run out. At first she wants to hike to a nearby village but when that nearly turns into disaster, she retreats back to the villa, there to stay.

For Yvan’s part, he is attracted to the older woman in a sexual way. The other children look up to Yvan as a big brother, perhaps even a surrogate father – the latter role Yvan is all too happy to play. As the family begins to rely on Yvan more and more, Odile becomes oddly attracted to him. It’s as if she is reverting to a more primal mode, wanting to keep a provider close at hand by any means necessary.

The idyll, as complicated as it already is, becomes more so with the arrival of two French soldiers. Yvan, feeling threatened, wants to kill them so that they don’t report the squatters to the authorities. Odile is glad to have the gentle Robert (Labarthe) for company and the carefree Georges (Fornerod) as well. However, under the surfaces of each member of this drama are secrets unbeknownst to one another. When they rely on each other for their very survival, what will become of them when those secrets begin to emerge?

Beautifully photographed in the area around Castres, France, Techine brings an idyllic quality to the country home and its inhabitants. The horrors and realities of war are far away from this secluded spot. Beart is wonderful as Odile, a widow coping with the loss of her husband and increasingly vulnerable in a harsh world. When a life preserver is thrown her way, her instincts tell her to resist but inevitably she reverts to a different state of mind, one of the primal urges of women early in human history in which finding a provider was paramount, so being attractive to those providers became a survival skill. Odile doesn’t even realize that she is operating on this basis.

Ulliel, who appeared in the excellent Brotherhood of the Wolf, has a very complicated role to take on, and he handles it extremely well. Yvan has grown up on his own and lacks many social graces and even basics, such as reading and writing. He is often unsure how to act or react in the presence of a beautiful woman, and his own raging hormones begin to guide him. He is alternately cruel and kind, uncaring and helpful, angry and hurt. In other words, like most teenagers, he is going through a maelstrom of emotions, sometimes several at once.

Leprince-Ringuet is also impressive as Philippe, who is a few years younger than Yvan yet worships him as a hero. He is desperately searching for a role model now that his father is gone and he uses Philippe to fill that void, perhaps unaware of the consequences of that to his mother. When Yvan casually rejects him, he turns on Yvan as only a hurt, rejected young boy can.

The family’s struggle to find food and shelter without being detected by Nazis or by the police of the Vichy government lend an air of palpable suspense that permeates the film. While not an overt thriller, it nonetheless carries elements of that genre and integrates it nicely into the overall feel of the movie; the idyll being one that doesn’t belong to them and one they know they must pay for eventually.

The movie does move very slowly towards its climax, and is somewhat talky in places. I love good dialogue as much as the next guy, but sometimes silence and circumstance can be a far more effective tool in getting the story across.

As good as Beart is here, when she turns the corner from being suspicious of Yvan to being attracted to him, the emotional shift doesn’t feel genuine. I understand how it could happen but the writers and Beart failed to make the connection onscreen. I think the movie would have benefited had they done so.

Other than those quibbles, this is a solid movie. Lately I’ve found myself having a great deal of affection for French cinema, and while this isn’t the finest example of it out there, it is nonetheless worth seeing if you can find it (I know it is available on Netflix, which is where I found it). I urge you to watch it with a good bottle of wine to wash it down with – French cinema, like French wine, alters perception in subtle ways.

WHY RENT THIS: Masterful performances by Beart, Ulliel and Leprince-Ringuet bring the tensions of an untenable situation to life. Gorgeous cinematography of the French countryside that will gladden the soul in an otherwise bleak tale. Director Techine creates a marvelous air of tension that permeates the film.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: The sexual attraction between Odile and Yvan, while natural on his end, doesn’t make as much sense on hers. The movie can be a bit too talky in places.

FAMILY VALUES: Some terrifying wartime violence, smoking, drinking, nudity and sex between a teenaged boy and an adult woman. This is definitely for adult audiences.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: This is based on the novel “Le Garçon aux Yeux Gris” by French novelist Gilles Perreault.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: None listed.

FINAL RATING: 6/10

TOMORROW: Nobel Son