Loosely centered on one couple’s messy divorce, Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” deftly weaves together class, religious and gender issues to create a narratively simple yet morally complex story set in contemporary Tehran.
Former mixed martial arts champion Gina Carano stars in Steven Soderbergh’s “Haywire” as an ex-marine turned contract killer whose life is on the line when her boss, also her former lover, turns on her. While the script often fails to deliver, in a world where ever-shrinking starlets no longer look capable of throwing a convincing punch, it is both refreshing and admirable to see an actress like Carano doing all her own stunts and fighting her way through such an A-list cast.
It’s that time of year again. Now that the myriad film critics associations have had their say, it’s the industry’s turn to speak. As the guilds finalize their nominee shortlists, the public turns its attention toward the televised ceremonies and infamous gold statues.
Inspired by Nick Stafford’s play of the same name, “War Horse” is a rare film capable of touching viewers of all ages, but its over-zealous appeals to pathos are often off-putting.
After six years away from the big screen, director Cameron Crowe returns with “We Bought a Zoo”, an adaptation of Benjamin Mee’s memoir of his family’s efforts to revitalize a Southern California wildlife park. Boasting a starry cast that includes Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and Thomas Haden Church, the net result is disappointingly average mainstream fare; heartwarming but not thought-provoking, emotional without poignancy.
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, the director-writer duo behind 2007’s surprise hit “Juno,” re-team for the wickedly hilarious “Young Adult”, starring Charlize Theron as a prodigal Midwesterner who returns to her hometown from Minnesota’s Little Apple determined to win back her high school flame at any cost.
Sweden’s Tomas Alfredson makes his English-language directorial debut with “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” an adaptation of John le Carré’s popular British spy-novel featuring an all-star cast including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Tom Hardy. Fresh off of wrapping production on “The Dark Knight Rises,” Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his celebrated Batman trilogy, Gary Oldman recently joined Alfredson in San Francisco to talk about careers, homoeroticism and why contemporary audiences will still enjoy their Cold War-set story.
In a February article that appeared in GQ ominously titled “The Day the Movies Died,” eminent film-writer Mark Harris dubbed 2011 the year of sequels, prequels, reboots, adaptations and endless permutations of the above. Not that any of these are inherently problematic, but when studios repeatedly churn them out instead of coming up with something new to show us, well, it’s frustrating to say the least. Despite Mr. Harris’ dismal movie forecast, 2011 had its share of standouts, with even a few more still to come.