2011.9.30 NOW PLAYING

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2011.9.30 NOW PLAYING

Countdown (18)


Action, Drama / 119 / Korean

“Countdown” follows two shadowy characters in an all-out, life or death, race against the clock.

Tae Gun-ho (Jung Jae-young) is a ruthless debt collector with a perfect record. But karma catches up with him when he learns he has liver cancer and must have a transplant within 10 days. Lacking a suitable donor, and running out of time, Tae takes matters in his own hands and tracks down the one person who may be able to save him - the beautiful con artist Cha Ha-yeon (Jeon Do-youn). Years ago Cha was the recipient of another donated organ - a heart from Tae’s son.

Now, she is in jail but soon to be released. Cha accepts Tae’s request, but asks for something in return. She wants Tae to track down Jo Myeong-seok (Lee Kyeong-yeong), the man who put her in jail, so she can settle the score. Tae faces off with Cha’s enemies as he tries to fulfill his end of the bargain and when he does he goes back to Cha so she can make good on hers, only she gives him the slip. Not to be defeated so easily, Tae sets off on a race against time to keep Cha, and her liver, safe until the transplant deadline.

Jeon, the first Korean to be named best actresss at Cannes for her performance in “Secret Sunshine” (2007), has received critical acclaim for her dramatic roles and it is nice to see her comedic turn as a con artist. Jung, who won a Blue Dragon Award for his role in the film “Moss” (2010), is considered one of the most versatile actors in Korea. The two previously worked together in “No Blood, No Tears” (2002).

“Countdown” was directed by Huh Jong-ho, who was also the assistant director of the 2007 film “Meet Mr. Daddy.” He previously directed a short independent film, but “Countdown” represents his feature film debut. The film premiered earlier this month at the Toronto Film Festival.

Life in a Day (12)


Documentary, Drama / 95 / English

On July 24, 2010, the first Saturday after the World Cup’s start, 4,500 hours of footage was submitted from 140 different nations to YouTube with one common goal: to capture life in a day.

After narrowing the clips down to a 96-minute documentary, two award-winning filmmakers Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland”) and Ridley Scott (“Blade Runner,” “Black Hawk Down” and “American Gangster”) teamed up to compile a moving collection of real-life moments from every corner of the planet.

What began as a filmmaking experiment has turned into a National Geographic production hitting theaters around the globe. The power of the Internet to share such diversity of experience is astonishing. While snippets may leave viewers wishing there was more depth, this project reveals raw footage of humanity in 2010.

Apollo 18 (15)


Horror, Sci-fi / 86 / English

Setting a film on the moon is a challenge that only the most adept film crews can pull off successfully. The limited space, where all the scenery looks the same and characters are contained in space vehicles, leaves almost no room for plot complexities. But apparently, whoever decided to green light “Apollo 18,” a horror movie based on a fictional NASA trip to the moon, did not get the message.

The “mockumentary” purports to use recently uncovered footage of a top-secret American mission to the moon that took place in 1974, two years after the moon space program officially ended. The astronauts in the film are told that their goal is to place spy equipment on the moon but, once they arrive, they quickly discover that their commanders have lied to them.

Nathan Walker (Lloyd Owen) and Benjamin Anderson (Warren Christie) are attacked by aliens that - wait for it - look like moon rocks and sprout spider legs. All three astronauts die before the end of the film.

The story line quickly becomes boring and, without anywhere for the plot to escape, the ending cannot come soon enough.

The release of this film was delayed five times - for obvious reasons. At least now we can get it over with and move on.

Abduction (15)


Action, Mystery / 105 / English

When Nathan (Taylor Launter), who has always felt distanced from his parents, discovers that he was kidnapped as a child, he begins to uncover a vast conspiracy and must go on the run in order to survive.

The trailer opens with Nathan’s “dad” helping him with his martial arts skills, but they are stopped by “mom,” who tells them that it looks like they are trying to kill each other. Oh mom.

Those martial arts skills are going to come in very handy later on, though.

Alfred Molina (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”) delivers perhaps the best line of the movie when he tells Nathan “they weren’t your real parents,” which comes off a tad dismissive when our hero has just asked who killed them.

This angers young Nathan (or whatever his name is). Then, right on cue, all hell breaks loose.

Automatic weapons, glass flying everywhere, helicopters, obligatory shots of computer screens showing little dots bleeping, car chases, fights on trains (an homage to Bond perhaps?) and general mayhem - with an attractive woman thrown in for good measure.

At the start of the movie, there are only four people who know “Nathan’s” real identity, but after his parents get wasted by gun-toting assassins, only two remain.

The tension builds as we ask ourselves: will Sigourney Weaver (“Ghostbusters”) and Molina, presumably the other two who know Nathan’s real identity, survive long enough to tell him his real name? Will he find out where his real parents are? And will they run, in slow motion, into each others arms and live happily ever after?

This is a dirty martini of a film. It’s one measure of “Kickboxer,” two measures of Jason Bourne, a measure of vodka and a dash of Bond. Shake (not stir) that up and you get yourself a run-of-the-mill action-film martini.

Maybe it would better to get an actual dirty martini (dirty on the side) and watch some Bond or Bourne.

The Crucible (18)

Drama / 125 / Korean

Based on the novel of the same name written by star author Gong Ji-young, “The Crucible” follows a group of children with disabilities who suffer physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their teachers.

The film begins as Gang In-ho (Gong Yoo), who is working to earn money for his daughter’s surgery, is appointed to a school for hearing-impaired children in Gwangju. But what he discovers there is an ugly truth: the children are being physically and sexually abused by their teachers. When he decides to fight for the children’s rights and expose the crimes being committed at the school, In-ho teams up with human rights activist Seo Yu-jin (Jung Yu-mi).
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