2012.2.10 NOW Playing

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2012.2.10 NOW Playing

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Nameless Gangster (18)

Crime, Drama / 133 / Korean

“Nameless Gangster” has already attracted attention, even before the movie begins screening, due to its star-studded cast. Choi Min-sik, who is best known for his role in the hit mystery-thriller “Old Boy” (2003), and Ha Jung-woo, who is also well known from his role in courtroom drama “The Client” (2011), top the list of stars that are sure to fill theaters. The film is set in the 1980s and ’90s in Busan when corruption and crime was so rampant that the government declared war on it in 1990.

Choi Ik-hyeon (Choi) is a customs officer who is laid off after being charged with corruption. Weighed down by the anxiety of his dismissal, Choi exposes methamphetamine at a warehouse and decides to smuggle it through Choi Hyeong-bae (Ha), a well-known gangster in Busan. After the deal goes through, Ik-hyeon starts doing business with Hyeong-bae. The combination of Ik-hyeon, who is an outstanding lobbyist, and Hyeong-bae, a powerful figure in his gang, is perfect for business. They expand quickly.

However, trust in each other starts to wane after the government declares a war on crime, and betrayal becomes necessary to survive.

Since the film was released on Feb. 2, it has recorded the largest share of the film market - 30 to 40 percent - and also reached one million viewers just four days after its premier.

Dancing Queen (12)

Comedy, Drama / 124 / Korean

Singer-actress Um Jung-hwa and actor Hwang Jung-min burned up the screen in the 2005 hit “All for Love,” with Um playing a stuck-up divorced doctor and Hwang playing a foul-mouthed detective.

The chemistry between the two boosted ticket sales back then, and the duo have returned for another round.

“Dancing Queen” tells the story of Um Jung-hwa, who shares the name of the actress who plays her.

In the film, Um is a girl who dreamed about becoming a singer when she was young but had to put her dream aside when she married Hwang Jung-min, who also uses his real name. Although Hwang is a lawyer, he is always worrying about paying the rent.

One day, Hwang rescues a man who falls off of a subway platform and becomes an instant hero. His heroic act even pushes him into the political arena and he decides to run for Seoul mayor. Things go along just fine until Um receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the form of a proposal from an entertainment agency and she is forced to choose between her dream and his. It’s not long before she realizes that she can’t give up her dream and she decides to pursue both.

The Artist (12)

Comedy, Drama / 100 / Silent

Everybody is raving about “The Artist.” It was awarded five stars by The Guardian, has received multiple Oscar nominations and has won the top prize at film festivals all over the wold.

Starring Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, along with Hollywood stalwarts James Cromwell and John Goodman, “The Artist” follows the life of silent movie star George Valentin, and his little dog Uggie. The two are about to enter the age of the talkie and George is understandably nervous at the prospect of his livelihood being taken away. Enter Peppy Miller, a dancer who conversely is set to hit the big time. The film follows these two as they live through the early days of the talkies.

The Golden Globes, thought to be a dry run for the Oscars, granted the movie three awards and has left many people confident that the Oscar for best picture is all but in the bag.

The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw said “Everything about ‘The Artist’ comes as close to perfection as I have ever seen,” and The New York Times called it “an irresistible reminder of nearly everything that makes the movies great.”

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (3-D) (12)

Action, Sci-fi / 131 / English

George Lucas gets to do what few other movie directors could get away with - rereleasing a movie 13 years after its premier. Ironically, this temporal dislocation alone might render “The Phantom Menace” more enjoyable than it was during its first run. What film wouldn’t have buckled beneath the hype of the entire Star Wars franchise, as this one did in 1999?

Or beneath the responsibility, as Episode I needed to set up plots and characters for five following sequels and prequels without crowding out its own identity in the process.

The movie’s CGI, which was exceptional for 1999, is now looking smudgy and dated. The film is ostensibly in 3-D, although the only time where Industrial Light & Magic’s conversion truly impresses is during the pod-racer scene.

So follow Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman as they battle a Sith lord, win a race and lift a trade blockade. Or something.

It’s a little hard to tell why they’re doing these things, much less why we should care.

The Grey (18)

Action, Sci-fi / 131 / English

Liam Neeson takes on yet another action-hero role in this survival-adventure film directed by Joe Carnahan (“The A-Team,” “Smokin’ Aces”). “The Grey,” in which Neeson plays John Ottway, an oil-driller and wolf-slayer who ends up stranded in Alaska with a team of seven, is a story of survival as the men fight off a pack of wolves that is constantly stalking them. It is a fight to the death, in the literal sense, as Ottway and crew battle the bitter cold, hunger and the bloodthirsty beasts. “The Grey” features a Liam Neeson not unlike one we have seen before: he is steely, determined and tough, but with a softer, emotional edge that audiences see glimpses of throughout the movie. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the film is its philosophical side; morality, human perseverance, death and love are all recurring themes that Ottway and his men must come to terms with in the unforgiving terrains of the American Northwest.

“The Grey” raked in $20 million on its opening weekend in the United States, securing the No. 1 spot on the box office chart. Great work for a film shot in just 40 days and distributed by indie movie company Open Road that launched less than a year ago.

Mr. Nice (18)

Comedy, Drama / 121 / English

Howard Marks was once the most wanted man in Britain. He was at one time or another involved with the IRA, the DEA, Customs and Excise, the Police, MI6 and the Mafia. Rhys Ifans plays Marks and got the part after a chance meeting some years ago. Educated at Oxford University, Marks got involved in drug smuggling through a friend and, not surprisingly, found it to be profitable.

Things escalated and Marks, among many others, finds himself importing huge quantities of hashish from Pakistan in the 1970s and being courted by the MI6.

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