2012.3.9 NOW Playing

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2012.3.9 NOW Playing


Love Fiction (15)

Romance, Drama, Comedy / 121 / Korean

Gu Ju-wol (Ha Jeong-woo) is an obscure novelist who is looking for a muse. While attending a film festival, he finds what he is looking for in movie distributor Lee Hee-jin (Kong Hyo-jin), and he is instantly infatuated. As their relationship develops, Ju-wol is even inspired to begin work on a new novel, but it’s not long before he becomes overwhelmed by Hee-jin’s past loves and unconventional habits, including the fact that she lets her armpit hair grow instead of shaving. As their arguments become more frequent, Ju-wol falls into a state of confusion.

The film is unique in that it unfolds from Ju-wol’s perspective and highlights the challenges in romantic relationships, whereas most Korean films present a more positive and less nuanced picture of love.

In making Ju-wol the focus, the film shows how men beg for love and quickly lose interest in their partners once they are stuck in a relationship.

The film stars Ha of the current hit film “Nameless Gangster” and Kong of last year’s hit television drama “The Greatest Love.”

Howling (15)

Crime, Drama / 114 / Korean

When veteran detective Jo Sang-gil (Song Kang-ho) investigates the case of a man who burned to death in a car, he is reluctant to take it because its not likely to win him a promotion. But when his partner Cha Eun-young (Lee Na-young) discovers bite marks on the body, the two investigate further. As additional evidence comes to light, they discover that the victim was involved in a prostitution ring. It later becomes clear that the two detectives are a study in contrasts.

Jo is a middle-aged man whose wife left him, while Cha is a smart, young investigator who has cultivated a somewhat cold exterior to shield herself in her largely male work environment.

The two are forced together through the case, which continues to spiral out of control when another murder is committed. The new victim has bite marks similar to those found on the burned corpse, pointing to a connection between the cases. This time, the evidence leads to a retired police dog trainer who provides the missing link.


Act of Valor (15)

Action / 101 / English

Act of Valor is unique in that it stars several active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs and bases many elements of its plot on true events - commitments to authenticity that ultimately prove themselves to be both this film’s forte and failing.

An elite team of U.S. Navy SEALs must balance commitments to family, team and country as they embark on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent.

Meanwhile, a Middle Eastern terrorist plots a strike on the United States. True, the plot is cliched, but that can be forgiven during the film’s strong action scenes, when the soldiers leap out of airplanes, dodge explosions, lurk through rivers, neutralize targets under heavy fire and execute flawless tactical maneuvers - essentially acting as their own stunt doubles - in scenes that don’t necessarily outflash Hollywood but certainly give it the lie. As a compelling drama, however, it comes off flat and unsurprising - perhaps because the skill sets of acting and precision squad warfare have seldom, if ever, found themselves comfortably conjoined in any career path, much less in a person. The result is a film that is blessed with an original concept but crouches stiffly somewhere between honest documentary, sound action flick and patriotic propaganda piece.


The Vow (15)

Romance, Drama / 104 / English

Rachel McAdams returns to the film genre that her fans love her most for in this Nicholas Sparks-esque romantic drama directed by Michael Sucsy. McAdams stars alongside Channing Tatum of “Step Up” and “G.I. Joe” fame, in his second effort in the genre after “Dear John” in 2010.

The movie is based on the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, a New Mexico couple who were involved in a car accident after just 10 weeks of marriage. As a result, Krickitt suffered extreme brain trauma, erasing all memories of her husband Kim and their relationship. Newly strangers, Kim endeavors to win his beloved wife’s heart back in every way that he can.

Serious fans of the syrupy romantic drama genre will most definitely find something to shed tears over in “The Vow.” McAdams is a born natural even with the formulaic script, but moviegoers will probably continue to debate whether they like seeing Tatum more in dramatic, romantic, manly roles or in comedies as the not-so-intelligent but lovable jock type (“She’s the Man.”) Either way, McAdams and Tatum make a good-looking couple, and fans of both will enjoy seeing them frolic lovingly together on screen.


Chronicle (15)

Drama, Sci-fi / 84 / English

Up-and-coming director Josh Trank brings us a film about three Seattle high school students who receive telepathic superpowers from an unknown glowing object. It’s all horseplay and practical jokes for the giddy teenagers until the most troubled among them begins using his new talents for darker purposes. The indifferent and sometimes distractingly clunky attentions of his camcorder documents disintegrating relationships and eventual chaos.

Utilizing the found-footage style that’s particularly voguish in a glut of low-budget indie films and playing on the tired tropes of Hollywood’s reality-challenged superhero flicks, “Chronicle” manages to transcend its gimmicky components to create a menacing sci-fi tragedy loaded with uncommon emotional ballast.

This Means War (15)

Romantic Comedy, Action / 97 / English

Romantic comedy and all-around screen veteran Reese Witherspoon stars alongside Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, two rising stars of “Star Trek” and “Inception” fame, respectively, in director McG’s boisterous rom-com action film.

Witherspoon, in her first romantic comedy in the last year, plays Lauren Scott, a product testing exec who signs up for an online dating service that matches her with CIA agent Tuck Henson (Hardy). The two hit it off immediately.

Afterwards, Tuck’s best friend and CIA partner-in-crime FDR Foster (Pine) bumps into Lauren at a video store, where they flirt and eventually agree to go on a date.

Upon discovering that they are both dating the same woman, Tuck and FDR declare war on each other, using their CIA skills to spy on Lauren and sabotage each other in the hopes that she will choose between the two.

The film flits through attempts at romantic charm along with all the gadgets and loudness that make up a rompy action flick.
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