2013.9.13 Now playing
Animation, Drama / 126 / Japanese
Reportedly the last film by famed animator Hayao Miyazaki, “The Wind Rises” is based on the true story of Jiro Horikoshi, the aeronautics engineer who designed the famed Japanese plane Mitsubishi A6M Zero.
Yet “The Wind Rises” is more than just about the history of a famous plane; it is also a love story between Jiro and Naoko, a delicate girl who Jiro meets on a train one day and falls in love with.
Of course, being a Miyazaki film, this movie is also full of spectacular animation and flights of fancy, including dream sequences of Jiro flying with fantastic flying machines.
All the while, the Japanese war machine continues to be built. Unfortunately, Miyazaki never really confronts this part of Japanese history; but for his fans, “The Wind Rises” is a splendid example of the master’s craft.
Cold War (15 )
Action, Crime / 102 / Chinese
Writer-directors Longman Leung and Sunny Luk have created an upscale police thriller starring award-winning actor Tony Leung Ka-fai and popular Hong Kong singer and film actor Aaron Kwok Fu-shing.
One night, a Hong Kong police van carrying the force’s most advanced equipment and five highly trained officers is hijacked and disappears. The hijackers leave an anonymous call implying that they have inside knowledge about the police force, quickly drawing the attention of the police’s top brass.
But with the police commissioner (Michael Wong in a cameo) out of town, deputy commissioner of police operations M.B. Lee (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) is in charge, and Lee, as the father of one of the missing cops, is emotionally compromised. An attempted rescue mission soon leads to a huge leadership crisis, as Lee and other top police struggle for control of the force.
The action-packed crime drama triumphed at the Hong Kong Film Awards in April, winning in nine categories, including best film, best director and best actor.
Action / 91 / English
Two veterans of the Bosnian War, one American and one Serbian, clash in the Appalachian Mountains. A former American soldier, Benjamin Ford (played by Robert De Niro) escaped into the woods because of guilt from the war. There, he bumps into Emil Kovac (played by John Travolta), a former Serbian soldier who is posing as a tourist, but who is really seeking revenge against Ford.
The film depicts the psychological wounds caused by war and the contrast between guilt and anger.
Despite the star power brought by De Niro and Travolta, “Killing Season” tanked in the United States and earned generally poor reviews. But who knows? Perhaps it can find new life in international markets like Korea.
The Bling Ring (19 )
Drama / 95 / English
Living in suburbia can get boring. The same mundane routine where everything is just above average is almost maddening - until you add a bit of crime into the mix. Based on true events (loosely based, of course), “The Bling Ring” follows several party-going teenagers as they rummage and raid the houses of Hollywood’s best-known celebrities like Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan.
In one of the most famous cases depicted in the film, the teens sneak into Paris Hilton’s mansion while the heiress is hosting a party in Las Vegas and proceed to shower themselves with her clothes, jewelry and cash. The Tinseltown thieves - Rebecca (Katie Chang), Marc (Israel Broussard), Nicki (Emma Watson) and Chloe (Claire Julien) - are not exactly burglary masterminds. Through a few clicks around the Internet, the teens quickly discover when the celebrities are away and where they live.
Director Sofia Coppola, famed for her films “The Virgin Suicides” (1999) and “Lost in Translation” (2003), depicts the vanity and audacity of the less-than-remorseful teenage gang. Not only do they want what they can’t have, but also they can’t seem to understand why.
Now You See Me (12 )
Thriller, Action / 115 / English
Directed by Louis Leterrier of “Clash of the Titans” (2010) fame, this sleight-of-hand thriller boasts an impressive ensemble cast, including Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine.
“Now You See Me” is the story about four talented magicians (played by Harrelson, Fisher, Franco and Eisenberg) who are mysteriously invited to an apartment in New York City, where they find a strange message in the form of a fantastic hologram.
A year later, the magicians have become one of the most popular acts in Las Vegas, calling themselves the “Four Horsemen.” But at one show, their magic trick apparently involves an amazing, international bank heist, stealing money from a Paris bank and then showering the Vegas audience with the cash.
At this point, FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) gets involved, teaming up with Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) to stop the unusual thieves.
But more than just thieves, the Four Horsemen and their benefactor have reasons for their very unusual magic act.
Comedy, Action / 121 / Korean
In a Korean take on the Hollywood film “True Lies” (which in turn was a remake from a French movie), Sol Kyung-gu plays a deadly agent, Chul-su, who has kept his dangerous job a secret from his flight attendant wife, Young-hee (Moon So-ri), for years.
But when Chul-su suddenly takes off on a secret mission to Thailand at the same time Young-hee had scheduled a visit to the fertility clinic, his wife erupts in anger. Coincidentally, however, Young-hee also chooses Thailand as her destination to let off a little steam.
While enjoying a few days in Bangkok, Young-hee meets a mysterious stranger, played by Daniel Henney, who takes a serious interest in her. Chul-su sees this happening, but he cannot reveal himself because of his job and is forced to watch the handsome man flirting with his wife.
But as the stranger keeps bumping into Young-hee, Chul-su begins to realize there is more going on than meets the eye. As Chul-su tries to discover the truth without being identified, the farcical comedy quickly ratchets up.
Elysium (19 )
Action / 109 / English
The second feature film from Neill Blomkamp, the man who brought us the politically charged sci-fi hit “District 9,” this movie was tipped to be one of the biggest hits of summer.
The film portrays a grim future, where the rich have deserted the planet, starting afresh on the massive orbiting satellite the Elysium, a habitat just a shuttle ride away from Earth. It is the plight of those left behind to slave away, loot and eventually die from illness while those orbiting above live the high life.
Matt Damon plays Max, one of the lowly have-nots stuck on Earth. But after he comes down with a terminal case of cancer, Max is determined to make it to Elysium, where they have the technology to cure him. The film also stars Jodie Foster playing a cold-hearted government official, very similar to the eccentric villain played by Tilda Swinton in the Korean hit film “Snowpiercer.”
The two films, both released over the summer, drew a lot of comparisons from critics as they both grapple with the notion of class in a futuristic world.
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