2014.1.17 Now Playing
Action, Thriller / 105 / English
Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), the fictional hero made famous by the American best-selling author Tom Clancy, is back and rebooted, with pumped-up and dazzling action scenes.
Ryan discovers a covert scheme planned by the Russians to destroy the U.S. economy through a terrorist attack. In order to investigate and thwart the plan, he flies to Moscow and ends up meeting a mysterious businessman named Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh).
The overall theme that penetrates Clancy’s Jack Ryan series is the constant confrontation between the United States and the USSR. Branagh, who also directs the film, moved the setting of the story ahead 10 years from today in order to present a vision of a renewed cold war struggle between the two superpowers.
Pine brings his charisma to create a unique 21st-century version of Ryan. Keira Knightley plays Cathy Ryan, Jack’s lifelong partner. And Kevin Costner acts as William Harper, a CIA operator who guides Ryan in the right direction.
Compared to American viewers, Koreans are not too familiar with Ryan - which explains why the Korean title of the film is “Code Name Shadow.” However, for those who are greatly interested in the adventures of CIA agents, like in the Jason Bourne movies, this film will be a choice that will be hard to resist.
Animation, Adventure / 108 / English
The kingdom of Arendelle is under a wintery spell, and it’s going to take a brave young princess named Anna and her friend Kristoff - along with Olaf, a topsy-turvy talking snowman - to bring it back to normal. However, it’s not an evil witch that’s put the kingdom under such a spell; it’s Anna’s older sister, Elsa. Since birth, Elsa has had the ability to create ice and snow, a talent that has kept her from getting close to her sister. When a not-so-trustworthy prince proposes to Elsa, Anna refuses to give her blessing. An argument between the two sisters breaks out and Elsa accidentally reveals her powers, which spooks the citizens and forces Elsa to run away to the mountains. There, she creates an ice fortress and an arctic storm that covers most of Arendelle. Anna sets off after her sister, hoping to thaw the kingdom and their relationship.
Since it was released in the United States in November, “Frozen” has become Disney’s second-highest grossing animated film ever and a critical triumph, as reviewers say the film goes back to the roots of Disney’s storytelling and music.
With all of its humorous dialogue, the action-adventure musical is entertaining for both kids and adults - especially when Olaf the sidekick makes his quips. The film is also a step forward for Disney, turning the princesses from just damsels in distress into full-fledged heroines in charge of their own destinies, putting romance in the back seat and opting for loyalty and friendship.
Fruitvale Station (15)
Drama / 85 / English
It was just after midnight on New Year’s Day 2009 in Oakland, California, and 22-year-old Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) was riding in a subway car, stuffed with cheerful commuters coming back from a night of fun. Grant had been pedaling drugs on the streets of Oakland, but he was ready to turn his life around. He had a daughter he wanted to raise, a girlfriend he wanted to marry and he saw himself becoming a more responsible man. But Grant wasn’t ready for the events that unfolded that night when he reached Fruitvale Station.
A violent argument between Grant and some old enemies of his erupted in the subway car, and when the train reached its stop, a police officer grabbed Grant out of the crowd and accused him of instigating the fight. What happened next was captured by bystanders on their cell phone cameras - a transit police officer forced Grant to the ground, then pulled out his gun and shot the young man in the back.
“Fruitvale Station” is a powerful drama based on real-life events that inflamed the public and ignited debates over police brutality against young black men. The film was especially poignant, coming out soon after the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watchman.
The debut film of 27-year-old Ryan Coogler won the grand jury prize at Sundance and subsequently the best first film award at Cannes. Coogler said it wasn’t his intention to show Grant as a martyr, but rather to raise awareness of the issue and have viewers walk in the shoes of Grant and experience his side of life.
Thriller / 75 / Korean
Ju-hyup (Don Lee, but better known as Ma Dong-seok in Korea) is a serial killer who lives in a small village with his son Yong-ho (An Do-kyu), trying to keep a low profile.
Yong-ho is an outcast in school because his classmates say he smells. But it turns out that Yong-ho’s lack of hygene is actually an order from his father. One day, a new student named Ji-su (Kim Hyun-su) is transferred from Seoul to Yong-ho’s school and the two become close friends. Not long after, Yong-ho gets into trouble with the kids who bully Ji-su.
Ju-hyup pays a visit to Ji-su and realizes that she knows who he really is, reviving his natural instincts as a killer.
The film was inspired by the story of Kang Ho-soon, a real serial killer who was caught in 2006. Kang killed many women, including his wife, but also had a son who he adored.
This film focuses on the children, played by An and Kim. An, in particular, impresses as Yong-ho, revealing a mix of emotions at the same time. Don Lee also makes his mark as a remorseless killer.
The film also has been criticized for being too short to really explore its characters.
Crime, Drama / 179 / English
Viewers will be spared no excess in this head-spinning account of the high life once lead by Wall Street fraudster Jordan Belfort.
Belfort, as played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is charming, conniving and a hardcore druggie, but he will have you in stitches as he depicts each phase of his outrageous scams and misbehavior, which landed him in prison for 22 months in the late 1990s.
Much of this story will seem familiar - a self-made man from the suburbs of New York who lied and cheated his way into $49 million before he hit 26. And while director Martin Scorsese shows us the glamour, the booze, the parties and fast cars, there is also emphasis on the business deals and the relationships between Belfort and his associates which brings a dose of morality in a subtle way.
The model turned trophy wife played by Australian actress Margot Robbie captivates, while Jonah Hill plays Belfort’s associate and best friend Donnie, a man with so much baggage that marrying his cousin is the least of his worries.
Last but not least, Matthew McConaughey, who appears just in the first 15 minutes of the film as Mark Hanna, the deranged mentor who sets DiCaprio’s character out on a path of gross immorality, sets the groundwork for all the havoc that follows.
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