If you like the idea of seeing "Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace" (and paying for it) in 3-D, go forth. However, if you want to enjoy some grittier contemporary cinema: Poland's Foreign Language Oscar contender "In Darkness" goes back to the Holocaust and delivers an absorbing drama, "Rampart" introduces you to the worst cop you'll ever meet (played superbly by Woody Harrelson), and "Safe House" returns Denzel Washington to the big screen where he belongs (does it even matter what the movie is about?). You can also get in the mood for Valentine's Day with the Rachel McAdams-Channing Tatum confection, "The Vow." But be warned: it's for people who like to get teddy bears on Valentine's Day. Oscar nominated shorts are also playing this weekend, at Los Angeles' Nuart theater. Details, reviews and trailers below:
"Safe House" Universal, US | Dir: Daniel Espinosa; Cast: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard | ThePlaylist talks with Espinosa | 52% Tomatometer | Michael Phillips says: "Even at its most frantic and mechanical, the movie relies on Washington to provide a visual anchor, some sociopathic calm amid the storm." | Karina Longworth says: "scattered but not totally disagreeable."
"In Darkness" SPC, POL | Dir: Agniezka Holland; Cast: Robert Wieckiewicz, Benno Fürmann, Agnieszka Grochowska, Maria Schrader | TOH! Q & A with Holland | 89% Tomatometer | David Edelstein says: "In outline, In Darkness is a standard conversion melodrama, but little within those parameters is easy. The darkness lingers into the light." | Lisa Schwarzbaum says: "A daringly murky-looking movie that demands viewers enter the void."
"Rampart" Millennium, US | Dir: Oren Moverman; Cast: Woody Harrelson, Robin Wright, Ben Foster, Jon Bernthal | Would-be Dark Horse Oscar contender Harrelson | 73% Tomatometer | Owen Gleiberman says: "Rampart won't be for everyone, but it's the work of a major directorial voice. It's a thriller on fire." | Glenn Kenny says: "Harrelson's work here is so committed that many might feel his character's journey is worth sitting through for that alone."
"The Vow" Screen Gems, US | Dir: Michael Sucsy; Cast: Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Jessica Lange, Sam Neill | ThePlaylist considers its Soundtrack | 54% Tomatometer | Todd McCarthy says: "Earnest hokum of this nature has become increasingly rare. And for a reason." | Emma Dibdin says: "For all its clunky scripting there's an essential sweetness at work here, thanks partly to McAdams."