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Weekend Preview: ‘Looper’ & ‘Pitch Perfect’ Deliver

Weekend Preview: 'Looper' & 'Pitch Perfect' Deliver

There could be two home runs at the box office this weekend, as both “Looper” and “Pitch Perfect” score highly with critics. “Looper” delivers the sci-fi thrills and “Pitch Perfect” is both ridiculous and thoroughly enjoyable. There’s also a handful of documentaries, plus “Won’t Back Down,” “Headshot” and “Hotel Transylvania” arriving in theaters. Check out details, reviews and trailers below:

“Looper” TriStar, US | DIR: Rian Johnson CAST: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano | Critical Consensus on “Looper” | 91% Fresh | Time: “A fanciful film with the patina of hyper-realism, Looper is well served by actors who behave not as if they were dropped carelessly into the future but spent their whole desperate lives there.” | TOH Interviews Blunt | TOH Review.

“Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” Samuel Goldwyn Films, US | DIR: Lisa Immordino Vreeland | 90% Fresh | Time: “Demonstrates that an almost hypnotic fabulousness can still emanate from the late great fashion editor, even via fuzzy old videotape viewed 23 years after her death.” | Interview with Women and Hollywood.

“The Waiting Room” IFC, US | DIR: Peter Nicks | 86% Fresh | AV Club: “Among its many other distinctions, The Waiting Room stands as a powerful refutation of Romney’s conception of emergency rooms as a reasonable, or even vaguely acceptable, option for the uninsured.” | Anne Thompson interview with Nicks.

“The Iran Job” Paladin, US/IR | DIR: Till Schauder | ThePlaylist Interview & Review | 80% Fresh.

“Pitch Perfect” Universal, US | DIR: Jason Moore CAST: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson | 77% Fresh | AP: “It’s ridiculous and predictable but also just a ton of fun, so you may as well give up and give in to your inner musical theater geek.”

“Headshot” Kino Lorber TH/FR | DIR: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang CAST: Nopachai Jayanama, Celine Horwang, Chanokporn Sayoungkul, Apisit Opasaimlikit, Krerkkiat Punpiputt | 63% Fresh | Slant: “This ‘Buddhist film noir,’ as writer-director Pen-ek Ratanaruang calls it, is surprisingly slow-moving and soulful for a film full of double-crosses and cold-blooded killing.”

“Hotel Transylvania” Columbia, US | DIR: Genndy Tartakovsky CAST (voice): Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James | 46% Fresh | AV Club: “A story about the difficult balance between protecting loved ones and controlling them is discarded so the cast can monomaniacally pursue a trite cliché summed up with a silly noise.” | Immersed in Movies.

“Won’t Back Down” Twentieth C. Fox, US | DIR: Daniel Barnz CAST: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Oscar Isaac, Holly Hunter, Rosie Perez | 36% Rotten | Variety: “Grossly oversimplifying the issue at hand, writer-director Daniel Barnz’s disingenuous pot-stirrer plays to audiences’ emotions rather than their intelligence.”

“The Other Dream Team” Film Arcade, US/LITH | DIR: Marius Markevicius | THR: “Triumph on the basketball court catalyzes national identity for Lithuania in this historical/magical masterwork.”


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First and foremost, it should be noted that this was a co-production with the Communist Chinese government, so, of course, communist Chinese and Communist China could not be not be portrayed in a bad light. And, right on key, that's what we get. A movie about time travel in which Communist China is the center of the universe in the future, and America has descended into a dystopian hell hole. Gee, what a surprise.

I guess that is what we can expect more and more of in the future from blockbuster films: after all, China only permits 34 foreign-made films to enter its film market; only films made in China as co-productions and subject to Chinese censorship are exempt from that number. Does this sound familiar anyone? China expects foreign companies to transfer their expertise to domestic Chinese production companies, while demanding that more and more Western studio films portray Communist Chinese and Communist China in a positive light. So, domestically, we'll continue to see good, bad and indifferent portrayals of America, but only positive portrayals of Communist China

And, the film? Frankly, half way into the film, I realized that my movie ticket was subsidizing authoritarian Communist China's censorship, and walked out of the theater. That's the first time I've ever walked out of a movie.

But the half I saw? Dreadful. In spite of an interesting time travel premise, and innovative visual design, the movie was confusing and focused far too much on images and sounds of guns killing people. Very loud bangs of guns going off again and again and again. Very loud bangs of doors closing and objects falling. A very poor attempt of creating suspense through loud noises.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who I usually like, was covered in weird prosthetic make-up (which was distracting), and was trying to channel Bruce Willis: it was not an effective performance. Bruce Willis, the co-star, well, I'll just say that he has never been one of my favorite actors.

Also strange was that in a movie of over 25 credited male roles set in Kansas City, America, and Shanghai, China, only one male actor was of a race other Caucasian. What is up with that? Can the Communist Chinese not stomach depictions of African American or Asian American males? Or, possibly the Chinese version had more roles for Chinese males (people in China get a longer Sino-centric Director's cut of the movie than we see in the West). It should be noted that in the half movie I saw, there were three women depicted (a blockbuster film with hardly any women in it –yet another surprise): a charming African American waitress in Kansas City, an idealized loving Chinese wife living in Shanghai, and a somewhat callous, materialistic Caucasian prostitute, also in Kansas City. So, the filmmakers seem fine with depicting women of racial diversity, but men get short shrift. If you're male, you're Caucasian, or you're not in the film. Weird.

And, finally, this movie received excellent reviews (94% positive review on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.3 out of 10 on IMDB). The great new movie "The Master" with Phillip Seymor Hoffman only got 85%. If I were a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, I'd bet that the Chinese-American Co-Production company that made this film put the squeeze on Rotten Tomatoes, and hired people to post positive reviews on IMDB. Because that's the only way I can see this God awful mess getting such glowing reviews.

This movie is a dog. Don't go and see it. And, don't subsidize Communist Chinese censorship.

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