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What to See, What to Skip: New Reviews This Week

What to See, What to Skip: New Reviews This Week

This week in theaters, film goers can finally see Michael Fassbender’s much talked-about turn in the NC-17 rated “Shame.” But Steve McQueen’s acclaimed follow-up to “Hunger” isn’t the only flick opening this weekend. Below see what else is coming out and decide what’s worth checking out.


The Playlist: B+
Ralph Fiennes is firmly in control as both the director and powerful title character. While the play is ultimately a tad too big for the film to wrap itself around, it’s clear that the final product could have been far worse in less capable hands.


Using one of Shakespeare’s vilest characters as a template, Ralph Fiennes creates a character that is simultaneously charming and unsympathetic. The modern setting makes the dense action easier to follow, giving Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox the opportunity to give some extraordinary supporting turns.

Indiewire: B-

Whenever it falls prey to overstatement, “Kinyarwanda” loses some of its pull, but Brown intermittently regains it. A haunting late scene finds the war-scarred teen confronting the Tutsi who murdered her family. The exchange only works because the film has kept her around long enough to make her predicament seem real.  “Kinyarwanda” balances off many of its obvious ingredients with more involving scenes that put words into action. While the flimsier moments prevent it from being a major achievement, it still maintains a few minor ones.

Indiewire: B+
In Steve McQueen’s “Hunger,” Michael Fassbender played an Irish Republican prisoner who demonstrated commitment to his cause by starving himself. As Brandon, the affluent and ceaselessly horny New Yorker in McQueen’s “Shame,” Fassbender has no such intense convictions. While “Hunger” contained an extensive monologue explaining the character’s behavior, “Shame” leaves much of Brandon open for interpretation. As a result, Fassbender’s revealing and compelling performance doesn’t just dominate “Shame;” he defines it.

Fassbender and Mulligan give visceral performances in a film that seems to be a perfect fulfillment of Steve McQueen’s vision. But it’s NC-17 nature seems to service its own boldness and “bravery” rather than give the audience a story that’s worthy of a significant emotional investment.
Although the film’s ending does undo a bit of the narrative goodwill accrued from all that comes before it, Fassbender and Mulligan are marvellous. It’s the film that proves McQueen has ascended to the ranks of “must-see” directorial talent.
“Sleeping Beauty”

Indiewire: B+

This visually ambitious anti-fairytale might be too cerebral for its intended emotional response, relying on imagery instead of dialogue for key plot advancement. But Julia Leigh’s script and direction gives Emily Browning an impressive showcase filled with nuanced, mature highlights.
While the overall film seems somewhat constrained by a slightly novelistic approach, all of its individual elements shine through as superb. The technical features all work together to create a world eerily close to reality and filled with brain-searing imagery.

There is little subtlety or nuance to be found among the endless bloodshed depicted onscreen. But, even though the film strays to the side of one-note, the commitment and rhythm inside the fictionalized brutality is executed with notable familiarity.
What starts out as a dark and clever yazuka output quickly descends into a gory killfest that does little to elicit anything other than apathy. The gorgeous camerawork can’t do much to convey an involving story when the telling of it seems so detached.

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