Tagline: What Would You Hide To Protect Your Family?
It’s about time that we spent some time with Mark Wahlberg in front of the camera rather than behind it. The man who seems to devote more of his waking hours to executive-producing projects (Boardwalk Empire, In Treatment and, of course, Entourage) than appearing in them makes a return to the big screen in Contraband — which, back in the day, could have been a name for the kind of product he’d advertise.
Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday, who has long since left his life of crime behind. But when his brother-in-law, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), screws up a drug deal for his boss, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), Chris must return to his ways of running contraband in order to settle Andy’s debt. So far, so sort-of-Drive. Except Contraband involves a quick trip to Panama and lacks the brilliant Carey Mulligan, so settles for fellow Brit Kate Beckinsale.
Critics aren’t sure whether to settle for the movie’s high-octane vibe. “Contraband involves a lot of energy, but I’m getting tired of violent retreads of these heist elements,” notes Roger Ebert. “If ingeniousness is a foreign concept to Contraband, so too are time and space,” slams Slant. But Entertainment Weekly can see the positives, stating that, “while often grungy and far-fetched, does keep you watching. And in January, that’s recommendation enough.” We kind of see where they’re coming from.
Beauty and the Beast 3D
Tagline: The most beautiful love story ever told
Come clean, Hollywood! Is the purpose of 3D to take cinema to a new level (Avatar, Hugo) or simply cash in on your back catalog (The Lion King, Star Wars)? We must add Beauty and the Beast to the latter category as that movie’s re-release is upon us. It recounts the tale of the heroine Belle, taken prisoner by that hideous creature in his castle. She learns to see beneath the Beast’s exterior to discover the heart and soul of a prince. And it’s a heart and soul that will almost certainly leap out of the screen at you in three terrifying dimensions, possibly proving in, the irony of the week, that the film industry has neither heart nor soul.
The mainstream reviewers don’t seem altogether keen thus far to go back over old ground (though for the most part, the original got raves) so we turn to the slightly less quoted Hollywood & Fine, who said, “The 3D is unnecessary — but it doesn’t spoil the fun of Beauty and the Beast.” TIME’s Richard Corliss agrees, writing, “The process is sometimes an ornament, once or twice a distraction, but it doesn’t materially dilute the still-sublime experience.”
You know what you’re getting, but will you want to shell out for it? Perhaps if you have children, the question has already been answered.
There couldn’t possibly be a better time to jump on the Sherlock Holmes bandwagon. Guy Ritchie’s two movies have charmed the world, and the BBC TV series Sherlock is arguably even superior.
So kudos to all involved for coming up with the idea behind Albatross, the story of Emelia Conan-Doyle (Jessica Brown Findlay, known best for her turn as Lady Sybil on Downton Abbey), the 17-year-old heir to the legacy of Arthur Conan Doyle, the man behind the man, as it were. Harboring an ambition to follow in the literary footsteps of her grandfather, Emelia writes while working at a seaside hotel populated by the likes of novelist Jonathan (Sebastian Koch), his put-upon wife (Julia Ormond) and their daughter, Beth (Felicity Jones).
Perhaps the reason that critical opinion is mixed is due to much of the subject matter revolving around writing, which is a topic close to any reviewer’s heart. “Despite a nice performance from newcomer Jessica Brown Findlay, this Tamara Dreweish coming-of-age drama is not entirely convincing,” writes The Guardian. “It could be an exercise in indolence if not for the razor-sharp dialogue that springs from the screen, especially in the precocious mouth of Brown Findlay, whose performance is startling,” is the slightly more positive conclusion of Empire. It would be a shame if the only way people find out for themselves is if screenings of the Sherlock Holmes sequel are sold out and Albatross becomes the second choice.
NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: If action is your thing, then Contraband could be for you. Something more thought-provoking? Albatross is the one.