Kam Williams Special To the Skanner News
BIG BUDGET FILMS
American Hustle (R for sexuality, pervasive profanity and brief violence) David O. Russell wrote and directed this crime drama about a couple of con artists (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) forced by an overzealous FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to infiltrate a New Jersey underworld inhabited by mobsters protected by a crooked, big city mayor (Jeremy Renner). Support cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K. and Michael Pena.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (PG-13 for intense violence and frightening images) Second installment of the fantasy trilogy based on the J.R.R. Tolkien classic finds Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and company continuing their epic journey to Lonely Mountain for a showdown with a fearsome dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch). Cast includes Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett and Stephen Fry.
A Madea Christmas (PG-13 for profanity, crude humor and sexual references) Tyler Perry’s back in drag in this adaptation of his holiday-themed play, set in a small Southern town, as a moralizing, motor-mouthed granny straightening out sinners while spreading Christmas cheer. Ensemble includes Tika Sumpter, Larry the Cable Guy, Anna Maria Horsford, Kathy Najimy and Chad Michael Murray.
Saving Mr. Banks (PG-13 for mature themes and unsettling images) Period piece recounting Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) bending over backwards to secure the film rights to Mary Poppins from P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the overprotective author of the beloved children’s book. With Paul Giamatti, Colin Farrell, Rachel Griffiths, Ruth Wilson and Jason Schwartzman.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
Brave Miss World (Unrated) Female empowerment biopic recounting how Miss Israel Linor Abargil first went on to win the Miss World beauty pageant just six weeks after being abducted, raped and stabbed. She subsequently spoke out about sexual assault over the course of her reign.
The Crash Reel (Unrated) Daredevil documentary chronicling the fierce rivalry between fellow snowboarders Shaun White and Kevin Pearce culminating in the former’s winning a gold medal at the Olympics the year after the latter suffered a near-fatal injury during a training run.
Here Comes the Devil (Unrated) Psychological horror flick, set in Mexico, about a couple (Francisco Barreiro and Laura Caro) whose kids (Michele Garcia and Alan Martinez) vanish while on a family vacation in Tijuana only to behave strangely different when found. With Jessica Iris, Dana Dorel and David Arturo Cabezud. (In Spanish with subtitles)
Hours (PG-13 for violence, mature themes and drug use) Recently-deceased Paul Walker stars in this tale of survival, set in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, as a father who tries to keep his premature baby daughter alive after his wife (Genesis Rodriguez) dies during childbirth. With Nick Gomez, Judd Lormand and Michelle Torres.
The Last of the Unjust (PG-13 for mature themes) Holocaust documentary about Theresienstadt, a model ghetto designed by Hitler henchman Adolf Eichmann to mislead Jews about its true function as the final stop before the gas chambers. (In German, French and English with subtitles)
Liv & Ingmar (Unrated) Reverential retrospective revisiting the decades-long relationship of Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann and Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.
Nuclear Nation (Unrated) Tsunami documentary chronicling the continuing fallout for Japanese refugees displaced by the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant in the wake of the 2011 Earthquake.
Some Velvet Morning (Unrated) Neil LaBute wrote and directed this midlife crisis drama about a married man (Stanley Tucci) who becomes obsessed with his estranged mistress (Alice Eve) after failing to convince her that he’s finally left his wife for her.
Tricked (Unrated) Absurdist farce about a businessman (Peter Blok) whose life starts to spin out of control at a 50th birthday party thrown for him by his wife (Ricky Koole) when his pregnant mistress (Sallie Harmsen) shows up uninvited. With Robert de Hoog, Carolien Spoor and Pieter Tiddens. (In Dutch and English with subtitles)
The Unbelievers (Unrated) Flat Earth documentary featuring peripatetic scientists’ Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss’ globetrotting campaign promoting science and reason over religion and superstition. With commentary by Woody Allen, Cameron Diaz and Ricky Gervais.
The Unknown Known (Unrated) Errol Morris directed this 20/20 hindsight
documentary in which he grills former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about the War in Iraq and other political issues.