“In the Heart of the Sea”
Chris Hemsworth takes some time off from being Thor and teams up with all-American filmmaker Ron Howard to bring you the story that inspired the book everybody cites, but nobody actually read – “Moby Dick.” Howard captures the 1800’s well, and any of the moments when whales enter the frame are splendid and usually action-packed. Along with Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Benjamin Walker, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Michelle Fairley and Tom Holland anchor the cast with tense acting during the action. There are times when scenes sink into melodrama, but the whale usually saves anything from dragging or plunging too far. The heart of this movie isn’t quite balanced, but the sea part strikes quick and hard – worth a watch.
“Our Brand is Crisis”
Sandra Bullock’s brand is hardened actor. Years spent as Hollywood’s sweetheart browbeat her wise. Just take a look at 2013’s “Gravity” and “Heat,” two atypical roles for her in one year. For her follow-up, she chose this role as a road-weary political consultant trying to reelect a controversial Bolivian president, played by the charismatic Joaquim de Almeida. Sometimes, the political parody goes from dark humor to just plain bleak, but director David Gordon Green has the range to pull it off. Green got popular for over-the-top raunchiness as co-creator of HBO’s “Eastbound & Down,” but he consistently shows his dramatic depths in movies like 2013’s “Joe.” A great supporting cast helps too. Billy Bob Thornton almost always entertains. Anthony Mackie adds a snappy dynamic, and character-actor Ann Dowd throws in some strong moments. It’s not a great film, but it’s an interesting film, a nice choice for Bullock and worth a watch.
Only a few filmmakers set their own trends with their own visual aesthetics. Guillermo del Toro’s films look like no one else’s – “Mimic,” the “Hellboy” franchise, “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Pacific Rim.” His movies inspire truckloads of other moviemakers. Always roving the fantastical, for his latest film, del Toro moves into a gothic ghost story with a house that holds on to its tragedies. It’s also a love square with the principle intersecting points played by Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunnam. But the true star of del Toro’s films are usually the special effects, and how the actors interact with them. Most of this cast has performed with effects in the past, and here, they don’t disappoint when thrown onto a set that bleeds and breathes and provides some rich melodrama. Gothic gets a colorful makeover, del Toro doesn’t peak, but he does provide another movie that’s worth a watch.