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Recliner Reviews | Good dramas in ‘Black Sea’ and ‘Slow West’

Jude Law in “Black Sea.”
Jude Law in “Black Sea.”

“Black Sea”

As the title implies, most of this movie takes place down in the Black Sea as a submarine crew looks for another submarine loaded with German gold sunk during WWII.

There are typically two rules when making a movie about submarines. The first is there needs to be a power struggle, and the second is an intense sense of claustrophobia.

There’s also a wild card element to the sub film – international intrigue. Director Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland” and “State of Play”) does a nice job of building natural suspense with the surroundings.

The power struggle feels contrived, but the international cast gives the actors a nice interplay. Macdonald’s real muse is Jude Law. Instead of letting the sub become the end-all-be-all, Law takes control of these scenes and almost makes this a character study. It’s not the best sub movie ever made, but don’t sink it either, because it’s worth a watch.

“Slow West”

Here is a film about teenage love and a mysterious stranger and misunderstandings and bad intentions, and it’s set out on the frontier of 19th-century America. It’s one of those films that can be described as both gritty and beautiful.

Michael Fassbender is proving to be a courageous and smart actor in both his film choices and his subtleties on screen. The young Kodi Smit-McPhee may also be heading in the same direction. Ben Mendelsohn joins on for the ride and brings his odd flare with him. (Mendelsohn was also in “Black Sea.”)

This is writer/director John Maclean’s first feature-length film. Before transitioning into film he played keyboards and sampler with the influential electronic Beta Band. His musician background is apparent as this film sweeps in movements.

Not to make too bold a statement, but Clint Eastwood is also a musician, and he’s no slouch as a director of westerns. Far from slow, this film is impressive and worth a watch.

“Unfinished Business”

Enough already, quit bashing the guy. Vince Vaughn is who he is. He likes doing redemption movies. That’s what you’re going to get from him. He’s got the snarky delivery down. He’s good at them … period. Let’s move past him and find out if this one is worth seeing.

It also stars Tom Wilkinson, and who doesn’t love to see award-winning actors doing dumb stuff, especially the British ones? There’s also Dave Franco. He’s like James Franco at a discount, but he doesn’t take himself as seriously, and he steals a few moments here.

This is Vaughn’s second movie with director Ken Scott, who also did “Delivery Man,” so if you liked that one, you’ll probably like this one.

hen there’s writer Steve Conrad, who also penned “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “The Weather Man.” Conrad is all about the redemption story. It’s also a hard R-rating, so there’s that.

The results – the laughs aren’t rolling in, but this business is barely worth a watch.

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