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Reviews for February 12th, 2016

Bad Hurt

Directed by Mark Kemble


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Screen Media Films.
Opens at Cinema Village.


Directed by Tim Miller


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by 20th Century Fox.
Opens nationwide.


Directed by Gerard Barrett


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Film Movement.
Opens at Cinema Village.

How to Be Single

Directed by Christian Ditter


Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

Los Domirriqueños

Directed by Eduardo Ortíz


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Duende Films.
Opens at UA Kauman Astoria, Concourse Plaza Multiplex Cinemas, Edgewater Multiplex Cinemas, Jamaica Multiplex Cinemas and Cross County Multiplex Cinemas.

Nina Forever

Directed by Ben and Chris Blaine


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by EpicPictures Group.
Opens at Main Street Cinemas in Queens.


Directed by Sharon Wilharm


Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by Mainstreet Productions.
Opens at AMC Empire 25.

A War

Directed by Tobias Lindholm

      Claus Pedersen (Pilou Asbaek) commands a troop of soldiers stationed in Afghanistan during the Afghan War. His wife, Maria (Tuva Novotny) remains back at home in Denmark struggling to take care of their three young kids all of whom miss their dad. During heavy crossfire, Claus decides to protect his men by bombing a compound where he believes enemy combatants would be found, but when he kills 11 innocent civilians there instead, he ends up in serious trouble for making that decision and must return to Denmark to face charges of war crimes.

      A War hooks you in from the get-go with its first half that's filled with palpably thrilling war scenes which make you feel like you're right there along with Claus and his troop. Writer/director Tobias Lindholm doesn't shy away from showing you the ugly side of war with all of the intensity, gore and confusion that takes place during the battle scenes. The film shifts to the perspective of Claus' wife, Maria, in Denmark every now and then, but the real achievement is in how those scenes help to humanize Claus so that you'll empathize with him during the courtroom scenes in the film's second half. Once the trial begins, A War elevates to a thought-provoking and riveting drama that raises interesting questions about the morality surrounding Claus' decision to bomb the compound. The tension builds as the prosecutor (Charlotte Munck) mounts more and more evidence that could incriminate Claus, yet Lindholm still maintains a sense of moral ambiguity. You'll finding yourself wonder whether or not Claus was acting as both a good soldier and good human being during the crossfire overseas---and what is a good soldier for that matter? Should he tell the truth about not being certain that the the compound he had bombed was an enemy compound? At the same time, A War will make you ask yourself what you would do if you were Claus, especially given that if he were to tell the truth, he would be sacrificing the happiness of his wife and kids while incarcerated. The precise events that take place at the trial won't be spoiled here, but it's worth noting that it will keep you at the edge of your seat.

      In terms of acting, A War boasts stellar performances from everyone onscreen, particularly Pilou Asbaek tackles both the toughness and emotional fragility of Claus' character with conviction. Claus is, after all, a complex, fallible human being which makes him all the more compelling as a character. A lot goes on inside Claus' head, and Lindholm, with the help of Pilou Asbaek's moving performance, does a terrific job providing audiences with a pathway into it every step of the way. If the film began with the courtroom scenes and flashed back to the war scenes, it wouldn't have been as dramatically effective, so kudos to Lindholm's talents as a writer/director for avoiding the use of flashbacks as well as a narrator for that matter. In other words, he trusts the audience's intelligence which is quite refreshing. At a running time of 115 minutes, A War is powerful, gripping, provocative and heartfelt. It's a thinking person's war film.

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Released by Magnolia Pictures.
Opens at AMC Empire 25 and Landmark Sunshine Cinemas.

Zoolander 2

Directed by Ben Stiller


Number of times I checked my watch: 5
Released by Paramount Pictures.
Opens nationwide.
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