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Reviews for July 25th, 2014


Directed by Ben Ketai

      Samantha (Kelly Noonan), an environmental lawyer, returns to her hometown to celebrate the retirement of her coal miner father, George (Jeff Fahey). She agrees to join George and his coworkers for his final day on the job by going down into the coal mine along with them. A cave-in, though, leaves them trapped 600 feet underground with no chance for a rescue team to reach them until at least 72 hours later. The surviving miners lock themselves in a rescue chamber that provides them with food, water and oxygen albeit for a limited time. Little do they know that something sinister and supernatural awaits them outside of the chamber.

      The concept of people trapped somewhere isolated has been done over and over and over. There's nothing wrong with following a worn-out sub-genre except that the bar has to be raised a little higher each time. The Descent would be the best example of the sub-genre because it maximizes the elements of suspense, imagination, creepiness and surprises. Unfortunately, when it comes to Beneath, the screenplay by Patrick Doody and Chris Valenziano doesn't take those elements to the max thereby leaving you underwhelmed. It's not horrible or so-bad-it's-campy; just sort of run-of-the-mill and shallow without anything that stands out in particular. The special effects are decent and there's some claustrophobia felt initially, but it quickly wanes as tedium sets in. Once the genre switches from horror to supernatural/suspense, that's when Beneath loses most of its steam and potential to rise above your average B horror film. There are no memorable sequences or characters, and little to no comic relief which would've provided some levity. At least the time is just 1 hour and 29 minutes, so it's not a painful chore to sit through. If there were double features nowadays, The Descent would be the A movie and Beneath be the underwhelming B movie.

Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by IFC Midnight.
Opens at IFC Center.

The Divine Move

Directed by Beom-gu Cho


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by CJ Entertainment.
Opens at Edgewater Multiplex Cinemas.


Directed by Luc Besson


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Universal Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

A Most Wanted Man

Directed by Anton Corbijn

      Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a German intelligence agent, investigates Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a young Russian-Chechen man who shows up tortured in Hamburg and seeks asylum. Issa says that he's the heir of a deceased Russian man and wants to claim his 10 million Euros fortune. Is he who he says he is or does he have an ulterior motive that might be connected to terrorism? That's part of what Günther has to figure out, but he believes that Issa is actually innocent, and wants to use him as bait to catch true criminals in the Islamic community, i.e. an Islamic philanthropist Faisil Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi) who might be providing financial support for terrorists. Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams), a civil rights lawyer, helps to prove Issa's innocence while Maximilian (Daniel Bruhl) and Irna (Nina Hoss) assist Günther in his investigation. The case gets more tangles when a member of the CIA (Robin Wright) gets involved and would rather imprison Issa than use him a bait. Willem Dafoe plays a banker.

      Based on the novel by John le Carré, A Most Wanted Man isn't your standard Hollywood spy thriller if you compare it to modern day spy thrillers. First of all, it's a slow-burn and requires you to use your intelligence to piece together all of its details. As the plot progresses and certain facts about Issa rise to the surface, you see him in a whole new perspective. The same can be said about the CIA who, you'd think and hope, are supposed to be fair, just and compliant with basic human rights. That's what makes this film so intriguing: the more complex it becomes, the more provocative you'll find it to be. Its slow pace might take a while to get used to initially---especially if you're used to spy thrillers like The Bourne Identity---but your patience will be rewarded because the final 15 minutes or so will have you at the edge of your seat and getting a bit misty-eyed given the nature of the twists and turns.

      Just as expected, Philip Seymour Hoffman, adds gravitas as Günther and knocks it out of the ballpark performance-wise. Moreover, his German accent sounds quite believable. Every time he's on screen, you'll feel captivated. Rachel McAdams doesn't fair as well, though, when it comes to pulling off her German accent. She's miscast here. Robin Wright and Willem Dafoe are terrific, as usual, and the underrated Nina Hoss makes the most out of her brief time onscreen. Hoss seems to love slow-burn thrillers: she was amazing in Barbara. Philip Seymour Hoffman, though, in his final leading role, shines the most here and is reason enough for you to see this film. It wouldn't be surprising if he were nominated later this year for a posthumous Best Actor award.

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Released by Roadside Attractions.
Opens nationwide.

My Man is a Loser

Directed by Mike Young


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Lionsgate Films.
Opens at Village East Cinema.

Summer Snow

Directed by Jeremy and Kendra White


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by American Family Studios.
Opens in Tupelo, MS and Lexington, KY.
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