FILM REVIEWS | Contraband, Beauty and the Beast 3D and Pariah
- January 14, 2012 3:15 PM |
- By Eli Glasner
This is one of the rare January genre flicks that offers value for money. You get a mob movie, a smuggling movie and heist film all rolled into one. There's action on the high seas, an armored car take-down, beat downs and all it of anchored by Mr. Sensitive/Angry Man, Mark Wahlberg. Tell the pretenders to the throne (Statham and Tatum I'm looking at you) Marky Mark is one of the few true action heroes we have. There's more machismo in his constantly furrowed brow, than the cast of Expendables 1 and 2 combined. Sure, Contraband is filled with cookie-cutter characters; Kate Beckinsale as the rock-n-roll hairdresser who can't afford a decent dye job and Giovanni Ribisi as the tattooed lowlife with the grimy goatee. But Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur keeps the story plugging along so we don't have time to wonder why these legends of the smuggling world spend so much time describing their elaborate plans...on cell phones.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 3D
While I have issues with 3D, I was pleasantly surprised with the newly converted and gussied-up version of the 1991 hit Beauty and the Beast. The tale is the same: pretty girl meets cursed, tall, dark and furry. I'm not going to waste space recapping the story, but it was charming, with the voice of Jerry Orbach's leering Lumière worth the price of admission alone. While it's instructive to see how far animation has come in 20 years, part of what I enjoyed while revisiting The Beauty And The Beast was the pace. The story spools out slowly, taking its time with numerous musical numbers for enchanted silverware. Even the animation itself, the old hand-drawn cells, have their own magic. The expressions on the Beast's face, with his furry mane and tusks, is a great mix of fearsome and funny. B&TB does suffer from some consistency issues; the barroom brawl scene looks particularly second-rate. The true surprise is the 3D, which actually adds to the experience. The technology has been applied with a subtle touch. With the glasses on, the characters seem to float above the background, much like what you'd see in a Viewmaster, if you're old enough to remember another analog technology.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5
A very personal tale that comes in part from the director's own experiences, Pariah is a fascinating view into a seldom-seen subculture. Adepero Oduye plays Alike, a black, teen lesbian hiding her true self from her family. Alike exhausts herself, dressing in tight pink numbers for her Mom and then switching over to rock the latest hip-hop gear as soon as she can. Pernell Walker plays Laura, one of Alike's friends, who is out and proud. She paid the price as she was banished by her mother, but Laura's still happy to show Alike the ropes. Oduye shows us Alike's internal battle as she struggles with her own desires and her parents' disapproval. We watch her eyes go wide at the girls' night club watching dancers grind, but ironically, it's a friend introduced by the church who shows Alike the way. If Pariah suffers from anything, it's an excess of earnestness-- that and Kim Wayans' one-note performance as the mother-in-denial. Still, for an raw and at times bracing look at the minority of a minority, Pariah adds a new twist on the story of coming out in America.
RATING: 4 out of 5
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