Winter’s Tale

Warner Brothers

Rated PG-13 for sensuality and violence

Cat Burglar Courts Sickly Heiress In Searing Exploration Of Undying Love

Peter Lake’s (Colin Farrell) parents had hoped to immigrate to the U.S. but were turned away at Ellis Island upon their arrival early in the 20th century. Denied their shot at the American Dream, the Russian couple decided to leave their baby behind, setting him adrift in a tiny model of a ship called the “City ofJustice.”

The infant was carried by the tide to the shores of Bayonne, New Jersey, where he was found and raised by compassionate clam-diggers. Upon coming of age, the teen moved toManhattanand earned an honest wage as a mechanic until succumbing to the pressure to join a gang of ruffians led by the ruthless Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe).

Peter was subsequently schooled in thievery under Pearly’s tutelage, though the two would become mortal enemies once the protégé tired of doing his malevolent mentor’s bidding as a cat burglar. Even after severing his ties to the criminal enterprise, the exasperated orphan was forever looking over his shoulder while on the run from the burly bully.

A critical moment of truth arrives when Peter finds himself surrounded by his former partners in crime and is somehow spirited away by a winged white stallion. Another turning point in the lad’s life transpires the fateful night he enters a well-fortified mansion’s second-floor window with felonious intentions.

For, before he has a chance to ransack the premises, Peter comes face-to-face with Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), a sickly young heiress suffering from tuberculosis. And despite her impending demise, he becomes hopelessly smitten with the frail, philosophical free-spirit. Over the objections of her skeptical father (William Hurt), the star-crossed lovers proceed to embark on an otherworldly romance as enduring as it is ethereal.

Thus unfolds Winter’s Tale, a delightful flight of fancy marking the directorial debut of Akiva Goldsman, who won an Oscar for his screenplay adaptation of A Beautiful Mind. Akiva also wrote the script for this film which is based on Mark Helprin’s flowery best-seller of the same name.

Does this movie measure up to the source material? Can’t say, since I haven’t read it. Nevertheless, I found this well-crafted piece of magical realism quite imaginative and intriguing, though I suspect fans of the book might be a bit disappointed, given how much is ordinarily lost in translation bringing any 700-page book to the big screen.

A searing, supernatural exploration of the human soul suggesting not only that love is real but that miracles happen, too!

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 118 minutes

 

 

The New Black

Film Forum

Unrated

Gay Celebrated As “The New Black” In Out-Of-The-Closet Documentary

The African-American community has been slow to get on the gay rights bandwagon, at least according to exit polls conducted on election days in states likeCaliforniawhere the narrow defeat of same-sex marriage in 2008 was blamed on black folks. What’s up with that? After all, one would expect blacks, as the long-suffering victims of segregation and discrimination, including miscegenation laws forbidding race-mixing, to be quick to support LGBT equality.

But that hasn’t been the case according to The New Black, an eye-opening documentary directed by Yoruba Richen. The film follows the recent effort of African-American activists to rally support for Proposition 6, aMaryland same-sex referendum. This was to be no mean feat, given the way that the Black Church has dragged its feet in terms of LGBT issues.

The gay rights movement was apparently up against walking around money greasing the palms of black pastors coming courtesy of Mormons and white Evangelicals eager to sway the African-American vote. The Born Again crowd pressed for a literal interpretation of scriptures that leave no doubt about God’s will. Still, Bible-thumping bigots are ostensibly at odds with the open-minded attitude advocated by George Gershwin’s heretical hymn, “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” which warns that “the things that you’re liable to read in the Bible ain’t necessarily so.”

As far as conservative black ministers, some have called homosexuality “a white man’s disease,” and shunned members of their congregation who have come out of the closet. This even happened to Tonex, a Grammy-nominated gospel singer who found his homosexual “perversions” criticized by colleague Reverend Donnie McClurkin, a convert to heterosexuality who has come to reject what he refers to as the gay lifestyle.

Nevertheless, most brothers seem to be coming around to a more tolerant attitude, despite the homophobia previously permeating black culture. For example, as a presidential candidate, Barack Obama narrowly defined marriage “as a union between a man and a woman,” only to arrive last year at a belief that “our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.”

The African-American community collectively jumps the broom over its last big taboo!

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 75 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening February 14, 2014

 

About Last Night (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality and brief drug use) A modern reimagining of the 1986 romantic comedy based on “Sexual Perversity In Chicago,” the David Mamet play following two couples (Kevin Hart and Regina Hall, and Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant) whose relationships are put to the test as they venture from the bar to the bedroom. With Paula Patton, Christopher McDonald and Terrell Owens.

 

Endless Love (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, partying and partial nudity) Remake of the romance drama about the star-crossed love affair between teens (Gabriella Wilde and Alex Pettyfer) from opposite sides of the tracks. With Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Robert Patrick, Emma Rigby and Dayo Okeniyi.

 

RoboCop (PG-13 for sensuality, drug use, brief profanity and pervasive intense violence) Sci-fi remake, set in Detroit in 2028, about a police officer (Joel Kinnaman) who is turned into a bionic crime-fighting killing machine equipped with state-of-the-art gadgetry after being critically injured by a car bomb. Talented cast includes Oscar nominees Samuel L. Jackson (for Pulp Fiction), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (for Secrets & Lies), Gary Oldman (for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Jackie Earle Haley (for Little Children), along with Michael Keaton and Jay Baruchel.

 

Adult World (R for sexuality and drug use) Romantic comedy about a recent college grad and aspiring poet (Emma Roberts) who reluctantly takes a job at a porno shop until an English professor (John Cusack) she admires offers her a position as his assistant. With Armando Riesco, Shannon Woodward and Chris Riggi.

 

Beijing Love Story (Unrated) Screen version of the popular Asian TV series of the same name exploring romance and relationships from a Chinese perspective. Starring Tony Leung Ka Fai, Carina Lau, Gaowa Siqin and Xuebing Wang. (In Mandarin with subtitles)

 

Date And Switch (R for graphic sexuality, crude humor, pervasive profanity and drug and alcohol abuse, all involving teens) Out-of-the-closet comedy about a straight teen (Nicholas Braun) who gets the surprise of his life after entering a pact with his secretly gay best friend (Hunter Cope) to lose their virginity before the senior prom. With Nick Offerman, Gary Cole, Megan Mullally, Dakota Johnson and Sarah Hyland.

 

Easy Money: Hard To Kill (Unrated) Action-oriented sequel finds coke smuggling protagonist (Joel Kinnaman) leaving prison and returning to his old illicit ways upon rejoining his gang. Cast includes Matias Varela, Dragomir Mrsic and Fares Fares. (In Swedish, Spanish, English, Serbian, Croatian and Arabic)

 

Girl On A Bicycle (R for sexuality, nudity and profanity) Romantic romp revolving around the triangle which ensues after an Italian bus driver (Vincenzo Amato) falls in love with a French passerby (Louise Monot) right after proposing to his German stewardess sweetheart (Nora Tschirner). With Paddy Considine, Stephane Debac and Brice Fournier.

 

Lucky Bastard (NC-17 for explicit sexuality) Found footage horror flick about a fan (Jay Paulson) who comes to regret answering an adult website’s invitation to have sex with his favorite porn star (Betsy Rue). With Don McManus, Chris Wylde and Catherine Annette.

 

The Returned (Unrated) Horror flick set in a post-apocalyptic world where infected zombies are able to live normal lives until the retroviral drug upon which they depend runs out. Co-starring Kris Holden-Ried, Emily Hampshire, Shawn Doyle and Claudia Bassols.

 

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