R.I.P.D.

Universal Pictures

Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, sensuality and sexual references

Slain Cop Rises From The Dead In Revenge Action Comedy

Veteran detective Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) is very content between his 15-year career with the Boston Police Department and being happily married to the love of his life, Julia (Stephanie Szostak). However, his American Dream is irreversibly ruined the fateful day he is assigned to bring down a drug cartel conducting business out of an abandoned factory along the waterfront.

For, greed gets the best of his partner, Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon), after the ensuing shootout, when they discover a stash of gold artifacts. And instead of taking the antique ingots back to headquarters, he decides to shoot Nick dead and blame the murder on the bad guys. To add insult to injury, Bobby consoles Julia and even has the temerity to put the moves on the grieving widow.

Meanwhile, Nick finds himself neither in Heaven nor Hell, but in a police purgatory where a proctor (Mary-Louise Parker) offers him a chance to return to Earth as a member of a squad of zombie cops called the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.). He leaps at the opportunity, and is immediately paired with a late, Old West lawman, a salty cowboy named Roycephus Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges).

The grizzled gunslinger grudgingly agrees to work with a partner for the first time, and in the blink of an eye the two are teleported back to Beantown to round up renegade dead souls who have somehow evaded the afterlife. There, Nick conveniently also has an opportunity to check in on Julia and plot his revenge on Bobby.

Like a poor man’s version of Men In Black, R.I.P.D. is a disappointing action comedy both in terms of action and comedy. Think “ghost” instead of “alien” adversaries and you have the basic idea of what director Robert Schwentke is going for.

Unfortunately, the obsolete special f/x leave a lot to be desired, and the corny jokes fall flat. Another major structural flaw is the lack of chemistry between the protagonists, a no-no in any unlikely-buddies adventure. Ryan Reynolds looks lost opposite the drawling, generally unintelligible Jeff Bridges who behaves like he’s still on the set of True Grit.

R.I.P.D. is D.O.A.!

 

Fair (1 star)

Running Time: 96 minutes

 

 

Israel: A Home Movie

Film Forum

Unrated

Israel Revisited Via A Collage Culled From Home Movies

Most people’s general impressions ofIsraelcome as a result of watching news stories prepared by professional journalists. If you’re interested in getting a more intimate feeling of the country untainted by politics, you might want to check out this documentary by Eliav Lilti.

The movie is basically a collage of home movies shot by amateur shutterbugs on Super 8 film between the ‘30s and the ‘70s. Besides reminding us of mundane fare like birthdays and bar mitzvahs, it covers subject-matter ranging from euphoric Romanian refugees dancing on the deck of a boat as they arrive in Israel, to a nurse comforting a wounded private who has just lost three limbs in battle, to settlers building in the occupied territories.

Together, these assorted images prove fascinating, since they paint the melancholy, collective psyche of a haunted homeland hopelessly caught in cycles of conflict where the next crisis might lurk just around the corner. For, here, we see a Jewish family grieving a young man murdered in a terrorist attack. And there, we hear a shell-shocked soldier declare, “God bless morphine!”

The tableau that perhaps says it all unfolds at a Yom Kippur beach party whose festivities are suddenly disrupted when a jet fighter is shot down over the sea.Israelcaptured through the eyes of ordinary citizens as a vulnerable refuge where tragedy has become the norm, and where peace invariably leads back to war.

 

Very Good (3 stars)

In Hebrew with subtitles

Running time: 94 minutes

 

 

Big Words

AFFRM / Twice Told Films

Unrated

Rap Group Reunites On 2008 Election Day In Dream Deferred Drama

It’s November 4, 2008, andBrooklynis bristling with anticipation about the impending election returns to see whether or not Barack Obama will be the nation’s first African-American president. But the magic of the moment is pretty much lost on John aka MC Wordsmith (Dorian Missick), James aka Jay-V (Gbenga Akinnagbe) and Terry aka DJ Malik (Darien Sills-Evans), despite the fact that they’re black and hail from the ‘hood.

Back in the early ‘90s, the three shared a brief promising career as the Down Low Poets, a fledgling hip-hop act which produced a video, two singles and an unreleased album before disappearing from the record-biz radar. The group disbanded, went their separate ways and lost touch entirely.

Today, with Obama poised to make history, we find each consumed by a personal crisis. John has just been laid off from his job as an IT technician. James is now a book publicist in a stagnant relationship and considering seducing his handsome, young intern (Zachary Booth). Only Terry is still an aspiring rap star, and stubbornly refuses to see the handwriting on the wall after a couple of decades squandered desperately trying to make it in the music business.

By a twist of fate, their paths cross at an election night party where Obama’s achievement only serves as a distracting backdrop. Proving far more compelling are the personal questions being raised. What are John’s chances with the stripper (Yaya Alafia) he just picked up at a go-go bar?

Will out-of-the-closet James’ once-hidden homosexuality remain a block to repairing relationships with his former pals, especially his cousin, John? Will Terry drop the hip-hop moniker, pull up his pants, and get a real job?

Written and directed by Neil Drumming, Big Words is a perfectly plausible, character-driven drama with only one glaring flaw. Why bother to set an African-American tale on Election Night 2008, if you plan to give Obama’s triumph such short shrift?

A poignant portrait of a very eventful day in the lives of a trio too self-absorbed to care about who was about to win the White House.

 

Very Good (3 stars)

Running time: 94 minutes

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening July 26, 2013

 

The Wolverine (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity and intense violence) Sixth installment in Marvel Comics’ X-Men franchise, set in Japan, finds Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) stripped of his invincibility and locked in a life or death battle with a mysterious figure from his past (Hiroyuki Sanada) whose daughter (Tao Okamoto) is his current love interest. With Famke Janssen, Will Yun Lee and Brian Tee.

 

The To Do List (R for profanity, graphic dialogue, pervasive sexuality, crude humor, and teen alcohol and drug abuse)AubreyPlaza stars in this coming-of-age comedy about a Miss Goody Two-Shoes who decides to lose her virginity over the summer before she goes off to college. Cast includes Bill Hader, Andy Samberg and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

 

Blue Jasmine (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality and mature themes) Cate Blanchett stars in the title role of this dysfunctional family drama, directed by Woody Allen, about a neurotic,New York City socialite prompted by a life crisis to travel fromNew York toSan Francisco to reconnect with her long-estranged sister (Sally Hawkins). Ensemble cast includes Alec Baldwin, Andrew Dice Clay, Louis C.K., Peter Sarsgaard and Bobby Cannavale.

 

Breaking The Girls (Unrated) Complicated crime thriller about a couple of college coeds (Madeline Zima and Agnes Bruckner) who enter a pact to murder each other’s enemies. Featuring Sam Anderson, Shawn Ashmore and Shanna Collins.

 

Drug War (Unrated) Explosive crime thriller, set inTianjin,China, about a convicted meth dealer (Louis Koo) who fingers members of his former drug cartel in order to avoid the death penalty. With Sun Honglei, Haung Yi and Li Jing. (In Mandarin with subtitles)

 

Frankenstein’s Army (R for profanity, graphic violence and grisly images) Found footage horror flick about a battalion of Russian soldiers assaulted by an army of Nazi zombies created in a lab by a mad scientist (Karel Roden) and unleashed by Hitler in a last gasp to win World War II. Co-starring Joshua Sasse, Robert Gwilym and Alexander Mercury.

 

Neander-Jin (Unrated) Screwball comedy with a Freudian twist about a young woman (Sarah Muehlhause) whose search for the perfect mate ends when she crosses paths with a 10,000-year-old Neanderthal man (Jon Chardiet). Supporting cast features Milton Welsh, Rick Zieff and Norbert Alich.

 

The Time Being (Unrated) Suspense drama revolving around a struggling artist (Wes Bentley) who tries to save his marriage by taking a job doing surveillance work for a reclusive millionaire (Frank Langella) with a hidden agenda. Cast includes Sarah Paulson, Corey Stoll and Ahna O’Reilly.

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