Kam on Film: ‘The Equalizer,’ ‘Hector And The Search For Happiness’ and What’s New In Theaters Kam Williams September 24, 2014 Columns The Equalizer Sony Pictures Rated R for graphic violence, sexual references and pervasive profanity Denzel Does Vigilante In Adaptation Of ’80s TV Series On the surface, Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a perfectly-pleasant, hail fellow well met. By day, the affable widower is employed as a sales associate at a hardware superstore where he jokes with co-workers who call him “Pops.” Evenings, he retires to a modest apartment in a working-class,Bostoncommunity, although bouts of insomnia often have him descending to a nearby diner to read a book into the wee hours of the morning. The dingy joint looks a lot like the dive depicted by Edward Hopper in the classic painting “Nighthawks.” Among the seedy haunt’s habitués is Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a provocatively-dressed prostitute who hangs out there between clients. Robert takes a personal interest in the troubled teen, a recent immigrant whose real name is Alina. He soon learns that she’d rather be pursuing a musical career than sleeping with stranger after stranger. Trouble is she’s under the thumb of Slavi (David Meunier), a sadistic pimp who’ll stop at nothing to keep a whore in check. A critical moment arrives the night she arrives in the restaurant and hands Robert her new demo tape while trying to hide a black eye. But he becomes less interested in the CD than in the whereabouts of the creep who gave her the shiner. What neither Teri nor anybody else in town knows is that Robert’s a retired spy who had cultivated the proverbial set of deadly skills over the course of his career. At this juncture, the mild-mannered retiree reluctantly morphs into an anonymous vigilante more than willing to dole out a bloody brand of street justice on behalf of Teri and other vulnerable crime victims with seemingly no recourse. Thus unfolds The Equalizer, a riveting, relatively-gruesome adaptation of the popular 1980s TV series. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, this version is actually more reminiscent of Death Wish (1974), as this picture’s protagonist behaves less like the television show’s British gentleman than the brutal avenging angel portrayed on the big screen by Charles Bronson. Considerable credit must go to Oscar winner Mauro Fiore’s (Avatar) visually-captivating cinematography for capturing Boston in a way which is somehow both stylish and haunting. Nevertheless, the eye-pleasing panoramas simply serve as a backdrop for Denzel who is even better here than in his Oscar-winning collaboration with Fuqua for Training Day. Revenge as a dish best served cold by a sleep-deprived, diner patron equalizer! Excellent (4 stars) In English and Russian with subtitles Running time: 131 minutes Hector And The Search For Happiness Relativity Media Rated R for profanity and brief nudity Rollicking Road Comedy Chronicles Eccentric Shrink’s Crazy Quest For Joy Hector (Simon Pegg) is a funny duck, as they say. The eccentric neat freak is lucky to have a gorgeous girlfriend like Clara (Rosamund Pike) who’s willing to put up with his odd requests, such as arranging everything in perfect order, from his socks to his sandwiches. He’s even more fortunate to have a thriving psychiatric practice, given the barely-contained contempt he routinely exhibits for the folks lying on his couch. A moment of truth arrives the day one of them (Veronica Ferres) finally summons up the courage to tell him to his face that he’s transparent, inauthentic, and just going through the motions. Conceding that he’s become so jaded that he isn’t helping his equally-miserable patients anymore, Hector decides to embark solo on a globe-spanning, spiritual quest for the fulfillment that has somehow escaped him. After all, how could he not have joy, when surrounded by all the trappings of success? Hector’s plans have Clara concerned about whether the relationship is on shaky ground, since she’s been reluctant to start a family and she’s also aware that he has an ex (Toni Collette) in the U.S. he still cares about. Unfolding like the alpha male answer to Eat Pray Love (2010), Hector And The Search For Happiness is an alternately introspective and action-oriented travelogue played mostly for laughs. Simon Pegg exhibits an endlessly-endearing naïvete as the peripatetic protagonist, whether misreading the flirtations of a prostitute (Ming Zhao) inChina or taking a while to realize that his cab has been carjacked by the underlings of an African crime boss (Akin Omotoso). Such perils notwithstanding, our intrepid hero persists in posing his pressing question “What is happiness?” at each port-of-call as he circumnavigates the globe. Taking copious notes on a writing pad, he records the answers he receives, like “Being loved for who you are,” “Answering your calling,” and “Feeling completely alive.” Eventually, Hector experiences that elusive “Eureka!” epiphany he needs so dearly, which allows him to rush home revitalized to Clara and a career and clients who might not be so annoying after all. A feel-good meditation on the meaning of life, guaranteed to leave you counting your many blessings as you walk up the aisle. Excellent (4 stars) In English, French and German with subtitles Running time: 114 minutes OPENING THIS WEEK Kam’s Kapsules: For movies opening September 26, 2014 The Boxtrolls (PG for action, peril and mild crude humor) Animated fantasy revolving around an orphan (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) raised in a cave by trash-collecting trolls targeted by an evil exterminator (Ben Kingsley). Voice cast includes Elle Fanning, Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Pride (R for profanity and brief sexuality) Historical drama recounting real events unfolding in theUnited Kingdom during the summer of 1984 when a group of gay activists rallied to the side of striking coal miners. Ensemble cast includes Bill Night, Imelda Staunton, Paddy Considine, Andrew Scott and Dominic West. Advance Style (Unrated) Aging gracefully is the focus of this documentary chronicling the fashion sense of someManhattan socialites over 60 who are challenging the conventional cultural assumption equating beauty and youth. Believe Me (PG-13 for profanity) Buddy comedy about a broke college senior (Alex Russell) who enlists the assistance of a few classmates to raise his tuition by forming a fake charity designed to fleece gullible Christians. Cast includes Nick Offerman, Christopher McDonald, Zachary Knighton, Miles Fisher, Sinqua Walls and Johanna Braddy. Days And Nights (Unrated) Dysfunctional family drama, loosely based on Chekhov’s play “The Seagull,” revolving around the havoc wreaked by reckless desire indulged over a holiday weekend at a retreat in rural New England. Ensemble cast includes Katie Holmes, Allison Janney, William Hurt, Jean Reno and Ben Whishaw. Good People (R for profanity and graphic violence) Crime thriller about an American couple (Kate Hudson and James Franco), living in London, who end up on the run from mobsters after finding a fortune in cash hidden in their dead tenant’s apartment. With Omar Sy, Tom Wilkinson and Anna Friel. Jimi: All Is By My Side (R for profanity, sexual references and drug use) Oscar-winning scriptwriter John Ridley (for 12 Years A Slave) wrote and directed this rocktrospective chronicling Jimi Hendrix’s (Andre 3000) life in London prior to the release of his debut album. Featuring Imogen Poots, Hayley Atwell and Ruth Negga. Lilting (Unrated) Romance drama, set inLondon, where a Chinese-Cambodian mom (Pei-pei Cheng) mourns the untimely death of her son (Andrew Leung) with the help of the gay lover (Ben Whishaw) she never knew he had. With Peter Bowles, Naomi Christie and Shane Salter. The Little Bedroom (Unrated) Unlikely buddies drama about an elderly widower (Michel Bouquet) who finds himself befriended by the grieving young nurse (Florence Loiret Caille) assigned to care for him after a bad fall. Cast includes Joel Delsaut, Valerie Bodson and Eric Caravaca. (In English and French with subtitles) Plastic (R for sexuality, nudity, drug use, graphic violence and pervasive profanity) Fact-based tale about a couple of British hackers (Ed Speleers and Will Poulter) whose multimillion-dollar credit card scheme lands them in the crosshairs of a sadistic gangster (Thomas Kretschmann) whose identity they stole. Smiling Through The Apocalypse (Unrated) Reverential biopic about Harold Hayes (1926-1989), editor-in-chief of Esquire Magazine, at the height of its heyday in the ’60s. Featuring commentary by staff writers Gore Vidal, Tom Wolfe, Nora Ephron and Gay Talese. The Song (PG-13 for mature themes including substance abuse, crude references and smoking) Musical drama examining the toll exacted upon an aspiring singer’s (Alan Powell) marriage after a tune he wrote for his wife (Ali Faulkner) turns him into a superstar. Featuring Danny Vinson, Aaron Benward Jude Ramsey. The Two Faces Of January (PG-13 for and smoking) Adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith best seller of the same name, set in Athens in 1962, about a couple of American sightseers (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst) who, against their better judgment, help their tour guide (Oscar Isaac) cover up a murder. With Daisy Bevan, David Warshofsky and Ozan Tas. (In English, Turkish and Greek with subtitles) Two-Night Stand (R for sexuality, profanity and drug use) Romantic comedy about two strangers (Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton) forced by a snowstorm to share another night between the sheets after a disastrous one-night stand. Featuring Victor Cruz, Berto Colon and Jessica Szohr. 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