Rated R for sexuality, graphic violence, grisly images and pervasive profanity
Brad Pitt Stars As Confident Tank Commander In WWII Battle Flick
It is April of 1945, and the Allies are making major inroads across the European theater. However, Adolf Hitler has responded to the attrition in the ranks of his army by exhorting women and children to take up arms in a desperate fight to the death.
This is the state of affairs awaiting Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) when he reachesGermanyafter engagements in Africa,Belgiumand theNetherlands. Sergeant Collier is the commander of aShermantank that is part of a battle-hardened armored division being dispatched deep into enemy territory to help deliver the coup de grace to the Nazis.
We meet Wardaddy during a brief pause in the action taken to refuel, to restock ammo and to replace his recently-deceased “best damn gunner in the ninth battalion.” Now, he must make do with Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a private with no fighting experience just plucked out of the typing pool.
The other members of Collier’s motley crew include tank driver Trini Garcia (Michael Pena), Bible-thumping Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf) and a good ol’ boy who goes by Coon-Ass (Jon Benthal). Their next mission is to rescue some stranded GIs urgently in need of assistance.
But prior to shipping out, Collier wants to make sure his greenhorn is ready for the front. So, he forces him to shoot a captured SS officer in the head to show he has no qualms about killing.
That is the premise established at the outset of Fury, a fairly gruesome adventure written and directed by U.S. Navy veteran David Ayer (Training Day). Fair warning: this is a film you don’t so much watch as endure. Picture the sheer intensity of Saving Private Ryan coupled with the visual capture of The Thin RedLine, the harrowing claustrophobia of Das Boot, and the utter insanity of Apocalypse Now.
Brad Pitt exudes an endearing combination of confidence and charm as a calm leader who proves himself quite capable of generating a genuine camaraderie among his men despite the cramped quarters and constant close brushes of death. Moreover, he exhibits an uncanny ingenuity when forced by circumstances to survive by his wits as their resources dwindle.
The meat grinder that was World War II convincingly portrayed from the point-of-view of a band of brothers who were like sitting ducks stuck in a sardine can.
Excellent (4 stars)
In English and German with subtitles
Running time: 134 minutes
Dear White People
Rated R for profanity, ethnic and sexual preference slurs, sexuality and drug use
Social Satire Takes Sophisticated Look At Race Relations In The Ivy League
The academics are tough enough at Winchester University, a mythical Ivy League institution. It’s too bad that black students there also have to worry about making themselves comfortable socially.
That’s precisely the predicament we find a quartet of African-American undergrads facing at the point of departure of Dear White People, a sophisticated social satire marking the directorial and scriptwriting debut of Justin Simien. Earlier this year, the thought-provoking dramedy won the Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the Sundance Film Festival.
The picture’s protagonists are as different from each other as night and day. Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams) is gay and uncomfortable around his own people because blacks teased him the most about his sexuality back in high school. So, he lives in a predominately-white dorm where he’s ended up being bullied anyway.
Then there’s Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell), a legacy admission toWinchestercourtesy of his father (Dennis Haysbert), an alumnus and the current Dean of Students.Troy’s dating an equally-well connected white girl, Sofia Fletcher (Brittany Curran), the daughter of the school’s President (Peter Syvertsen).
Political activist Samantha White (Tessa Thompson) sits at the other extreme, being a militant sister who lives in the all-black dorm ostensibly serving as a refuge for the “hopelessly Afro-centric.” She also hosts a talk show on the college’s radio school’s station, “Dear White People,” where she indicts Caucasians about everything from their racism to their sense of entitlement.
Finally, we have Coco Conners (Teyonah Parris) who just wants to assimilate into mainstream American culture. In fact, she’s more concerned with whether she might make the cut for the reality-TV show conducting auditions on campus than with challenging the status quo, à la rabble rouser Samantha.
So, the premise is set by establishing that the four lead characters have little in common besides their skin color. And the plot subsequently thickens when Pastiche, a student-run humor publication, decides to throw a Halloween party with an “unleash your inner-Negro” theme.
Now they share the prospect of being stereotyped by white classmates cavorting around in blackface dressed as pimps and gangstas, and as icons like President Obama and Aunt Jemima. En route to a surprising resolution, director Simien pulls a couple of rabbits out of his hat while lacing his dialogue with pithy lines (“Learn to modulate your blackness up or down depending on the crowd and what you want from them.”) and touching on a litany of hot button issues ranging from Affirmative Action to Tyler Perry.
A delightful dissection of the Ivy League that stirs the pot in the way most folks mean when they a call for a national discussion of race.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 106 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening October 17, 2014
The Best Of Me (PG-13 for sexuality, violence, brief profanity and some drug use) Romance drama based on the Nicholas Sparks best-seller of the same name and revolving around the reunion of a couple of high school sweethearts (James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan) for the first time in years when they return to their hometown for a friend’s funeral. With Liana Liberato, Luke Bracey and Caroline Goodall.
The Book Of Life (PG for mild action, rude humor, mature themes and scary images) Animated adventure about a young man (Diego Luna) who finds himself torn between fulfilling his family’s expectations and following his heart. Ensemble voice cast featuring Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Danny Trejo, Ron Perlman and Cheech.
America The Beautiful 3 (Unrated) Latest installment in Darryl Roberts’ series of incendiary documentaries indicts pop culture’s sexualization of today’s youth.
Birdman (R for sexuality, brief violence and pervasive profanity) Midlife crisis dramedy about a washed-up matinee idol’s (Michael Keaton) attempt to stage a comeback on the Broadway stage. With Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis.
Camp X-Ray (R for profanity and brief nudity) Unlikely-buddies drama about a prison guard (Kristen Stewart) atGuantanamoBay who fails to follow protocol by befriending a suspected terrorist (Peyman Moaadi) detained there for eight years. With Cory Michael Smith, Tara Holt, Marco Khan and John Carroll Lynch.
The Culture High (Unrated) Pot doc debating the pros and cons of making marijuana legal. Featuring commentary by Snoop Doggy Dogg, Sir Richard Branson and Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Felony (Unrated) Aussie crime drama, set inSydney, revolving around three police detectives (Joel Edgerton, Jai Courtney and Tom Wilkinson) involved in the cover-up of a cop’s culpability in a car accident that left a kid riding a bike in a coma. With Melissa George, Sarah Roberts and Rosie Lourde.
A Matter Of Faith (PG for mature themes) Christian-oriented drama about the Born Again father (Jay Pickett) of a college freshman (Jordan Trovillion) who decides to intervene when his daughter (Harry Anderson) becomes influenced by a biology professor pushing the theory of evolution as the only explanation for the origins of life. Support cast includes Jay Pickett, Chandler Macocha and Clarence Gilyard, Jr.
Private Violence (Unrated) Domestic abuse documentary highlighting the case of a female cop fromOklahoma who was abducted by her estranged husband and beaten for four days while being held captive in the cab of his truck.
A Requiem For Syrian Refugees (Unrated) Black & white exposé detailing the day-to-day ordeal of traumatized refugees trying to survive as they flee the violence of the Syrian civil war. (In Kurdish with subtitles)
Rudderless (R for profanity) William H. Macy makes his directorial debut with this bittersweet drama revolving around a grieving advertising executive (Billy Crudup) who forms a rock band in order to play songs written by his recently-deceased son. With Macy, Anton Yelchin, Laurence Fishburne, Selena Gomez, Felicity Huffman and Jamie Chung.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (R for profanity, explicit sexuality, graphic violence and grisly images) Remake of the 1976 slasher flick about a copycat who embarks on a murderous rampage 65 years after a hooded serial killer terrorized the same town. Co-starring Addison Timlin, Gary Cole, Edward Herrmann and Denis O’Hare.
Watchers Of The Sky (Unrated) Reverential retrospective revisiting the legal career of Ralph Lemkin (1900-1959), the attorney credited with coining the term “genocide” and laying the groundwork for the Nuremburg trials of Nazi war criminals.
Young Ones (R for profanity and violence) Futuristic sci-fi, set in a dire dystopia with a dwindling amount of water and other natural resources where we find a resourceful teen (Nicholas Hoult) willing to go to great lengths to provide for his thirsty and starving family. With Elle Fanning, Michael Shannon and Kodi Smit-McPhee.