Full disclosure: my intended movie plan this week was to catch a screening of My Week with Marilyn or maybe that gritty cop thriller Rampart with Woody Harrelson.Â You know, something pleasantly under-the-radar (but not too underground) so I could maintain my indie movie cred.
Instead, I decidedâ€”along with $24 million worth of other American viewers, it seemsâ€”to catch the new Denzel Washington thriller Safe House, andâ€¦it wasn’t that bad.Â Most of the reviews have been fairly unkind (my favorite critics at the Onion AV Club gave it a C+, remarking that the picture â€œdevolves into slick mediocrity,â€ which is a great description, if a touch harsh), but other than an ending that reeks of studio interference and a useless love interest subplot, I found Safe House a thoroughly diverting timewaster.Â Washington remains as charismatic as ever; co-star Ryan Reynolds doesn’t embarrass himself; and director Daniel Espinosa showcases a flair for propulsive and visually interesting B-moviemaking.Â Safe House is preposterous, but enjoyably so, and anyone yearning for the Jerry Bruckheimer action epics of old (before Pirates of the Caribbean turned him kid-friendly) should find a lot to love.
Regarding regaining (apologies for the alliteration.Â Dammit, just did it again) my indie cred, priority #1 for fellow D.C.-ians is catching Metropolis at the AFI Silver on Friday.Â Director Fritz Lang’s visionary silent epic remains the most influential science-fiction film ever made, and the AFI is screening the new 148-minute restoration, which transforms a stunning-if-narratively-incoherent delight into an unqualified masterpiece.Â Required viewing.
For more details, click HERE.
While the E Street Landmark can’t compete with Metropolisâ€”seriously, that movie is like the Holy Grail of modern-day Geek Cultureâ€”it’s offering the very worthwhile Khodorkovsky, a documentary about the Russian oligarch whose crusade against political corruption disintegrated under the weight of massive embezzlement charges.Â Russia has always been a mystery wrapped inside an enigma (nestled in a hot pocket of uncertainty, which was first microwaved in the rays of subterfuge); maybe this film will help make sense of it all.
Find out more on Khodorkovsky HERE.
Finally, the West End Cinema has two shining examples of neo-noir indie adventures.Â First up is Bullhead, a crime drama that takes placeâ€”I kid you notâ€”in the seamy underworld of illegal meat trading.Â That’s not a euphemism for sex or violence-related by-products; I’m talking about cow sold and bought illegally.Â Our hero is a steroid-addicted cattle farmer who finds himself in over his head when a federal agent is killed, and things gets very bad, very fast.Â Wins points for sheer plot originality.
Better still is the aforementioned Rampart.Â Oren Moverman (who co-wrote I’m Not There and directed 2009’s brilliant The Messenger) directs a script from crime novel extraordinaire James Ellroy (of America Tabloid and L.A. Confidential fame); like many of Ellroy’s best works, the story focuses on an exceptionally dirty LAPD officer (Woody Harrelson) whose past sins confront him with a vengeance.Â No less an authority on film than Roger Ebert praised the film, writing that Harrelson â€œreminds [him] of one of the most evil characters in American fiction, Judge Holden in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, a man who likes to torture and kill for no other reason than simply to cause pain.â€Â Anyone familiar with that novel should be excitedâ€”and more than a little terrifiedâ€”to see what menace Harrelson, Ellroy, and Moverman have wrought.
Check out the West End Cinema HERE.
I realize the correct expression is, â€œThat’s the whole kit and caboodle,â€ but it sounds better if you say, â€œThat’s the whole kitten caboodle.â€Â Just a thought.