WHAT’S NEW IN THEATERS THIS WEEK
Maybe if you're 20 years old and high in your dorm room with your friends, the platitudes presented here might seem profound. Anyone else in his or her right mind should recognize it for what it is: a bloated, pseudo-intellectual, self-indulgent slog through some notions that are really rather facile. Ooh, we're all interconnected and our souls keep meeting up with each other over the centuries, regardless of race, gender or geography. We're individual drops of water but we're all part of the same ocean. That is deep, man. Perhaps it all worked better on the page. "Cloud Atlas" comes from the best-selling novel of the same name by David Mitchell that, in theory, might have seemed unfilmable, encompassing six stories over a span of 500 years and including some primitive dialogue in a far-away future. Sibling directors Lana and Andy Wachowski — who actually have come up with some original, provocative ideas of their own in the "Matrix" movies (well, at least the first one) — working with "Run Lola Run" director Tom Tykwer, have chopped up the various narratives and intercut between them out of order. The A-list actors who comprise the cast (including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent) play multiple parts across the various stories and in elaborate makeup that's often laughable. But rather than serving as a satisfying, cohesive device, this strategy feels like a distracting gimmick. R for violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use. 172 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
James Patterson titled his 12th Alex Cross crime novel simply "Cross." The filmmakers who adapted it expanded the title to "Alex Cross." They might as well have gone for broke and called it "Tyler Perry's Madea's Stab at Expanding Her-His Hollywood Marketability as James Patterson's Alex Cross." Perry's name will draw his fans in. Patterson's name will draw his fans in.
Artfully constructed but hollow at its core, "Nobody Walks" makes it impossible to stop watching while simultaneously making it impossible to care about what's happening. It's a frustrating little paradox. This languid slice of Los Angeles life features an appealing cast of actors playing characters who are all surface and impulse — someone is constantly coming onto someone else — but their actions seem to carry low stakes.
Given that it's based on the true story of a man with polio who spends most of his time in an iron lung, this is not as painfully heavy-handed as it might sound. And given that it's about this man's nervous attempts to lose his virginity at age 38, it's also not as obnoxiously wacky as it might sound.
A movie about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis probably doesn't sound like it would be a laugh riot — or should be — but that's just one of the many ways in which this is a glorious, gripping surprise. Directing his third feature, Ben Affleck has come up with a seamless blend of detailed international drama and breathtaking suspense, with just the right amount of dry humor to provide context and levity. He shows a deft handling of tone, especially in making difficult transitions between scenes in Tehran, Washington and Hollywood, but also gives one of his strongest performances yet in front of the camera as the film's star. It's exciting to see the confidence with which Affleck expands his ambition and scope as a filmmaker. "Argo" reveals his further mastery of pacing and storytelling, even as he juggles complicated set pieces, various locations and a cast featuring 120 speaking parts. Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin are among the excellent supporting cast. R for language and some violent images. 120 minutes. Four stars out of four.
HERE COMES THE BOOM
This comedy starring Kevin James as a tubby science teacher who becomes a mixed martial arts sensation is every bit as ridiculous as it looks. That's not such a bad thing for the movie, whose makers embrace the fact that they're essentially doing a live-action cartoon. Co-writer James and director Frank Coraci assemble a likable gang of oddballs that make it kind of work. PG for bouts of MMA sports violence, some rude humor and language. 104 minutes. Two stars out of four.
In his second movie, Irish playwright Martin McDonagh has mangled together a comic, self-aware revenge flick that's half Guy Ritchie, half Charlie Kaufman. It's manic and messy, and McDonagh — whose previous film was the delightfully grim, more centered "In Bruges" — doesn't yet have the visual command for a sprawling, madcap tale as this. But it's also filled with deranged wit and unpredictable genre deconstruction that make it, if not quite a success, a fascinating mutt of a movie. Colin Farrell plays Marty, a hard-drinking screenwriter in Los Angeles and a clear stand-in for McDonagh. He has his movie title — "Seven Psychopaths" — but little else. He gets sucked into the hijinks of his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), whose dog-napping scheme turns bloody when Billy and his friend Hans (Christopher Walken) swipe the Shih Tzu of a pooch-loving gangster (Woody Harrelson). The cast, which also includes a bunny-cradling Tom Waits, is great, but Rockwell — enthusiastic and deranged — is exceptional.. R for strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality, nudity and some drug use. 110 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
The title refers not so much to the nearly perpetual state of inebriation that a young husband and wife put themselves in but rather to the way the wife finds her existence truly shattered when she tries to get sober. Staying at least slightly drunk all the time is easy, as Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character knows well. It's a blissfully ignorant existence, one big party. But once you stop drinking, the reality you've shoved aside returns with a vengeance. Winstead ("Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," ''Scott Pilgrim vs. the World") gets to show the full range of her abilities in her heaviest dramatic role yet as a first-grade teacher who finds her marriage and her work in jeopardy when she tries to stop drinking. Aaron Paul of "Breaking Bad" does the best he can with an underwritten role as her hard-partying husband. R for alcohol abuse, language, some sexual content and brief drug use. 85 minutes. Two stars out of four.
'Paranormal Activity 4' earns $29M at box office
The Associated Press
The latest chapter in the "Paranormal Activity" saga didn't capture as much attention at the box office as previous films.
Paramount's "Paranormal Activity 4" debuted at No. 1 with $29 million, a big drop from the $40 million and $50 million opening weekends of the past two installments.
The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Hollywood.com are:
1. "Paranormal Activity 4," Paramount, $29,003,866, 3,412 locations, $8,501 average, $29,003,866, one week.
2. "Argo," Warner Bros., $16,445,475, 3,247 locations, $5,065 average, $43,011,964, two weeks.
3. "Taken 2," Fox, $13,260,870, 3,489 locations, $3,801 average, $105,832,339, three weeks.
4. "Hotel Transylvania," Sony, $13,001,434, 3,384 locations, $3,842 average, $118,522,389, four weeks.
5. "Alex Cross," Summit, $11,396,768, 2,539 locations, $4,489 average, $11,396,768, one week.
6. "Sinister," Summit, $8,815,475, 2,542 locations, $3,468 average, $31,735,643, two weeks.
7. "Here Comes the Boom," Sony, $8,407,201, 3,014 locations, $2,789 average, $23,131,529, two weeks.
8. "Pitch Perfect," Universal, $6,756,430, 2,660 locations, $2,540 average, $45,516,778, four weeks.
9. "Frankenweenie," Disney, $4,329,358, 2,362 locations, $1,833 average, $28,238,779, three weeks.
10. "Looper," Sony, $4,202,687, 2,223 locations, $1,891 average, $57,842,819, four weeks.
11. "Seven Psychopaths," CBS Films, $3,273,480, 1,480 locations, $2,212 average, $9,161,472, two weeks.
12. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," Summit, $2,153,247, 745 locations, $2,890 average, $9,123,872, five weeks.
13. "End of Watch," Open Road Films, $826,809, 751 locations, $1,101 average, $37,895,571, five weeks.
14. "Trouble With the Curve," Warner Bros., $729,354, 925 locations, $788 average, $34,084,572, five weeks.
15. "Atlas Shrugged: Part II," Atlas Distribution, $613,889, 945 locations, $650 average, $2,859,980, two weeks.
16. "The Master," Weinstein Co., $520,677, 412 locations, $1,264 average, $14,738,213, six weeks.
17. "House at the End of the Street," Relativity, $468,298, 746 locations, $628 average, $30,782,862, five weeks.
18. "Brave," Disney, $421,577, 277 locations, $1,522 average, $235,044,709, 18 weeks.
19. "The Dark Knight Rises," Warner Bros., $359,509, 345 locations, $1,042 average, $446,764,067, 14 weeks.
20. "Student of the Year," Eros International, $326,508, 106 locations, $3,080 average, $326,508, one week.