Among the new movies that were released Friday, Jan. 4 in theaters throughout the Valley are a drama from “Sopranos” creator David Chase, a drama written by and starring Matt Damon and a thriller from “Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow.
‘Any Day Now’*
Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt play a gay couple who, in the 1970s, fights a biased legal system to keep custody of the abandoned mentally handicapped teenager (Isaac Leyva) that comes to live under their roof. (R – 97 minutes)
“Any Day Now” is a harrowing yet heartbreaking motion picture that is accented by a pair of powerful performances from actors Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt. The new drama from writer/director Travis Fine demonstrates with emotional sincerity the tragic extent to which social injustices are capable of going. There are times when the film feels just a bit too sentimental but, for the most part, the movie’s message and its dramatic resonance combine to make for a piece of entertainment that is as affecting as it is important. The last scene’s many meanings are sure to stay with you. (Grade: B)
*Playing exclusively at Harkins Camelview 5.
Aneurin Barnard plays an agoraphobic father who teams up with a renegade priest (James Cosmo) to save his daughter from the clutches of a gang of twisted feral children who committed an act of violence against his family years earlier. (R – 84 minutes)
Is “Citadel” a supernatural horror flick or one that merely finds its fright from real life? Or is really just a socio-political message movie masquerading as a horror flick? I do not even know for certain and I have watched this muddled mess that makes nary a lick of sense. But regardless of which definitive genre writer/director Ciaran Foy’s Irish import belongs in, it misleads moviegoers and makes them feel nothing but complete and utter disappointment over having to watch something that starts off so excruciatingly slow before eventually evolving into something devoid of any surprises whatsoever. (Grade: F)
*Playing exclusively at Harkins Valley Art.
‘Not Fade Away‘
John Magaro plays a young man who, in 1964 New Jersey, decides to form a rock band with his best friends after the Rolling Stones appear on television. (R – 112 minutes)
“Not Fade Away” is an average movie at best, hampered by an attempt to cram too much story into one motion picture that eventually arrives at a very bizarre and dreamlike conclusion. But its leading actor John Magaro – a.k.a. the young man who several years ago sang a song about having enough joy to go around in an exceptional Christmas commercial for Walmart and Coca-Cola – is anything but average, giving one of the year’s absolute finest performances. Moreover, writer/director David Chase – of “The Sopranos” fame – has an undeniable knack for creating authentic atmospheres, saturating the audience’s senses with a completely convincing time and place. (Grade: C)
Matt Damon plays a corporate salesman who is sent, with his partner (Frances McDormand), to close a key rural town in his company’s expansion plans. What seems like an easy job becomes complicated by a grassroots campaign led by another man (John Krasinski). (R – 106 minutes)
Watching “Promised Land” is a pleasurable experience – perhaps too pleasurable. The new drama – which was directed by Gus Vant Sant and written by its two stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski – is such an old-fashioned film that it completely bypasses the positive qualities for which it was likely aiming and feels too feeble for its message to have any real or lasting impact on moviegoers. This is a story that should get the audience all riled up with complex and conflicting emotions but, instead, it comforts viewers with its extremely altruistic intentions, carrying no more weight than a feather. (Grade: C)
‘Zero Dark Thirty‘*
Chris Pratt, Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton |play an elite team of intelligence and military operatives who, for more than a decade, have been working in secret across the globe, devoting themselves to a single goal – find and eliminate Osama bin Laden. (R – 157 minutes)
The final hour of “Zero Dark Thirty” is earth-shatteringly intense. Unfortunately, the motion picture’s preceding 90 minutes – essentially the entire runtime of most other movies in and of themselves – are deliberately paced, extremely technical and action-starved. Those are by no means bad qualities but they certainly have the potential to disappoint viewers who may have been expecting something similar to director Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker.” The good news is, though, that those who allow the filmmaker to take them on the challenging journey are rewarded with not only an electrifying finale but also an impression of intellectual stimulation. (Grade: B)
*Playing exclusively at Harkins Scottsdale 101.