127 Hours (2010)
Get Low (2010)
Last Train Home (2010)
Waiting for “Superman” (2010)
Lots of good stuff on the new releases shelf this week! Deserving of special note is Get Low. Starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek, it’s a quirky, low-key tale about a Depression-era Tennessee backwoodsman who throws himself a funeral while he’s still alive. It’s a moving tale of regret, confession and redemption.
The best bet for family audiences is Megamind, DreamWorks’ spoof of the Superman mythos, with Will Ferrell as a Lex Luthor/Brainiac-style villain, Brad Pitt as the lantern-jawed hero Megaman, and Tina Fey as the Lois Lane figure. Also, look for Disney’s classic Bambi, now on DVD — one of the finest films ever made for very young children.
For older audiences, a couple of fact-inspired adventure stories — one moving like a freight train, the other solid as a rock. Unstoppable stars Denzel Washington and Star Trek’s Chris Pine as working-class heroes running down a runaway freight train. It’s far from perfect, but likable stars and a strong premise carry it to the end of the line.
Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, starring James Franco as real-life adventurer Aron Ralston, is a far stronger film — but not for the faint of heart! A grueling survival story about a Utah wilderness ramble gone bad, the film pits the self-reliant Ralston against an implacable foe: a fallen boulder pinning his arm. The cost is horrific, and his rugged individualism isn’t the only thing he loses.
Finally, a couple of remarkable documentaries. Waiting for “Superman” takes a hard look at the state of American public education, indicting some surprising targets, including the teachers’ unions and the Democratic Party. And Last Train Home takes the annual Chinese New Year holiday, which plunges China’s cities into chaos every year as 130 million migrant workers travel back to their rural homes, as a point of departure for examining tensions in modern Chinese life.
Content advisory: 127 Hours: A harrowing, graphic amputation sequence; sexual content in flashbacks (nothing explicit), including a nonmarital bedroom scene and a scene involving group nudity; much obscene language and limited profanity. Mature viewing; discretion advised. Get Low: Brief violence; references to an adulterous relationship and an act of murderous violence; at least one profanity; other mature themes, especially relating to death. Teens and up. Last Train Home: Domestic conflict; some obscenity. Teens and up. Megamind: Animated action violence; a few rude phrases. Fine family viewing. Unstoppable: Disaster-style peril and action; references to marital troubles; a few profanities and some crude words. Teens and up. Waiting for “Superman”: A few instances of bad language and mature references. Not really for kids. Bambi: Some menacing sequences and stressful themes, including the offscreen death of a mother. Fine family viewing.