Movie News & Previews

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Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 16-22: Le Lunchbox Under Heaven’s Transcendence

This is a really strong week — a remarkably strong week. But the odd thing about that is that its strengths all lie in the art titles. Two of those are among the best things I’ve seen this year — the sort of films that will probably be on my Ten Best list come December (hey, we’re to three now!). The mainstream titles are more problematic to say the least. I have, in fact, been told by one who has seen them that one is not very good, one is just plain not good and one is downright awful.

Movie Reviews

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Starring: (Voices) Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jemaine Clement, Andy Garcia

Rio 2

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The Story: A rare blue macaw named Blu and his family head off into the wilds of the Amazon.  The Lowdown: A wholly acceptable, palatable, colorful and unmemorable animated flick.
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Starring: Delphine Seyrig, Jean-Pierre Kérien, Nita Klein, Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée, Claude Sainval

Muriel, or The Time of Return

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In Brief: The third film in World Cinema's monthlong tribute to French director Alain Resnais is also Resnais' third feature — the altogether remarkable and frankly mind-blowing Muriel, or The Time of Return (1963). It is also Resnais' first color film. On the surface, it's the story of an man visiting an old love from his past — an antique dealer who lives with her stepson in the seaside town of Boulogne. It becomes complex in its own right, but the film is really about memory: how it deceives us, how we distort it to our own ends and how it haunts us. And it approaches the idea in a way that nearly reproduces memory. Stunning.
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Starring: Agathe Bonitzer, Mahmud Shalaby, Hiam Abbass. Riff Cohen, Abraham Belaga

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea

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In Brief: The third film from this year's Asheville Jewish Film Festival is a tender and charming epistolary romance between a French Jewish girl (who recently moved to Israel) and a Palestinian boy who finds the girl's message in a bottle that she has her Israeli soldier brother throw into the Gaza Sea. From this note — which questions just how a person could allow him or herself to become a human bomb — a relationship and a kind of romance grows and changes them both. It is much better and more nuanced than you might think. Its only problem is that the girl is by far less interesting than the boy, but it's certainly worth a look.
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Starring: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella

Draft Day

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The Story: An NFL general manager — with his job on the line — feels the pressure on draft day. The Lowdown: A dull, ill-conceived and needlessly melodramatic film of very specialized interests and zero dramatic energy.
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Starring: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Lillete Dunbey, Nakul Vaid, Shruti Bapna

The Lunchbox

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The Story: When a young wife's special lunch for her husband is mistakenly delivered to another, older man, an increasingly intimate correspondence ensues.  The Lowdown: Charming, quietly funny, elegantly made and sometimes heartbreakingly perceptive, The Lunchbox is one of 2014's must-see films. Stars Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur are marvelous.