Posted: October 4, 2013 at 3:39 a.m.
This Is the End, directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (R, 107 minutes)
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express) assembled a lineup of celebrity pals to play themselves (more or less) at a party at James Franco’s palatial mansion that culminates with the apparent end of the world. Often very funny, with some moments of downtime in between, and quite filthy, This Is the End is as much fun for the chance to spot cameos as it is to watch the players scheme - more and more desperately - on ways to be chosen as one of those Raptured.
It’s also an ingenious, if somewhat too long, examination of the perception of celebrities as vapid, self-involved dunderheads who are so pampered that they accept hero worship as their due.
Franco plays himself, as do other familiar faces such as Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel (wild-eyed and much more appealing than usual), Danny McBride (brutish as usual), Craig Robinson, Rihanna, Michael Cera (obnoxious), and Emma Watson. Keep an eye out for an all-too-brief appearance by Channing Tatum; you probably won’t get to see him in a role like this again.
The Blu-ray combo pack features deleted scenes, a gag reel, a blooper reel, the original short film that inspired the movie, and five featurettes that explore the visual effects in the film, show how the party scene at Franco’s house came together, and provide a behind-the-scenes look at how the cast members came to play what might be called unusual versions of themselves and taking viewers behind the scenes with cast as they reflect on the unique acting process of playing versions of themselves.
From Here to Eternity (not rated, 118 minutes) This is the 60th anniversary of the multi-Oscar-winning 1953 war drama that contains the famously passionate lying-in-the-surf scene between Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster.It’s set on an Oahu Army base just before the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, where an Army private (Montgomery Clift) is treated like a misfit for refusing to put his boxing skills to use on his unit’s team. Then there is the problem of his captain’s wife, troubled Karen Holmes (Kerr), and tough second in command Sgt. Milton Warden (Lancaster), who are falling in love.
With Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed (who both won Oscars in this), Jack Warden, Claude Akins, Ernest Borgnine; directed by Fred Zinnemann.
Despicable Me 2 (PG, 98 minutes) Everybody liked Despicable Me, a sweet, funny animated story of a villain named Gru (voice of Steve Carell) who abandons a life of crime to take on the role of being a father. This sequel is clever, but its hero has lost some of his feistiness. At least he gets to meet a girl, although she’s an anti-villain agent named Lucy (voice of Kristen Wiig) who needs Gru’s help in tracking down the origins of a horseshoe magnet that’s pulling everyone and everything into the sky. With the voices of Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Steve Coogan, Russell Brand; directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud.
The Iceman (R, 105 minutes) Ariel Vromen directs this gritty bio-pic that traces the career of New York contract killer/family guy Richard Kuklinski (a memorably super-powered performance by Michael Shannon). After convincing his very Catholic wife Deborah Pellicotti (Winona Ryder) that he works in the finance department of Disney when he in fact produces and pirates porn movies, Polish-American Kuklinski moves on to become an enforcer for local mobster Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta). As he starts to climb the ladder of success in his violent role with the New Jersey underworld, the strange contrast between what appears to be a devoted father and husband and a brutally efficient killer becomes curiously clear. With Chris Evans (as fellow psychopath Robert Pronge), James Franco, David Schwimmer.
Underground: The Julian Assange Story (not rated, 89 minutes) This Australian television film, released in 2012, was not approved by WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, nor was there any collaboration between the filmmakers and the Assanges or anyone from WiliLeaks during the making of the film. Still, it’s reported that Assange had a “very favorable response” to the movie. Set in 1989, it stars Alex Williams as Assange who, along with two friends, hacks into some of the world’s most secretive organizations. At the urging of the FBI, the Australian Federal Police try to catch them, setting up a lively pursuit through the electronic underground of Melbourne. With Rachel Griffiths, Anthony LaPaglia; directed by Robert Connolly.
MovieStyle, Pages 31 on 10/04/2013