50/50 is not so much about the effects of cancer. In downplaying the medical plight of its protagonist, an ordinary 30-something man named Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, playing a character loosely based on screenwriter Will Reiser’s own experience) who discovers he has cancer and a 50 percent chance of survival, the film finds some genuinely affecting moments exploring the support structure surrounding him. The female characters (i.e., his psychologist (Anna Kendrick) and girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard)) become problematic (Kendrick’s character works until some unfortunate but admittedly sweet romantic feelings develop), but the relationship between Adam and his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), who seems to be taking advantage of his friend’s misfortune until we come to realize the depth of his caring, is truly touching. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Rachel Weisz’ performance as a UN officer in Sarajevo who discovers a sex trafficking ring is the high point of this well-intentioned drama. It’s outraged, but merely in a general way and more about the shadowy military-industrial complex that works to cover up a corrupt system of despicable men, corrupt cops, and violent clients. This raises the age-old question of which is worse: the crime or the cover-up. I’m inclined to lean toward the former, though The Whistleblower disagrees. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Set in a near future where people have grown bored with human beings beating each other for sport, Real Steel is a simple movie about simple pleasures, namely watching robots pound each other into scrap. The fact that the story revolves around the idea of people looking for more carnage in sports seems to point to a self-awareness on the part of John Gatins’ screenplay (loosely based on a short story by Richard Matheson). The human story, about an absentee father (Hugh Jackman) bonding with his son (Daktoa Goyo), is secondary to the fights. The movie’s routine nature is why it’s a near-miss; it hints at something unique beneath the surface, only to dismiss it for convention. My review is here. Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo.
The series once again goes into the past to unravel more of its useless mythology. Paranormal Activity 3 finds the previous movies’ central characters as kids as they are tormented by a demon of some sort. What’s there to be said, really, other than that it’s the same old game of parlor tricks and cheap moments of startles? Available on DVD/Blu-ray Combo.