Contraband spends a lot of time with its characters in the opening act. They aren’t dumb, and they aren’t part of a brainless movie, either. Mark Wahlberg heads the cast as Chris Farraday, a former smuggler who’s gone legitimate after starting a family. A family affair brings him back into the criminal world. The cast is solid, playing characters who seem to be one way only to turn out to be the exact opposite. Giovanni Ribisi plays the villain, who’s actually a single father. Ben Foster plays Chris’ best friend who seems a bit too interested in how his buddy’s plan is unfolding. We really appreciate the time with these characters, and the movie doesn’t do anything wrong, really. It’s simply that what it does isn’t all that involving. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Writer/director Ti West spends about half of The Inkeepers winking and nudging to undermine the genre conventions of his story while expecting us to full buy into those same conventions the rest of the time. Honestly, I’m not completely sure whether West’s goal is satirical or sincere, and there’s enough disparity between the characters (A pair of slackers is stuck working in an old inn for the weekend) and the situation (The inn is haunted, or is it?) for that question to weigh down the the former, more successful aspect of it. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
A strong cast brings as much as it can to Pariah, a coming-of-age story about a girl on the verge of adulthood trying to be herself while the people who should be closest to her attempt to make her “normal.” Adepero Oduye (as the girl), Charles Parnell (as the girl’s father), and Kim Wayans (as her mother) give performances better than the material, which hunts for melodramatic struggles instead of revealing the characters within them. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.