Another batch of new movies have arrived at the library. Here’s a quick preview of just a couple of the new DVDs available to rent:
Cloud Atlas – The Wachowski Siblings (the directing duo behind the Matrix Trilogy) teamed with director Tom Tykwer to adapt David Mitchell’s award winning book, Cloud Atlas. Like the book, the movie focuses around six intertwined stories, set at different time periods from the 1800’s to 300 years in the future. These stories range from tragic love stories, comedic misadventures, and sci-fi quests. Using a unique twist, the trio of directors chose to use the same ensemble cast throughout each story, often changing the actors’ looks through layers of make-up (to varying degrees of success). This method, while interesting, drew some complaints from critics and movie-goers alike as one story included several white actors in Asian roles , leaving some to feel the make-up used to be offense and playing to stereotypes. The ensemble cast includes the likes of Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Hugo Weaving, and Keith David. While the creative editing and casting are attention-grabbing, some of the stories feel rushed or fall short of the others.
Django Unchained – Much like he did with 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, directorQuentin Tarantino once more pulls inspiration from past movies for his newest feature. Loosely inspired by the Italian styled “Spaghetti” Westerns starring Franco Nero as titular character Django, Tarantino’s version stars Jamie Foxx as a slave freed by a bounty hunter in order to help him track down his next targets. The bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (formerly a dentist of all things) is played to scene stealing perfection by Oscar winner Christoph Waltz. In exchange for the information Shultz seeks, Django asks for help freeing his wife from the clutches of slave owner Calvin Candie (a rare and delightful villain role for Leonardo Dicaprio). Along the way, the pair form a friendship and Schultz soon trains Django to be his partner. Featuring Tarantino’s trademark mixture of kinetic and hyper-violent editing and witty if profanity laced banter, Django Unchained it not for the squeamish or sensitive. However, the acting is superb all around and includes Kerry Washington as Django’s wife and Tarantino regular Samuel L. Jackson as Candie’s conniving house slave.
Jack Reacher – Best-selling author Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher has enjoyed a long running book series and has finally taken the step to the big screen. Adapted from the 9th book in the series, Jack Reacher is directed by Christopher McQuarrie and stars regular collaborator Tom Cruise. McQuarrie, best known as a screenwriter for such films as The Usual Suspects, directs Cruise in this thriller about a former military police investigator and drifter who is unexpectedly brought in to investigate a sniper attack that claimed several innocent lives. Despite his certainty that the man in custody is guilty, Reacher finds himself drawn in by the unfolding mystery surrounding the case. Joining Cruise on screen are Robert Duvall as crotchety gun range owner and reluctant sidekick and acclaimed director Werner Herzog taking an acting turn as the intriguing, shadowy, and criminally under-used villain. While Tom Cruise does not fit the description of Jack Reacher from the books, he provides a performance laced with action and humor that wins the audience over.
(All images courtersy of Amazon.com)