New movies this week
The gist: An exceptionally well-made underdog drama about two brothers who end up fighting each other for an MMA championship. Imagine if both Rocky and Apollo were from the wrong side of the tracks and shared an alcoholic father. PG-13
The cast: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Denzel Whitaker and Nick Nolte.
The buzz: You know MMA has overtaken boxing when even its movies are better. "The family drama resonates strongly with a resolution that, in retrospect, seems like the only way the brothers could have rediscovered blood ties," says the Hollywood Reporter. "Meanwhile their fights are downright compelling."
The gist: An A-list cast deals with a mutating virus that spreads across the globe and kills millions while scientists race to find a cure. And you thought people freaking out about the bird flu was bad. Bonus: Gwyneth Paltrow dies almost immediately. PG-13
The cast: Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Paltrow and Jude Law.
The buzz: Take a break from the manufactured fear you see on the news and become engrossed in this fictional account of something that could really happen. "(Director Steven) Soderbergh knows exactly how to dredge up the dread, showing us in several scenes the many things we touch — including our own faces, noses and mouths — during the course of a day and the dangers they contain," the Arizona Republic points out.
Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star
The gist: A slow coach from Idaho sees his parents in some skin flicks, so he decides that's what he should do for a living, too. Because it's that easy to star in porn, you see. What subtle nuance this yarn must offer! R
The cast: Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci, Stephen Dorff, Don Johnson, Ido Mosseri and Kevin Nealon.
The buzz: No critic has reviewed this one yet. Probably because they're too jealous Adam Sandler and his pack of idiots get paid by Hollywood to make garbage like this.
The gist: Based on true events, this one features a Nebraska police officer who joins the U.N. peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia, only to get fired when she reports contractors are kidnapping underage girls and selling them into the sex trade. Leave it to a Nebraskan to do the right thing. R
The cast: Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Strathairn, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Roxana Condurache.
The buzz: A tough film that will be hard to watch, but is well made. "Director Larysa Kondracki's debut film is unsparing in its portrayal of sexual trafficking in a supposedly civilized world. But it's valiant, too — especially regarding Rachel Weisz's performance as reluctant crusader Kathryn Bolkovac," Newsday lauds.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org