Movie Mondays: Big Stars, Little Movies

~posted by Frank

For every blockbuster that makes hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office, there are dozens of small films that make a fraction of that. Many go unnoticed, even those that have star power attached to them. These films released in the past year may have flown under the radar, but they are worth a checkout.

The Disappearance of Eleanor RigbyJessica Chastain (two-time Oscar nominee for The Help and Zero Dark Thirty) and Conor (James McAvoy, Golden Globe nominee for Atonement and star of X-Men) are a couple whose marriage, and lives, are on the line following a tragedy that is slowly revealed. There are actually three versions of this film: “Her” tells Eleanor’s side of the story; “Him” for Conor’s side; or you can watch “Them” which condenses both sides into a single film. All three versions are available on the DVD, though only “Them” can be streamed on hoopla.

Slow West. It’s 1870. Michael Fassbender (Oscar/Golden Globe nominee for 12 Years a SlaveGolden Globe nominee for Shame) is Silas, a drifter who joins forces and travels with Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a 16-year-old Scot whose looking for the love of his life, who left for America to start a new life with her father. This new look at the old west shines a new (or revisionist) light on the cowboys, pioneers and native peoples of frontier America through unusual storytelling and interesting cinematography.

Black Sea. Jude Law (Oscar nominee for Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley) is a submarine captain who loses his job in a dwindling industry. When he’s approached by a shadowy businessman to charter a sub in search of sunken boat loaded with gold, he recruits a ragtag group of men in search of treasure, encountering obstacles in the open sea and from within the ranks of the vessel. It’s a tense and claustrophobic ride from director Kevin Macdonald, whose work includes the thrilling The Last King of Scotland.

Son of a Gun. Ewan McGregor (Golden Globe nominee for Moulin Rouge! and
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) is Brendan, a notorious criminal in Australia’s prison system who befriends 19-year-old JR (Brenton Thwaites) and enlists his help to break himself out of prison when JR is released. The prison break is a success, and the two men join forces on a gold heist. What could go wrong? A lot. It’s as gritty as you would expect a prison movie to be, but some fine acting and exciting action sequences make it a worthy flick.

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