Gargoyle guide to the week in entertainment, Jan. 26-Feb. 1
Published: Monday, January 26, 2009 - 4:54pm
The Boss is back this week with a new album, and according to many critics, Bruce Springsteen hasn't sounded this good in years. Will Fernandez takes a look at that and other new releases in music, including the latest from indie-rock darlings Franz Ferdinand. Meanwhile, "The Wrestler" finally opens in C-U, and plenty of new DVDs and video games will be vying for your time and money.
MOVIES OPENING IN C-U THIS WEEK
Rated R, dir. Darren Aronofsky
Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was once one of the most popular professional wrestlers. Twenty years later, he's left trying to evaluate the condition of his life. Randy decides to build stronger relationships in his life, whether it's reconnecting with his estranged daughter or starting a romance with an exotic dancer. "The Wrestler" is a drama centered on Randy's journey, which will eventually lead him back to the ring for the comeback of a lifetime. Last week Rourke received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Randy. The film has been in limited release since December and opens Friday in Champaign at Boardman's Art Theatre.
Rated PG-13, dir. Charles Guard & Thomas Guard
After the devastating loss of her mother, Anna Rydell (Emily Browning) returns from a short stay in a mental home to her sister, Alex (Arielle Kebel), her father (David Straitharn), and his new girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks). All is not right as Anna realizes that her traumatic nightmares might be real and her stepmother's unkindness might be more than the typical new-family angst. "The Uninvited" is a remake of Kim Ji-woon’s 2003 horror thriller, "A Tale of Two Sisters."
Rated PG-13, dir. Pierre Morel
Bryan (Liam Neeson) is a former secret agent. When his daughter is kidnapped while following a U2 tour in Paris, he sets off on a journey to retrieve her before she is sold into the slave trade. What follows is a heroic journey across Europe where Bryan is forced to use the skills he has learned from his time as a government operative, in order to find his daughter while evading her captors before time runs out.
"New In Town"
Rated PG-13, dir. Jonas Elmer
A bustling executive from Miami, Lucy Hill (Renee Zellweger) is assigned to manage a blue-collar plant in a small town in Minnesota. The initial culture shock proves to take a toll as she has trouble adjusting to the cold climate and icy reception from the townspeople. As Lucy gets to know the town, she begins to find a place for herself. But when she's ordered to close the plant, cutting off the livelihood of most of the townspeople, Hill is faced with tough decisions over what's really more important: career or friendship?
Laura's Pick: These all look ridiculously mediocre.
NEW CD RELEASES IN STORES THIS WEEK
"Working On A Dream"
The Boss is back with his 16th studio album, "Working On A Dream," and everything seems to be going his way. With a hit song from the Darren Aronofsky film "The Wrestler," a new album, and a halftime performance on national TV for Super Bowl XLIII, Bruce and the E Street Band seem to be as hot as ever. After an election season in which Springsteen put on free concert after free concert for the Obama campaign, his newest album shares his joy and passion for the time we are living in. This could very well be the next great rock album, and even Rolling Stone compares it almost evenly to Springsteen's legendary "Born To Run." The Boss is again No. 1.
"Tonight: Franz Ferdinand"
Franz Ferdinand have been one of the most talked-about alternative bands in the past few years. After two albums that both were insanely catchy (2004's "Franz Ferdinand" and 2005's "You Can Have It So Much Better"), they are apparently heading in more of a rock/dance album direction than their previous Brit punk sound. No matter what the direction, Franz Ferdinand are sure to be on everyone's iPod for 2009.
Alternative rock one-hit wonders happen all the time. Here is hoping that Hoobastank will make a better (or catchier) song than their 2004 hit, "The Reason." Band members have said they set a high standard for this album and that it might be one of their best works. Let's hope so.
Will's Pick: Finally! The first good album of 2009 has been released this week with Springsteen's "Working On A Dream." This is a must-buy for Springsteen fans and also for any fan of real rock 'n' roll.
NEW DVD RELEASES IN STORES THIS WEEK
"Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Rated: PG-13, dir. Woody Allen
Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), two Americans, decide to spend their summer holiday in Barcelona. Each woman is different: one is engaged, while the other is highly sexual. Both Americans become involved with a Spanish painter, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who is still involved with his former wife, Maria (Penélope Cruz). The movie is a comedy about love and what blind fools it makes us. Cruz's performance as Maria just earned her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.
"Pride and Glory"
Rated: R, dir. Gavin O’Connor
This is a drama about the New York City Police Department starring Colin Farrell. The film follows a family whose men have been in service for generations. But, how do you choose your loyalties? A man must chose between investigating a case involving his brother-in-law and big brother, or covering up for his family and not doing his job.
Rated: R, dir. Guy Ritchie
An action-packed comedy involving sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll set in London. From IMDb: "When a Russian mobster sets up a real estate scam that generates millions of pounds, various members of London's criminal underworld pursue their share of the fortune." Co-stars the great Tom Wilkinson as gangster Lenny Cole and Thandie Newton (last seen playing Condi Rice in Oliver Stone's "W") as crooked accountant Stella.
"The Lucky Ones"
Rated: R, dir. Neil Burger
Three soldiers (Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams, Michael Peña) return from the Iraq War and are supposed to fly out of New York City … until a power outage halts the city that never sleeps. They decide that they must get to their respective destinations, so they rent a minivan and set out across the country on a very alternative route. As they travel the U.S., they encounter macho Texans, hormonal teenagers, and fellow American soldiers.
Rated: PG-13, dir. Peter Cattaneo
This movie is about an '80s drummer, Robert "Fish" Fishman (Rainn Wilson), who was once really good, but his ego got him kicked out of his band. Living in a dream world for many years after his sacking, his nephew gives him the opportunity to shine again.
Rated: R, dir. Deb Hagan
Three high school seniors (Drake Bell, Andrew Caldwell, Kevin Covais) decide to visit a prospective college. While looking at academics, they also decide to check out the fraternities. The boys end up being humiliated by the rowdiest frat brothers on the campus! The problem will only intensify when the trio becomes the subject of much affection from really hot sorority girls. How will these mere high school students react to the scary frat boys?
Rated: NR, dir. Guy Moshe
Patrick (Ron Livingston) is an American dealer of stolen goods and cards who has been hiding out in Cambodia for several years now. Holly (Thuy Nguyen) is a 12-year-old Cambodian prostitute. Holly was sold at a high price to a child trafficker for her virginity. Patrick, who is disgusted, sets off on a journey to bring her to safety.
Eleni's Pick: Although I am not generally a Woody Allen fan, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" looks pretty good, or "Holly."
NEW VIDEO GAME RELEASES IN STORES THIS WEEK
Namco Bandai Games
"Afro Samurai" is a hack-and-slash game based on the manga and anime series of the same name. It tells the story of Afro Samurai (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, reprising his role from the anime series), who tries to avenge his father's death. "Afro Samurai" costs $59.99 for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
"MLB Front Office Manager"
Take the role of a baseball general manager and bring your team to success. As a GM, you will be faced with decisions such as initiating trades, developing rookies, and much more. "MLB Front Office Manager" costs $39.99 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.
"Rygar: The Battle of Argus"
Living in the Greek mythological world, Rygar is a member of the Argus infantry chosen to fight the Titans. Along with his legendary shield-like weapon the Diskarmor, Rygar is called upon to save the Princess Harmonia from the Titans. "Rygar: The Battle of Argus" costs $39.99 for the Wii.
Gordon's Pick: Sigh, nothing good this week again. Well, I guess if you want to have fun being a samurai and slashing your foes up, check out "Afro Samurai." Otherwise, save your money.