News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Movie review: “End of Watch,” “The Master,” “Trouble with the Curve,” “House at the End of the Street,” “Dredd”
BY ROB HEDELT
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
“END OF WATCH” (R)
(THREE STARS) JAKE GYLLENHAAL, MICHAEL PEÑA, ANNA KENDRICK
If you can overlook some ridiculously obscene language from gang members and the unnecessary use of shaky footage, this film about two street cops really grabs you.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña have strong chemistry as two Los Angeles patrolmen who face their job with humor and a tough edge.
When they manage to anger the wrong guys—a drug cartel trying to establish itself—things get tough for the pair.
But until then, we get some insight on the job and the men and the women who love the people who do it.
Gyllenhaal unexpectedly takes his character into tough-guy territory, complete with a shaved head and macho vibe. But in his dealings with his partner (Peña) and the girl he falls for (a sweet Anna Kendrick), we see a softer, more thoughtful side.
As for the shaky footage, get over it, Hollywood. It’s just distracting and needlessly unsettling. The amateurish technique is explained here by the fact that one of the buddies is making a video for a class.
Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use. 109 min. [MC, RA, RF]
“THE MASTER” (R)
(TWO STARS) PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, JOAQUIN PHOENIX, AMY ADAMS
Does amazing acting matter if the film it’s in goes nowhere?
Not so much, as this movie with amazing, possibly Oscar-worthy performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix demonstrates.
Yes, as the hoax-master of a cult-like group, Hoffman once again demonstrates he’s at the top of his profession.
And Phoenix inhabits the role of a perverted, mentally -ill Navy vet as few others could.
But by film’s end, we don’t know much more about either character than we did when it started. The rambling story doesn’t really make any statement about the cult, its leaders or followers, and you’re left with nothing but admiration for the two actors and a wish that they’d been in a film that was more than a display of their skill.
Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity and language. 136 min. [RF]
“TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE” (PG–13)
(TWO STARS) CLINT EASTWOOD, AMY ADAMS, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
Though Clint Eastwood’s crabby old-guy character is starting to get tiresome, this tale of a baseball-scout father and the daughter who loves the game throws enough strikes to work.
It helps that Justin Timberlake adds to the mix as a former pitcher who’s trying to become a scout.
Eastwood is passable as an aging baseball scout suffering from eye trouble. His daughter (the likable Amy Adams) comes to his aid, bringing to light the hurt she feels from being deposited with others after her mother died.
Things move along nicely enough, and there’s enough fun baseball action to make this a sweet, enjoyable outing, even though Eastwood needs to retire his crabapple persona. It’s getting older than he is.
Rated PG–13 for language, sexual references, thematic material. 111 min. [MC, RA, RF]
“HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET” (PG–13)
(TWO STARS) JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ELISABETH SHUE, MAX THIERIOT
With the talented Jennifer Lawrence in the lead and a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat, this thriller about a murdered mother and father is an unexpected plus.
It’s a movie with horror overtones that—thankfully—doesn’t include someone possessed by a demon.
The script has enough twists and surprises to make it a good popcorn-muncher.
Rated PG–13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, thematic elements, language, teen partying and brief drug material. 101 min. [MC, RA, RF]
(ONE STAR) KARL URBAN, OLIVIA THIRLBY
When the body count hits about three dozen—early on—you’ve got an idea what you’re in for in this futuristic shoot-’em-up.
I don’t blame Karl Urban for never taking off his judge’s helmet. I wouldn’t want anyone to know I was in this piece of junk, either.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use, sexual content. 96 min. [MC, RA, RF]