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By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Four films are entering the multiplexes this week, 2 new, 1 expanding to our local markets, and a rerelease of a Best Picture nominee… in 3D!!!

Four films are entering the multiplexes this week, 2 new, 1 expanding to our local markets, and a rerelease of a Best Picture nominee… in 3D!!! Before I jump into the fray, here is a quick reminder of how my rating system works.

The rating I give these films is NOT a rating on the final product. In all but one case, I have not seen the movie. Instead the ratings are my interest level in watching the film. These are my opinions alone. In many cases, yours will (and more than likely should) be different. Typically a one is when I have absolutely no desire to see it. Two I may watch it on instant streaming through Netflix. Three is when I may Redbox the DVD when it comes out, with a slight chance of venturing to a cinema. Four is when there is a good possibility of seeing it on the big screen, maybe after it has been out for a week. Five is when I am trying to get there opening weekend.   With that out of the way, let’s jump right in.
CONTRABAND
Mark Wahlberg (Renaissance Man) breaks away from his Entourage on a trip to Panama. This former smuggler has to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills in order to protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord. Giovanni Ribisi (Some Girl) and Kate Beckinsale (Uncovered) co-star.
This remake of a 2008 Icelandic film screams January release to me. Mark Wahlberg appears to sleepwalk through this role, as he has done on many occasions (look at “Max Payne” for an example…on second thought, don’t). It’s a movie that would be lost in the shuffle if it had been released at any other time. It has a chance of hitting the number two spot in the box office, mostly because its only other competition is “The Devil Inside.” (For my prediction of the number one film, stay tuned) For me, I may Netflix it so I’ll rate it as a 2 Rocking Van Halen songs out of 5. “Contraband” is rated R for violence, pervasive language and brief drug use.
JOYFUL NOISE
Queen Latifah (Bringing Out the Dead) and Dolly Parton (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) butt heads as two choir members with different ideas of how to win a national competition. One way involves Dolly’s grandson, the other is Latifah’s daughter. I’m guessing the proper way will end up being cooperation between the two. Kris Kristofferson (Sandino) and Courtney B. Vance (Final Destination 5) costars.
This trailer was painful for me to watch. The jokes fell flat and the music left something to be desired. It reeks of sentimental schmaltz and that is something that drives me away. If sentimental feelings are used properly, it can be a powerful tool. I think the January release date counteracts any belief it is used correctly. I’ll award it 1 Nature of a Sista out of 5. “Joyful Noise” is rated PG-13 for some language including a sexual reference.
THE IRON LADY
Expanding into our local theaters is a movie about the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Meryl Streep (Death Becomes Her) steps into the shoes of Margaret Thatcher in a film that looks at her life and the price that she paid to become one of the most powerful women on the planet.
Meryl Streep is receiving accolades for her portrayal of the head of Her Majesty’s Government but the film is not. It currently sits at a rotten 57% out of 106 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which, for a would be Oscar contender, is not good. The USA Today writes “The story lacks insight, glosses over key political issues and is unworthy of Streep’s masterful performance.” That was from what Metacritic.com considers a favorable review. Can a performance pull me into a theater? Perhaps, but it’s not likely. I’ll just leave this as a 2 David Camerons out of 5. “The Iron Lady” is rated PG-13 for some violent images and brief nudity.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
The “Tale as Old as Time” returns to dominate the box office, this time in 3D!!! If you don’t know the synopsis of this film or have never seen it, stop reading, go to Best Buy or a similar store and buy this right now. Just say that it is for your kids, if you should feel embarrassed. Trust me. It’s worth it. (I was more embarrassed to have “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday” on the same receipt when I originally bought it in 2002)
If you couldn’t tell by the last paragraph, I LOVE this film. It ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite films, mostly because of Gaston, the quote unquote villain of this piece. It was the first of only three animated films (Up and Toy Story 3 were the other 2) to be nominated for Best Picture (it lost to “Silence of the Lambs”). While I at first questioned its rerelease in 3D (it’s already available in 3D on blu-ray if you have the proper equipment), the huge success of “The Lion King” rerelease calmed my trepidation. However, the chance to relive my youth in a film that I know is still fantastic may be enough to make me slap my money down on the counter. I’ll grant it 4 necks as incredibly thick as Gaston’s out of 5. “Beauty and the Beast” is rated G.
That does it for this week. Stay tuned for next week when Lycans and Vampires battle it out for supremacy of the Underworld while an MMA star seeks payback. Until next time, keep that Joyful Noise to yourself. You’ll disturb the neighbors.
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