“SIDE EFFECTS” My rating: B (Opening wide on Feb. 8)
105 minutes | MPAA rating: R
For more than half its running time, Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects” keeps us guessing as to just what sort of movie it is.
It begins with a handsome young man, Martin (current “it” guy Channing Tatum), being released from prison.
So maybe it’s a gritty film about Martin trying to rebuild his life after years in stir?
But then we get to know his wife, Emily (the marvelous Rooney Mara, late of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”), an emotionally fragile individual coming apart at the seams. No sooner is her husband back home than she attempts suicide by driving her car into a wall.
So maybe it’s a hard-hitting film about depression?
Emily and Martin visit a shrink, Dr. Banks (Jude Law), who puts her on a powerful new antidepressant (he’s also a paid consultant for the drug’s manufacturer). Then Emily begins having bizarre sleepwalking episodes and does something really horrible and criminal.
So maybe it’s a socially-conscious film about our prevalent drug culture and an industry that tries to peddle dangerous side effects-heavy pharmaceuticals as if they were soda pop?
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“BROKEN CITY” My rating: C (Opens wide on Jan. 18)
109 minutes | MPAA rating: R
Not even an A-list cast can do much with “Broken City,” this year’s indifferent released-in-January thriller from Mark Wahlberg.
Written by first-timer Brian Tucker and directed by Allen Hughes (half of the directing Hughes Brothers who gave us “From Hell” and the solid doc “American Pimp”), this overcomplicated mashup of film noir elements and Big Apple misdeeds never finds its voice or presents a story compelling enough to grab our interest.
Private eye Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) used to be a cop — until he shot to death a homeboy who raped and murderd the sister of Billy’s girlfriend. Billy beat the rap but at the insistence of NYC’s garroulous Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) and Police Commisioner Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright) resigned from the force.
Now, years later, Billy specializes in chasing cheating husbands.
Still, he’s surprised when Hostetler offers him $50,000 to follow the Mayor’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and prove she’s having an affair. Billy finds that New York’s First Lady is indeed hanging around with another man (Kyle Chandler, late of “Friday Night Lights”). Not just any man, but the campaign director of a city councilman who hopes to unseat Mayor Hostetler in a fiercely contested election. (more…)
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