The Railway Man (SSSS): Screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce says, “It’s hard to make any film, but The Railway Man was particularly hard.” Hard as it might have been to write and produce, it is equally hard to watch. It’s far more accurate in its treatment of the “death railway,” that the Japanese constructed with POW-enhanced slave labor, than David Lean’s “Hollywood” treatment about a fictional bridge over a fictional river Kwai. Colin Firth’s performance of the true story of Eric Lomax and his battle with post-traumatic stress and his eventual confrontation with his inhumane captor highlights the telling of the brutality of the Japanese, supported by a fine performance by Nicole Kidman as his wife. It’s made more poignant by the fact that it was filmed on the actual railway where more than 100,000 slaves died and many more were tortured.
Fading Gigolo (S): If this is not the worst Woody Allen movie (he neither wrote nor directed), it’s not far off. Woody’s acting can sometimes be annoying, never more so than here. His constant whining voice becomes as bad as fingernails across a blackboard. As writer/director/star John Turturro wanders around like he’s in a stupor, this is a film that completely misses on all levels. On the positive side, all the women, Sharon Stone, Vanessa Paradis, and Sofia Vergara, are gorgeous.
Draft Day (SSS): For those who think they know a lot about professional football this thinly disguised 2 hour infomercial for the NFL (which had what is tantamount to final cut) should be enjoyable. For those who actually do know a lot about football, it could be more aggravating than entertaining. Despite a gratuitous flippant attitude towards unwed pregnancies, even with range-challenged Kevin Costner the acting is good. Highly predictable, it’s still mildly enjoyable even if it is a frivolous, frothy flight of fancy.
Sabotage (SSS): Although you don’t go to an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie like this to watch acting, Olivia Williams gives a good performance, even if she does try to outdo the men in being a tough cop. What’s good is that it has wonderful pace. There’s a mystery that needs to be solved and revenge that needs to be gained. There isn’t anyone contemplating their navels, or anything else that looks like director David Ayers thinks he’s making some sort of artistic statement. It’s just another action picture that’s entertaining enough.