(Click on the DVD title to see the trailer)
The Wind Rises ***½ Directed by Hayo Miyazaki. A look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II. The grim subtext of The Wind Rises goes largely unacknowledged, leading to a gaping hole in this otherwise beautifully realized narrative that celebrates the power of curiosity as a motivating force.
22 Jump Street *** Directed by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller. Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube. Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) go undercover as college students to crack a fraternity crime ring. There are certainly a lot of actors who can match Hill and Tatum as comic actors, but it’s the oddball connection between these two that makes for a very entertaining couple of hours. Be sure to sit through the closing credits, which imagine all sorts of Jump Street sequels to come.
If I Stay ** Directed by R.J. Cutter. Chloë Grace Moretz, Mereille Enos, Joshua Leonard, Stacy Keach. While trying to choose between love and a musical career, 17-year-old Mia Hall finds her life upended by a tragic car crash that puts her in a coma. If I Stay never bothers to go after authenticity when there’s a cliché hovering nearby. That may not be enough of a drawback to prevent teenagers from renting the movie in droves, but they certainly deserve better.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For ** Directed by Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez. Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin. Cornering the market on sex and blackmail, Dwight McCarthy (Owen) matches rich men with prostitutes before snapping their photographs and selling the pictures to their wives, but he’d give anything to go legit. In just about every way, the film is an inferior sequel — dumber, flatter, lacking even the barbaric extremity of its predecessor. Where’s a flesh-eating Elijah Wood when you need him?
Into the Storm *½ Directed by Steven Quayle. When a wave of powerful tornadoes bears down on the town of Silverton, a band of high school students tries to capture the destruction on videotape. When you’re pining for Bill Paxton and the relative emotional realism of Twister, you know you’re in trouble.
And So It Goes *½ Directed by Rob Reiner. Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Sterling Jerins, Frances Sternhagen. A self-absorbed realtor enlists the help of his neighbor when he’s suddenly left in charge of the granddaughter he never knew existed until his estranged son drops her off at his home. Reiner assembles a square meal of rom-com pleasure points, but it’s bland, by-the-numbers and not particularly memorable.