James Franco and Michelle Williams star in “Oz the Great and Powerful.”
A number of new movies will hit theaters this week, including the following films opening in wide release:
Oz the Great and Powerful Genre: Adventure and fantasy Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Joey King and Bruce Campbell Director: Sam Raimi Rated: PG
Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved character, the Wizard of Oz.
When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot – fame and fortune are his for the taking – that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late.
Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity – and even a bit of wizardry – Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.
Dead Man Down Genre: Action and thriller Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard and Isabelle Huppert Director: Niels Arden Oplev Rated: R
Acclaimed Danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev, director of the original “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” makes his American film debut with “Dead Man Down,” a provocative action thriller starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace.
Set in the violent and unforgiving criminal underworld of New York City, “Dead Man Down” is a startling and vivid tale of two strangers bound together by a consuming mutual obsession: revenge.
Victor (Farrell), a rising gangland player, has infiltrated the crime empire run by ruthless kingpin Alphonse (Terrence Howard), with the single purpose of making Alphonse pay for destroying his once happy life. As he meticulously orchestrates his vengeance from his high-rise home, Victor watches and is watched by Beatrice (Rapace), a mysterious young woman who lives in the apartment across from his.
On the surface a fragile woman-child, Beatrice seethes with a rage of her own. When she uncovers Victor's dark secrets, she threatens to expose him unless he helps her carry out her own campaign of retribution. Each fixated on avenging the past, they devise a violent and cathartic plan that could change their worlds forever.
The following will open in limited release. It may be several weeks before these films appear in local movie theaters.
Beyond the Hills Genre: Drama Cast: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valeriu Andriuta, Dana Tapalaga and Catalina Harabagiu Director: Cristian Mungiu Not rated
In an isolated Orthodox convent in Romania, Alina has just been reunited with Voichita after spending several years in Germany. The two young women have supported and loved each other since meeting as children in an orphanage.
Alina wants Voichita to leave and return with her to Germany, but Voichita has found refuge in faith and a family in the nuns and their priest, and refuses. Alina cannot understand her friend’s choice. In her attempt to win back Voichita’s affection, she challenges the priest. She is taken to a hospital and the people of the monastery start to suspect that she is possessed.
When the doctors send her back, Alina is included in the monastic routine in the hope that she will find peace. But her condition worsens and they finally have to tie her to a wooden plank to prevent her from hurting herself. After ruling out all other options, the priest and nuns decide to read her prayers to deliver those possessed by the Evil One. They perform an exorcism, but the result is not what they had hoped, and Voichita begins to doubt the religious choice she has made. She decides to free Alina – but her decision comes too late.
The film is inspired by the nonfiction novels of Tatiana Niculescu Bran.
Emperor Genre: Drama Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Matthew Fox and Eriko Hatsune Director: Peter Webber Rated: PG-13
A gripping tale of love and honor forged between fierce enemies of war, “Emperor” unfolds the story, inspired by true events, of the bold and secret moves that won the peace in the shadows of postwar Japan.
Matthew Fox joins with Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones, newcomer Eriko Hatsune and award-winning Japanese star Toshiyuki Nishida to bring to life the American occupation of Japan in the perilous and unpredictable days just after Emperor Hirohito's World War II surrender. As Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Jones) suddenly finds himself the de facto ruler of a foreign nation, he assigns an expert in Japanese culture ñ and psychological warfare ñ Gen. Bonner Fellers (Fox), to covertly investigate the looming question hanging over the country: should the Japanese Emperor, worshiped by his people but accused of war crimes, be punished or saved?
Caught between the high-wire political intrigue of his urgent mission and his own impassioned search for the mysterious school teacher (Hatsune) who first drew him to Japan, Fellers can be certain only that the tricky subterfuge about to play out will forever change the history of two nations and his heart.
The Silence Genre: Crime and thriller Cast: Ulrich Thomsen, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Sebastian Blomberg, Katrin Sass and Burghart Klaussner Director: Baron bo Odar Not rated
“The Silence” begins 23 years ago on a hot summer day, when a girl named Pia is brutally murdered in a field of wheat by Peer (Ulrich Thomsen), as his helpless friend Timo (Wotan Wilke Moehring) watches.
Now, in the present day, on the exact same date, 13-year-old Sinikka is missing, her bicycle abandoned in the same spot, leading police to suspect the same killer may be at work again. Recently widowed Detective David (Sebastian Blomberg) and his colleague Janna (Jule Boewe) struggle to solve the mystery of these parallel crimes with the help of Krischan (Burghart Klaussner), the retired investigator of the unresolved case.
While Sinikka’s distraught parents are trapped in an agonizing period of waiting and uncertainty, their daughter’s fate rips open unhealed wounds in the heart of Pia’s mother (Katrin Sass) and sends Timo in search of Peer and their own old desires.
In his strikingly commanding debut feature, Swiss born Baran bo Odar adapts Jan Costin Wagner’s novel with his own unmistakable signature.