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Movie News & Reviews
Opening this weekend - Dec. 27
Article published on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013
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Photo by FRANK CONNOR
Keanu Reeves, left, stars as Kai and Hiroyuki Sanada as Oishi in the action-adventure "47 Ronin."
Grudge Match pairs Stallone, De Niro; Reeves stars in 47 Ronin. A number of new movies will hit theaters this week, including the following films opening in wide release:

47 Ronin
Genre: Adventure and fantasy
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano and Rinko Kikuchi
Director: Carl Rinsch
Rated: PG-13

Keanu Reeves leads an all-star international cast in the action-adventure “47 Ronin.”

After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Reeves) – a half-breed they once rejected – as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors. As this exiled, enslaved outcast becomes their most deadly weapon, he will transform into a hero who inspires this band of outnumbered rebels to confront the evil taking over their land and seize eternity.

Based upon the epic story that has become one of Japan’s most enduring legends, this extraordinary tale of unbelievable courage has its origins in the early 18th century, when 47 noble samurai honored the untimely death of their master by avenging him.

Grudge Match
Genre: Comedy and drama
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin, Kim Basinger, Jon Bernthal and Camden Gray
Director: Peter Segal
Rated: PG-13

In “Grudge Match,” Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone play Billy “The Kid” McDonnen and Henry “Razor” Sharp, two local Pittsburgh fighters whose fierce rivalry put them in the national spotlight.

Each had scored a victory against the other during their heyday, but in 1983, on the eve of their decisive third match, Razor suddenly announced his retirement, refusing to explain why but effectively delivering a knock-out punch to both their careers. Now, 30 years later, boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr., seeing big dollar signs, makes them an offer they can’t refuse: to re-enter the ring and settle the score once and for all.

But they may not have to wait that long: on their first encounter in decades, their long-festering feud erupts into an unintentionally hilarious melee that instantly goes viral. The sudden social media frenzy transforms their local grudge match into a must-see HBO event. If they can just survive the training, they may actually live to fight again.

Justin Bieber’s Believe
Genre: Documentary and music
Cast: Justin Bieber, Scooter Braun, Usher Raymond, Rodney Jerkins, Ludacris and Mike Posner
Director: John M. Chu
Rated: PG

Behind the headlines, beyond the spotlight – there’s more to his story.

Directed by Jon M. Chu, “Justin Bieber’s Believe” captures 19-year-old Justin Bieber unfiltered and brutally honest. In brand new interviews with Bieber, the movie reveals long-awaited answers to questions about his passion to make music, relationships and coming of age in the spotlight -- as well as never-before-seen concert footage, unprecedented behind-the-scenes access and special appearances from manager Scooter Braun, Patti Mallette, Usher, Ludacris and many more.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Genre: Adventure and comedy
Cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn and Sean Penn
Director: Ben Stiller
Rated: PG

No one really knows the power of the private dreams inside our heads … until they inspire our reality.

That’s what happens in Ben Stiller’s contemporary rethink of one of the most influential fantasy stories of all time – indeed the quintessential tale about the irresistible allure of fantasizing: James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Stiller has taken that two-and-a-half page 1939 classic and opened it up into a 21st century comic epic about a man who finds that his real life is about to blow his wildly over-active imagination out of the water.

This Walter Mitty (Stiller) is a modern day-dreamer, an ordinary magazine photo editor who takes a regular mental vacation from his ho-hum existence by disappearing into a world of fantasies electrified by dashing heroism, passionate romance and constant triumphs over danger. But when Mitty and the co-worker he secretly adores (Kristen Wiig) stand in actual peril of losing their jobs, Walter must do the unimaginable: take real action – sparking a global journey more extraordinary than anything he could have ever dreamed up.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Genre: Drama
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jean Dujardin, Pj Byrne and Kenneth Choi
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rated: R

Revered filmmaker Martin Scorsese directs the story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio).

From the American dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late ’80s. Excess success and affluence in his early 20s as founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont warranted Belfort the title “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Money. Power. Women. Drugs. Temptations were for the taking and the threat of authority was irrelevant. For Jordan and his wolf pack, modesty was quickly deemed overrated and more was never enough.

The following will open in limited release. It may be several weeks before these films appear in local movie theaters.

August: Osage County
Genre: Comedy and drama
Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard and Misty Upham
Director: John Wells
Rated: R

“August: Osage County” tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name made its Broadway debut in December 2007 after premiering at Chicago’s legendary Steppenwolf Theatre earlier that year. It continued with a successful international run and was the winner of five Tony Awards in 2008, including Best Play.

The Invisible Woman
Genre: Drama
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas and Tom Hollander
Director: Abi Morgan
Rated: R

Nelly (Felicity Jones), a happily-married mother and schoolteacher, is haunted by her past.

Her memories, provoked by remorse and guilt, take us back in time to follow the story of her relationship with Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) with whom she discovered an exciting but fragile complicity.

Dickens – famous, controlling and emotionally isolated within his success – falls for Nelly, who comes from a family of actors. The theatre is a vital arena for Dickens – a brilliant amateur actor – a man more emotionally coherent on the page or on stage, than in life. As Nelly becomes the focus of Dickens’ passion and his muse, for both of them secrecy is the price, and for Nelly a life of “invisibility.”
Article published on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013
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