Movies: What to Watch in February – March 2014

Our movie recommendation these months reflects stories from different eras.

MOTION EXPLOSION. With the eruption of mount vesuvius and a calamitous earthquake, the city of “Pompeii” in the ancient times serves as a fitting background to a tragic love story. Kit Harrington plays the role of a slave-turned-gladiator with odds stacked high against him, racing against time to rescue his love from entering into a disastrously matched marriage. The classic plot of the star-crossed lovers is taken to new heights with extraordinary facts about the explosion of the volcano and complexities of a nation overrun by corruption and debauchery. With a contrast of surviving love set against the perishing city, the historical site plays an irreplaceable role in the film, serving as the pillar around which the intricacies of the plot revolve.


STAND ALONE. With the surge of teenage hero movies comes “Divergent,” a story set in dystopian Chicago where teenagers are obliged to choose a faction to represent a virtue which upholds the structure of the society. Much like Jennifer Lawrence’s character in “The Hunger Games,” Shailene Woodley’s Beatrice Prior is the fearless teenage girl and an outsider, unwillingly drawn into the ugly world of totalitarian rule. With a slight nod to “The Matrix,” the action-packed flick also explores the theme of artificial reality and the mind’s manipulation of it. Kate Winslet adds sharpness with her portrayal of the chillingly mechanical Jeanine Matthews, while Theo James lends his bad boy appeal in the film adaptation of the novel.


MONUMENTAL PROPORTION. Blending “ocean eleven’s” fraternity of suave with Tarantino’s gritty World War II flick in a throwback of a Robin Hood-esque film is “The Monuments Men.” George Clooney, slipping comfortably into his role of the mastermind, once again leads the pack and returns artistic masterpieces seized by the Nazis to their rightful owners with the help of Matt Damon, Bill Murray and John Goodman. Cate Blanchett, reminiscent of her role in “The Good German,” brings her sultry voice and irresistible doe-eyed allure as Rose Valland, a French art historian attempting to rescue Jewish-owned artworks from the hands of the Nazis. Based on a true story, the clever comedy interwoven with historical facts is as entertaining as it is illuminating.


PARK AVENUE PRINCESS. Billy Joel sang about it in “Uptown Girl” and Fitzgerald’s great literary work “The Great Gatsby” told the same story in a different medium. Just when the plot of the rich girl-poor boy seems to be constantly retold, remade and revisited, the Valentine’s Day flick “Endless Love” is one of the few that successfully capture the insanity and obsession of the particular type of infatuation. The new remake of the 1981 film of the same title adds a unique brand of libido-driven spontaneity that is seldom portrayed in films of the same theme, with the explosive mix of Alex Pettyfer’s reckless abandonment and Gabriella Wilde’s rebellious spirit. Not an original, but the actors’ interpretations of the same roles lend a fresh perspective to the film.


LOST IN TIME. A film adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Mark Helprin, “Winter’s Tale” is a classic story of a love that transcends time with a dash of psychedelic surrealism. Time-traveling protagonist and crossed destinies make up the components of an intriguing plot while a setting in a mythical New York City lends an element of fantasy. Portraying the characters of an Irish mob boss and his repudiated underling are native Irish actors Russell Crowe and Colin Farrell, engaged in an engrossing battle between good and evil. The tug-of-war performance between the two actors is softened by the love story between Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay, which eventually leads Farrell to explore the option of time travel to prevent her death.