Hank’s Recommendations 11/25/14

hank_paperGOD’S POCKET

A dark, bleak, original film with a great cast (including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, John Turturro and John Slattery), GOD’S POCKET authentically recreates a Philadelphia neighborhood down at its heels but not its resilience. Hoffman plays a resident with heart and loyalty, a lot of debt, an inability to please his wife and a body he can’t bury. With some of the intensity and atmosphere of “Mystic River” (though not its operatic melodrama), and featuring a suitably valedictory performance by Hoffman (far deeper and wider than his performance in “A Most Wanted Man”), this black comedy is vivid, moving and real.

COLD IN JULY

A decent homeowner shoots dead a home invader and soon finds himself in over his head and his life transformed. A suspenseful, twisty mystery thriller, COLD IN JULY stars Dexter’s Michael C. Hall displaying his considerable acting chops, Sam Shepard (who seems to be in every other movie these days) and a weathered and amusing Don Johnson, who delightfully offers up his own evergreen, sardonic acting chops. With a plot as unusual as the title suggests, this is an entertaining film with, no doubt, the welcome promise of further Don Johnson roles.

THIRD PERSON

That rare thing today—an adult drama. Written and directed by Paul Haggis, who brought us the Best Picture Oscar-winning CRASH, about racial tension in L.A., THIRD PERSON also offers a great ensemble cast (including Liam Neeson, Adrien Brody, James Franco, Maria Bello and Kim Bassinger) throwing a wide net over the issues of relationship: caring, risking, protecting. Watching” becomes a key word in this Haggis script as we follow three couples in three cities, with some triangulation of interconnection. Critics were mixed on this ambitious concept, and I suspect many will love or hate it. Watch it, take a risk and see if you care. I did.

21 HOURS IN MUNICH

Two penetrating films about the vengeful aftermath of the so-called “Munich massacre” of Israeli athletes at the Olympic games in 1972 (the Israeli film SWORD OF GIDEON and Steven Spielberg’s MUNICH) were preceded by 21 HOURS IN MUNICH, a 1976 star-studded TV movie that describes the massacre and hostage-taking itself. Written by Howard Fast and starring William Holden as a police chief standing off against Franco Nero as the chief Arab terrorist and hostage-holder, this two-Emmy nominated film is briskly paced and suspenseful throughout, justifying its 200 minute length. The behind-the-scenes negotiations between Germany and Israel in determining responsibility for a response, while trying to strategize a tricky, hoped-for resolution, is a fascinating story in itself, grippingly played out by an expert cast.