Diving straight into this week's crop of new films, if you're feeling romantic, your best bet is probably The Flowers of War, where Christian Bale dons a priest's robe to try to save a group of women in the Nanking Massacre. A reading of Ulysses might come in handy before you head out to see Men in Black III – a quick, dirty, funny third outing for the franchise, with a more measured, just-enough dose of slime this time – the second Men in Black was kind of gross at times.
The fact that Lady Gaga is an alien in this third coming of the MIBs will come as no surprise to anyone. The best celebrity spin includes Andy Warhol, but we're not going to spoil the surprise and tell you why (no, he is not an alien). What we will say is, it's the hands-down funniest part of the movie.
The plot is quite light: J. (Will Smith) needs to go back in time, more precisely to 1969, in order to save K's skin (Tommy Lee Jones today, Josh Brolin back in the day), and of course, the rest of the world. Director Barry Sonnenfeld once again goes for a cartoon-like tone, flirting with glorious B cinema from the 1950s and '60s and counting on a rock-solid cast including the great Jones, who is, as usual, as captivating as he is rude.
Dir. Barry Sonnenfeld, USA, 2012. Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg. 100 min.
Zhang Yimou is best known for the powerful dramas, Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern, and for winning audiences over with his readings of the wuxia genre, in which martial arts and fantasy are mixed, as in Hero and The House of Flying Daggers (the climax of these readings is the Ang Lee film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The Flowers of War is a rotund romantic drama, set during the Nanking Massacre, which began in 1937 and lasted until February 1938. In it, Christian Bale joins a band of refugee women in a church and, posing as a priest, tries to save them and himself. He becomes involved romantically with one of them, of course.
Dir. Zhang Yimou, China/Hong Kong, 2011. Christian Bale, Paul Schneider, Ni Ni, Tong Dawei. 145 min.
The young director Massy Tadjedin was born in Iran and raised in Orange County, California. With a Harvard degree in English literature, she has made her first long film a gentle tale about loyalty. In it, we have a young couple (Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington) separated for one night. He travels on business with a colleague (Eva Mendes) to whom he is attracted, something that does not go unnoticed by his wife. She comes across a lover from her past (Gillaume Cannet).
Dir. Massy Tadjedin, USA, France, 2010. Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, Gillaume Canet, Griffin Dunne, Anson Mount. 93 min.
The premise of this film might seem absurd, but as director Geoffrey Enthoven knows, it's all in the way you tell 'em. The protagonists are three men in their twenties, each with some form of physical disability. They embark on a trip to Spain with one clear goal: to have sex.
Dir. Geoffrey Enthoven, Belgium, 2011. Tom Audenaert, Isabelle de Hertogh, Gilles De Schrijver, Kimke Desart, Johan Heldenbergh. 115 min.
Nathalie (Audrey Tautou) loses her husband in an accident, and spends the next three years in mourning, ignoring any possibility of new love. Until one day, she inadvertently kisses a co-worker (François Damiens), and they embark on an unlikely relationship. The film is based on a novel called Delicacy by David Foenkinos, also responsible for the adaptation.
Dir. David Foenkinos, Stéphane Foenkinos, France, 2011. Audrey Tautou, François Damiens, Bruno Todeschini, Mélanie Bernier, Pio Marmaï. 108 min.