Set in a tomorrow that looks like yesterday, Alfonso Cuarn's wrenching adaptation of P.D. James' novel feels more like documentary than fiction. In James' world, women have gone barren, and immigrants and refugees are tossed into prison camps; it's the proverbial nightmare to which we might actually wake up sooner than later. Starring Clive Owen as the accidental, unwilling hero, this is grim, gritty stuff—a cautionary thriller that's as downbeat as it is uptempo; you're always expecting the worst, and seldom does Cuarn disappoint. The extras live up to the movie: a thoughtful doc features activists, historians and philosophers ruminating on utopian theories, the dangers of globalization and "ultimate reality." Heady shit, yeah, but worth the time. There's also a dissection of the single-take action sequences that give the movie a real-time vibe. Film students, take note. (Robert Wilonsky)
Also releasing Tuesday:
Color Me Kubrick.Alan Conway was a British homosexual con man who impersonated Stanley Kubrick for sex and money. That's kind of interesting, right? It is for maybe 20 minutes, but this movie is too formless and unambitious to be worth the full 90. That's a shame because John Malkovich clearly relishes the role of conniving Conway—and he rarely has this much fun without the audience joining him. After the ninth or 10th time Conway drunkenly hoodwinks a rube, you've seen enough, but the damn thing keeps on going. The film's not without laughs (the use of grand classical music from Kubrick's films to underscore Conway's pathos is a funny touch), but there's no plot and no question to be answered. Why pretend to be Stanley Kubrick? Well, why not? (Jordan Harper)
The Shield: Season 5.The problem that plagues Tony Soprano and other great antiheroes of modern television is the lack of a "good guy" antagonist who can stand up to them. FX's gritty cop drama The Shield also struggled with this during its first four seasons: Michael Chiklis' portrayal of Vic Mackey as an LAPD detective simply has been too powerful. But by season five, the producers brought in Forest Whitaker to fuck shit up. Whitaker, who filmed this just after his Oscar-winning turn as Idi Amin, plays an Internal Affairs agent who stalks Mackey with fiendish intensity. The Shield's always been a great (if tawdry) show, but here it moves into the realm of masterpiece—especially in its heart-wrenching finale. Don't start watching the series with season five—you'd be lost in minutes. But this is why God invented Netflix. (JH)
Candy.Movies about heroin addicts tend to be pretty cinematic—which is amazing, since at the end of the day, you're mostly just watching people sitting around on their asses. Sure, there have been good movies made about shooting heroin, like Trainspotting and The Man With the Golden Arm; in fact, why don't you go watch one of those? It's not that nothing happens in this one—it's that there's nothing going on that you haven't seen before. Heath Ledger continues to be a better actor than his cheekbones require him to be, and Abbie Cornish is lovely as his smack-befuddled love. But it's just the same old movie: they shoot up and argue and shoot up and commit crimes and shoot up and get naked. Come to think of it, those last parts, while not any more original, are strangely compelling. (JH)
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Other notable releases: Bow; Comeback Season; Curse of the Golden Flower; The Eden Formula; Emmanuelle Around the World; Errol Flynn: The Signature Collection, Volume 2; Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, Volume 1; Following Sean; Hacking Democracy; Happy Feet; Little Dieter Needs to Fly; Mo'Nique's Fat Chance: Competitions 1 & 2; The Pebble and the Penguin: Family Fun Edition; Pervert; The Pursuit of Happyness; Shutter; Sonic the Hedgehog; Stagedoor; Turistas; Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj.