The Company Men
This incisive, in-depth look at the personal consequences of a broken economy features a terrific cast, deeply-felt emotions and an earnest exploration of the ways an influx of money and wealth threaten one’s humanity. Writer-director John Wells shepherds an ensemble including Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper and Maria Bello through a wealth of authentic, deeply felt moments as each struggles to maintain his dignity while experiencing the worst of corporate avarice. It’s occasionally a bit too issue-oriented, too evident in its intentions, but the actors give excellent performances and much of the drama rings true.
A glum exercise in sadistic revenge, this French-Canadian thriller — now available On Demand — is a flat, straightforward dramatization of a father’s brutal, detailed plan to get back at his daughter’s murderer in the most harrowing possible way. It’s more realistic than its standard issue compatriots (Rémy Girard, as the lead, lacks the frenzied fury of a wronged Mel Gibson) but the colorless environment, propensity for distancing medium shots and frequent close-ups of gruesome bodily mutilation make for a miserable, catharsis free two hours.
Welcome to the Rileys
James Gandolfini plays another tough, short fused character in “Welcome to the Rileys,” but Doug Riley is a long way from Tony Soprano. He’s a conservative Midwesterner who hates cursing, believes in old-fashioned values and moves in with New Orleans prostitute Mallory (Kristen Stewart) not to take advantage of her, but to help her turn her life around. Despite the familiar premise, Jake Scott’s relationship drama never goes to an expected place, presenting three vivid characters swept together by fate, that change each other’s lives in unforeseen, powerful ways. The crumbled streets of post-Katrina New Orleans pulsate with renewed, intimate life, while Scott — working with screenwriter Ken Hixon — unfolds an affecting story of human rebirth.
Over the past two decades, few places have gone through quite the drastic transformation of post-Soviet Russia. It grappled with an influx of new Democratic freedoms and must now confront the perilous reality of their gradual overturning. “My Perestroika,” a terrific documentary by Robin Hessman — an American who spent many years there — looks at five members of the last Soviet generation, all classmates, and through a micro examination of their personal stories arrives at a comprehensive, powerful summation of the perennial instability of Russian life as a whole.