Friday movie roundup: Lake Bell has a voice
The last weekend of summer brings the summer's best comedy.
"In a World..." is a sunny, funny story of Carol (played by Lake Bell, the movie's writer and director), a Hollywood vocal coach who dreams of doing voice-overs for movie trailers. But the voice-over world is a man's world, as her father Sam (Fred Melamed), a veteran voice-over artist, constantly reminds her. Bell dovetails Carol's story with a romantic subplot (between her character and Demetri Martin) and the marital troubles of his sister (Michaela Watkins) and brother-in-law (Rob Corddry). Bell crafts some sharp dialogue with a cagey feminist message, gathers a slew of funny side performers (including Ken Marino, Nick Offerman and Tig Notaro), and shows a gift for physical comedy.
The likely box-office champ this weekend is "One Direction: This Is Us," a concert film/infomercial for the British boy band. Fans will swoon to every performance and backstage tidbit. Nonfans, if they get dragged to see it, may find a few moments of entertainment.
No such luck with "Getaway," a chaotic and idiotic car-chase thriller. Ethan Hawke stars as an ex-NASCAR driver living in Bulgaria, who must commit illegal tasks to save his kidnapped wife. Selena Gomez is thrown into the mix, and proves herself to be less of an actor than the car.
"The Grandmaster" is director Wong Kar-Wai's arty take on the martial-arts genre. Tony Leung stars as Ip Man, the master who popularized Wing Chun kung fu and trained Bruce Lee. The movie follows Ip's early exploits, as his efforts to unite Northern and Southern China's kung fu styles were interrupted by World War II. The fight choreography is fluid, and beautifully staged.
If you missed its Wednesday opening, "Closed Circuit" is a cool, low-key thriller from Britain. Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall star as barristers drawn into a terrorist case, and who find their lives endangered the deeper they get into the evidence. Jim Broadbent steals the show as a smooth government leader.
Lastly, there's Brian de Palma's latest, "Passion," a by-the-numbers erotic thriller about a corporate boss (Rachel McAdams) who screws over her assistant (Noomi Rapace), who turns the tables on her boss. De Palma's usual Hitchcockian theatrics are on display here, but the results are more satirical than scary.