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Friday movie roundup: ‘Draft Day’ is a good pick
Baseball season has barely started, but the best new movie this weekend is a glorification of all things football.
"Draft Day" is a fast-paced, whipsmart comedy that looks behind the scenes of an NFL team on one of the pivotal days on the calendar: The NFL draft. Kevin Costner stars as Sonny Weaver Jr., the harried general manager of the Cleveland Browns, who feels the pressure to trade up for a No. 1 draft pick, as he deals with an owner (Frank Langella), a coach (Denis Leary), a veteran quarterback (Tom Welling) and everyone else second-guessing him. Director Ivan Reitman makes his best movie in two decades, and gives Costner a platform to shine. (Read The Cricket's interview with Tom Welling.)
The weekend's other box-office contender is "Rio 2," a colorful but dull sequel to the animated film. This time, blue macaws Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway) discover a whole flock of their endangered kind, and fly deep into the Amazon for a reunion. The music is fun, but otherwise it's a snooze.
The studios also are giving us "Oculus," a creepy horror movie about siblings (Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites) trying to prove that a haunted mirror was responsible for their parents' grisly deaths 11 years earlier. Director Mike Flanagan cleverly shifts through time for maximum scares, but the movie's internal logic falls apart before the finale.
Also opening fairly wide is the Indonesian crime thriller "The Raid 2," a sequel to the hellacious action drama "The Raid: Redemption." This one takes the action to the Jakarta streets, as rookie cop Rana (Iko Uwais) goes deep undercover with a mob family to root out corruption that touches the police force. The action is intense, but the plot is a little sprawling.
The art-house slate is strong this weekend, too.
"Le Week-End" is an emotionally charged comedy-drama that follows a long-married English couple, played beautifully by Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, who take an anniversary trip to Paris and find long-standing issues brewing under the surface. Director Roger Michell and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi (who collaborated on "Venus") create precise characters, including a great role for Jeff Goldblum, in this thoughtful story of love and regret.
Lastly, there's "The Unknown Known," in which filmmaker Errol Morris puts his gaze on former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld — and leaves us as exasperated by Rumsfeld's double-talk about the Iraq War as Morris evidently is.