By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By LA Weekly critics
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
ORDER OF CHAOS If you thought tax attorneys were all wonky pencil-pushers, writer-director Vince Vieluf’s overheated psychological thriller aims to disabuse you of that notion. Mild-mannered straight-arrow John (Rhys Coiro) is towing the company line and about to land a big account when he meets his new co-worker Rick (Milo Ventimiglia), an ultraconfident bad boy who decides John needs to loosen up and stop letting people boss him around. Before you can say bad influence, Rick has John partying all hours of the night, fraternizing with loose women, and mouthing off to his icy fiancée (Samantha Mathis). But, of course, Rick’s motives are far from altruistic. For a little while, Order of Chaos is merely dim-witted malarkey, as Vieluf strains to orchestrate an edgy, Bret Easton Ellis–style decadence — editor Jennifer Mayer seems to have been paid by the flash cut — but soon it becomes painfully clear that the filmmaker actually envisions this mano-a-mano revenge tale as some sort of tortured commentary on the corruption of the American Dream. As suave, devilish Rick, Ventimiglia seems to be channeling late-’80s Tom Cruise, while Coiro succeeds in being unconvincing as both a timid wimp and, later, a paranoid hedonist. All in all, Order of Chaos is about as scintillating as an audit — with slightly more nudity. (Tim Grierson) (Sunset 5)
PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTING THIEF was not screened in advance of our publication deadline, but a review will appear here next week.
RED RIDING TRILOGY Now a 305-minute triptych film, Red Riding originated in the novels of David Peace, who looked back without nostalgia to the Yorkshire of his youth. Peace’s four Red Riding books, set between 1974 and 1983, tell four compact, overlapping narratives of crime and punishment — rarely of the guilty. Adapted by screenwriter Tony Grisoni, Red Riding Trilogy’s three episodes are each handled by a different, noteworthy U.K. director. Julian Jarrold’s 1974 concerns Eddie Dunford (Andrew Garfield), who has moved home from the south for Dad’s funeral and a job as a junior crime reporter. He starts to cover the disappearances of local girls and decries something rotten in Yorkshire, as his investigations don’t jive with the conviction of a local half-wit. 1980, the best freestanding film by a wide margin, takes place during the last at-large days of the Yorkshire Ripper, who held North England in suspense for five years and 13 murders. Peter Hunter (Paddy Considine) is a Manchester internal affairs man sent across the moors to review the failed search for The Ripper, and Hunter’s outsider status allows director James Marsh several face-offs between conceited, contained Considine and the resentful Yorkies. But any spell cast is diffused by weak cleanup man Anand Tucker’s whiffed 1983, returning to 1974’s crime(s) in smeary digital video. Another missing child triggers flashbacks and David Morrissey’s career copper remembers his conscience while picking up Dunford and Hunter’s loose threads. A bathetic conclusion previews what we can anticipate from Ridley Scott’s announced American remake. (Nick Pinkerton)(Nuart)
TERRIBLY HAPPY After waving a gun around at home, young Copenhagen cop Robert Hansen (Jakob Cedergren) is shipped to the South Jutland flatlands to cool off as marshal of a small town. Surprising no one who has watched such a migration onscreen before, he finds amused villagers with a highly developed talent for collusion and a tendency to become familiar with their new impartial authority. Within minutes, a married woman, Ingerlise, with a concussed Rita Rudner affect, sidles into his office and delivers a spiel that’s part blowzy flirtation and part ambiguous report of spousal abuse. The paunchy cowboy-hatted wife beater, Jørgen, has the run of the place, dark deeds unfold on the marshy outskirts, and everyone’s okay with it. Hansen peers out cautiously from his innocent stubble-dusted face as if afraid of being found out, as director Henrik Ruben Genz’s simmering stew sees a man who made one violent mistake be ruined anew by genially corrupt yokels. Cedergren is a little too bland, but that works with Hansen’s air of haplessness and sets him apart from the colorful locals. Hansen’s self-inflicted reckoning is a horizon visible throughout the movie, and the bog outside of town is a thudding but effective metaphor for willful repression. That quagmire, where incriminating items (like cars and bodies) may be secretly dumped, poses the double-edged-sword solution to Hansen’s despair over the past: Just forget about it. (Nicolas Rapold) (Sunset 5, Playhouse 7)
WAITING FOR ARMAGEDDON “When I look at what’s happening in the Middle East,” says an interviewee in Waiting for Armageddon, “I don’t look at it with the hope that things will work out.” Moments later, rhapsodizing about floating in post-Rapture clouds alongside Christ while earthbound sinners writhe in torment, he chuckles, “It’ll be a lot of fun to watch.” Co-directed by Kate Davis, Franco Sacchi and David Heilbroner, Armageddon is Doc Filmmaking 101 — establishing shot, talking head, repeat. What makes it compelling is the juxtaposition of the filmmakers’ professional detachment with the chilling words and smug attitudes of their right-wing Evangelical Christian subjects, who hang themselves with their own religious/ideological rope. (Christ’s love, compassion and mercy go unmentioned here by his followers.) Armageddon efficiently glides from churches both small and mega to the homes of its subjects, over to Israel with a tour group of true (and gallingly bigoted) believers as it unravels the Evangelical crowd’s perverse reasons for supporting Israel. It traces the political roots of the movement to a Democrat, outlines said movement’s power bases (school boards, corporations, political offices) and their numbers (an estimated 50 million,) and lets level-headed theologians refute bloodlust interpretations of scripture. But those refutations are little comfort against the manifest power of American entitlement and religious superiority fueling final-days fantasies, against which the film winds up being a sobering warning. (Ernest Hardy) (Downtown Independent)
Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!