John Crowley's incisive and thought provoking drama Boy A (***1/2) goes to some dark places but the end result is worth the wrenching journey. Andrew Garfield gives a power-house performance and is matched by Peter Mullan, who turns in yet another sensitive and totally believable portrait of a man caught in the middle of conflicting emotions. The film can't help but take one contrived detour, but overall, this is an extremely well crafted and written piece of work about a hard-to-believe law in England that is the very definition of controversial.
RocknRolla (***) is a stylish return to form for gangster movie auteur Guy Ritchie, who in the past few years has stumbled (the disastrous Swept Away and the incomprehensible Revolver were his previous two efforts). A gaggle of entertaining performances stud this comically violent and typically convoluted crime story which moves along at a hurtling pace. While never reaching the heights of Snatch or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, RocknRolla is a solid piece of entertainment.
Cop movies are my thing, which is one of the main reasons why I enjoyed Pride and Glory (***) a lot more than most critics did. There's nothing uniquely special about this efficient genre entry, but at the same time, director and co-screenwriter Gavin O'Connor imbues his film with a lot of gritty integrity and the performances, especially those of top-lining stars Ed Norton and Colin Farrell, crackle with intensity. It's a grim, nasty world conjured up by O'Connor, co-scenarist Joe Carnahan, and cinematographer Declan Quinn (who shoots with a darting, jolting intensity), so if you like these types of movies, Pride and Glory will do the trick.
Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona (***) was fun for as far as it went, but considering the hype, I expected a better, richer film. There is a ton of chemistry between all of the super-attractive actors in this sexy movie: Jarvier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Scarlet Johansson, and Rebecca Hall all deliver the goods. It's just that I figured there'd be more in store for the viewer by the film's conclusions, and the mystifying nomination that the Academy bestowed on Cruz for a totally one-dimensional piece of acting grates the nerves, especially when considering that the far more deserving Rosemarie DeWitt from Rachel Getting Married was left out in the cold.