Scarlett Johansson in “Under the Skin”
PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Rio 2” (G) — This singing animated sequel revisits Rio to follow Blu and Jewel, the endangered blue birds who got together in the last movie, as they journey into the Amazon to meet Jewel’s family. Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) still has his anxious city-slicker persona, which causes him to be the butt of much judgment and ridicule from the jungle birds, especially his father-in-law (voiced by Andy Garcia). You also get some plots about an evil businessman, a vengeful cockatoo and a turf war with parrots.
Expect more of the same stuff from the prequel, with more noise and color added. There are a few chuckles, but all of them from the easy and familiar brand of kids’ comedy. The brightest spots in the whole display are the musical numbers — combining rich vocal talent, brilliant visuals and strong music direction.
“Under the Skin” (R) — A beautiful woman in a white van asks a young man on a street in Scotland if he wants a ride. One look in the window, and all he sees is Scarlett Johansson’s lovely visage. Of course he gets in. Too bad the gorgeous driver is an alien, gathering human victims for some unknown purpose. The alien never reveals much about her origin or what she’s doing, but eventually she shows signs of some internal development.
Johansson’s sex appeal isn’t used as a blunt tool to subdue the audience, rather her performance is so good that you sense how uncomfortable she is with this weird contraption we call the human body. This is a unique and engaging movie experience that tends to leave folks scratching their heads — in a good way.
“The Face of Love” (PG-13) — Several years after her husband drowned, Nikki (Annette Bening) believes that she has found the strength to move on. However, her facade starts to crumble when Nikki encounters Tom (Ed Harris), an art teacher who bears a striking resemblance to her late husband (also played by Harris). Suddenly, she’s confused, excited, depressed, infatuated — all this and more, all at the same time. It’s a challenging role, and Bening handles it with stunning grace. However, the script and the pacing of the film are not as impressive.
“Wrinkles” — This animated movie for grownups looks in on a nursing home for the elderly, where a handful of tenants know how to keep things interesting. Emilio (voiced by Martin Sheen) is a former bank manager who gets put into a retirement home after his memory starts to fade and grumpiness takes over. Once on the inside, he meets up with Miguel (George Coe), a clever and rebellious old-timer who shows Emilio a few tricks and takes him on like a brother. The animation style is clean and hand-drawn, creating a different mood from today’s busy computer-generated fare.
“Hell on Wheels: Season 3”
“Orphan Black: Season 2”
“Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove: Season 1”
“Case Histories Set 2”
© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.