Monday, May 6, 2013

'Sapphires,' 'Iron Man' (Minus 3D) Worth a Look

There are a couple of--and maybe more--movies in Roanoke right now that are worth your time, for very different reasons. The movies are "Iron Man 3" and "The Sapphires," the latter a foreign (Australian) production that you'd not get in this region without the presence of the Grandin Theatre.

We saw "Iron Man 3" in 3D and that little $3 per ticket surcharge is a complete waste in this instance. This is the kind of movie 3D usually works best in, but I didn't even notice the 3D except a couple of times (when credits were scrolling and when the movie began), so see it in 2D and save yourself about 35 percent on the ticket price for glasses rental.

In any case, I like the "Iron Man" franchise because of the presence of Robert Downey in the title role. He makes an unexpectedly good Sherlock Holmes, too, but that's another seminar. Downey's superhero is anything but super. He's thoroughly flawed--insufferably narcissistic, arrogant, womanizing and self-aggrandizing--but vulnerable and a whole lot more delicate than you'd expect--or even want, I suspect--in your superhero.

The story's the same one you see in every Marvel Comics production: some crazy-assed genius (Guy Pierce) wants to take over the world and only our hero can stop him. He has help here from  Gwenyth Paltrow and Don Cheadle, but the movie is virtually swept from all of them by Ben Kingsley as an actor playing a villain. Funny guy.

"The Sapphires" is a totally unexpected treat, the story of four Aboriginal sisters who are formed into a singing group by a failed white musician who wants so much to be a black soul singer. It is based on a true story (the real sisters are actually far, far more accomplished than you'll get from the movie) that gives you some understanding of the depth of racism in Australia (and in the American army) in 1968, when the girls are sent to Vietnam to entertain the troops.

The music is wonderful, the writing and directing spot-on and the story satisfying. You won't know any of the actors, so I won't point them out, but the ensemble is just right. Can't ask for much more than that and we can all thank the Grandin--again and again--for bringing this type of film to our own cultural outback (in a movie sense, anyway).

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