Picks of the Week
(R, 104 minutes, Fox): Danny Boyle plays fast and loose with reality in “Trance,” a trippy thriller about an amnesiac man who gets hypnotized in order to remember where he has hidden a stolen, multimillion-dollar painting.
You’re never quite sure whether what you’re seeing is actually happening or merely the result of a character’s post-hypnotic suggestion. That’s one of the film’s pleasures.
James McAvoy plays Simon, an employee of an art auction house who, after a blow to the head, forgets what he has done with a canvas he’s helping a gang of criminals steal. Vincent Cassel plays Franck, the suave yet ruthless mobster who will stop at nothing to get the painting. And Rosario Dawson plays Elizabeth, the opportunistic hypnotherapist Franck hires to unlock Simon’s unconscious. There’s a little too much happening in the film’s violent, frenetic conclusion, which involves the retrieval of fractured memories, the confession of betrayals and so many narrative loops within loops that the film’s big reveals never make satisfying sense. Maybe it’s not supposed to.
In the end, Simon isn’t the only one who gets bashed on the head by “Trance.”
Contains violence and torture, obscenity, sex and nudity.
Extras: “Hypnotherapy,” “The Look,” “The Power of Suggestion-Making Trance,” “The Final Rewrite.” On Blu-ray: deleted scenes; a Boyle retrospective, “Danny’s Film Noir;” and “Trance Unraveled” Easter egg.
‘Ginger and Rosa’
(PG-13, 89 minutes, Studio): This is an intimate but utterly universal portrayal of a girl’s coming-of-age in the midst of social turmoil and upheaval.
In the 1960s, the phrase “the personal is political” became a familiar shibboleth; here, it just as easily pertains to a teenager as she grows into her own power and grapples with the end of worlds writ large and small.
Elle Fanning plays Ginger, who as a 17-year-old in 1962 London is still inseparable from Rosa (Alice Englert), her best friend since birth. They do everything together. She’s encouraged in her tentative activism by her father, a pacifist professor, as well as her godfathers, a gay couple.
Her mother, Natalie, is more wary. The dynamics between her and Rosa become exponentially more complicated, as Ginger experiences a series of betrayals.
As an affectionate but tough meditation on how political and religious dogma can blot out and distort basic human compassion, “Ginger & Rosa” simultaneously evokes its era and widens into a transcendent portrayal of youthful idealism and hard-won wisdom.
Contains profanity and mature, disturbing thematic material involving sexuality, drinking and smoking.
Extras: deleted scenes, cast interviews, an audio commentary with writer-director Sally Potter and two behind-the-scenes featurettes.
(R, 108 minutes, in French with English subtitles, Entertainment One): Thanks to an unscrupulous sperm bank — which over two years ended up giving out one pseudonymous donor’s nearly daily deposits to all its female clients, David Wozniak (aka Starbuck) wakes up 20 years later to discover that he has produced a seemingly miraculous 533 offspring.
That news gets delivered to David (Patrick Huard) by a lawyer for the children, 142 of whom have banded together to file a class action suit, demanding to know the identity of their biological father. Almost immediately upon receiving an envelope containing the identities of his progeny, David begins surreptitiously tracking them down. One by one, he begins bestowing a belated parental influence on them.
David himself is transformed by the sudden announcement that his girlfriend (Julie LeBreton) is pregnant. After a lifetime as a commitment-phobic loser, David comes to realize that parenting actually begins before your child is born, not after the kid has graduated from college.
It’s silly and a bit sappy, but it works, in a crowd-pleasing way.
Contains obscenity, nudity, illegal drugs and sexual content. Extras: Deleted scenes, bloopers, music video. WashingtonPost