(PG-13, 105 minutes, Sony): In what critics considered a calamity from once-esteemed filmmaker Cameron Crowe, a military contractor (Bradley Cooper) returns to Honolulu, the site of his greatest career triumphs, and reconnects with a long-ago love (Rachel McAdams) while unexpectedly falling for the Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone) assigned to him.
Critic Roger Moore wrote that “Aloha” is the movie that makes you start to see Crowe as being full of it: “Whatever it was going to be – and editing has been a Crowe problem since ‘Elizabethtown’ – ‘Aloha’ has been reduced to a shambling, lurching Hawaiian comedy full of big name actors making long, rushed, declamatory speeches. And every minute or so, there’s another annoying traditional Hawaiian song, or Hawaiian pop or blues or country tune. They’re meant to tie the mess together, to allow the picture to coast along on musical emotions where script coherence is lacking. And they don’t.”
Contains suggestive language. Extras: A cast gag reel and “The Untitled Hawaii Project: The Making of Aloha.”
(R, 114 minutes, RADiUS/Anchor Bay): The 2014 Academy Award-winner for Best Documentary follows director Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s enounters with whistleblower Edward Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room as he hands over classified documents that provide evidence of indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA).
The movie’s completely in the bag for its subject. On camera, Snowden resembles a cross between Seth Rogen’s better-behaved cousin and the lean, owly film director Steven Soderbergh, an executive producer of “Citizenfour.”
The NSA documents revealed the known knowns regarding the U.S. government’s secret collection of Verizon customer information and the extent to which the NSA yanked user data out of the allegedly secure realms of Google, Facebook, YouTube and other information-aggregating time-sucks. The film works, whatever your ethical stance on Snowden, because it’s more procedural than polemic.
Contains profanity. Extras: Bonus scenes; New York Times talk with Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden and David Carr; Film Society of Lincoln Center Q&A with Laura Poitras; “The Program” New York Times Op-Doc by Laura Poitras.
‘Two Days, One Night’
(PG-13, 95 minutes, The Criterion Collection): Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (“La vie en rose”) received another nomination for her performance as Sandra, a working-class woman desperate to hold on to her factory job, in this film from Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.
Sandra’s boss promises other employees 1,000 euros (about $1,500) but says Sandra can stay if they’ll use that money to pay her salary. He figures they’ll refuse, and he won’t be a villain for firing her. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, the writer-directors behind the fine “Rosetta” and “L’Enfant,” subtly reveal reasons people might not want to help her: selfishness, anxiety that they’ll be let go if she isn’t, the belief that the money stands between them and eviction.
Co-workers offer to sacrifice, treat her as disposably as a used tissue, refuse regretfully. Eventually, Sandra wonders whether her quest may damage others more than it helps her family.
This may sound dull, but it isn’t. The Dardennes know how to tell low-key stories effectively, and Cotillard’s performance builds toward the unexpected ending.
In French with subtitles. Contains some mature thematic elements. Extras: Interviews with the Dardennes and actors Cotillard and Fabrizio Rongione; “When Leon M.’s Boat Went Down the Meuse for the First Time” (1979), a 45 minute documentary by the Dardennes, featuring a new introduction by the directors; new tour of the film’s key locations with the directors; trailer; an essay by critic Girish Shambu.
(PG-13, 80 minutes, Magnolia Home Entertainment): A documentary from famed director Albert Maysles on Iris Apfel, the 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. The film is a fascinating study of the poster girl for “Dress to Excess.”
Bangled and bedazzled to the max in her garishly mismatched outfits, wading through her decades of designer duds – and necklaces and bracelets – all topped by champagne-colored hair and glasses the size of demitasse saucers, she is lauded by one and all for “making it work.”
Maysles could have made this another “Grey Gardens,” seeing Apfel as just a sad, shallow and well-heeled hoarder. But Apfel never comes off as eccentric, just singular. She tells Maysles, and young women she meets and others she schools in style the same thing, a life lesson for how to get dressed in the morning in the most competitive city on Earth. “I like...individuality, so much lost these days.” And nobody could ever accuse “Iris” of not practicing what she preaches.
Contains brief coarse language.
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