Movie Tickets: “The Bourne Legacy,” “The Campaign,” “The Imposter”

Our picks for the best in film over the next seven days.
Jason Sudeikis and Will Ferrell in The Campaign. Image courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures.
Jason Sudeikis and Will Ferrell in The Campaign. Image courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures.


The Bourne Legacy

The latest installment in the Bourne series takes a page from the series that it has
largely supplanted, the 007 movies, but rather than simply hiring someone new to take
over from Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, the film replaces him with a Bourne-like character
while still keeping the narrative arc from the previous films intact. The new guy
is
Jeremy Renner, playing Aaron Cross, a super soldier who is also the product of an experimental
government program, and who is also forced to go rogue, this time after the government
decides, in the wake of what went wrong with Bourne, that the program is a liability.

Much like Bourne himself, and now Cross, this series is now off the grid and operating
without orders—Gilroy’s scripts for the previous films may have strayed far from the
source material of Robert Ludlum’s novels, but now they abandon the title character
altogether for entirely uncharted territory. Ludlum only wrote three Bourne books,
but while author
Eric Van Lustbader did pick up the series for a fourth installment that shares a name with this film,
that name is all that’s shared. Gilroy, who co-wrote the previous films, writes an
entirely new story with a new protagonist, within the universe he helped to create
in the previous films. Only now he also sits in the director’s chair for a series
that has been largely defined by the frenetic directorial style of Paul Greengrass
in the past. Which means Renner isn’t the only trying to fill some big shoes on this
one.

View the trailer. Opens today at theaters
across the area.



The Imposter

If you’re looking for a thriller but skeptical of the Bourne reboot, there’s good
news: The hands-down best thriller of the year so far is opening up at E Street. The
surprising thing is that it’s a documentary. Director
Bart Layton examines the case of the disappearance of a Texas teen in 1994. Three years
after Nicholas Barclay had vanished, he turned up in Spain with a harrowing story
of kidnapping and sexual abuse. But the man claiming to be the missing boy looked
nothing like Barclay, was six years too old, and spoke with a French accent. He was
Frédéric Bourdin, a con artist with a pathological need to impersonate other people—but
despite the ridiculousness of his claim to be this missing boy, Barclay’s own family,
astonishingly, actually bought his story.

Layton essentially tells the story from Bourdin’s perspective, letting him describe
events, and liberally employing reenactments to illustrate Bourdin’s stories. While
that might sound slightly hokey, the elegance of the original material Layton shoots,
and its integration into the narration provided by his interviewees, gives the documentary
a narrative drive it might have lacked otherwise. He addresses not just the question
of why the family accepted Bourdin, but also what that might mean about the real circumstances
behind Barclay’s disappearance, causing the final segment of the film to be an edge-of-your-seat
thriller with an ending more daring than fiction would ever allow.

You can read more of my thoughts on the film in this
piece

at the Atlantic.

View the trailer. Opens today at E Street
Cinema
.



The Campaign

Just in time for election season,
Will Ferrell and
Zach Galifianakis poke holes in the overinflated rhetoric of the campaign trail with the story of an
oafish congressman who has long run unchallenged in his district suddenly facing a
fight to keep his seat. Ferrell plays the incumbent, with Galifianakis stepping is
as a political babe in the woods, essentially a stooge propped up by a pair of corporate
bigshots meant to invoke the Koch brothers, using their money to gain political power.
Most advance reviews indicated that the film’s attempts at satire lack some teeth
due to its insistence to keep questions of left or right out of the equation, but
those that do find something to like do so not in its political savvy, but rather
in the absurd farce of the back-and-forth of the campaign trail.

View the trailer. Opens today at theaters
across the area.



Mughal-e-Azam

Though it’s one of the landmarks of Indian cinema, it’s a wonder that director
K. Asif’s epic

Mughal-e-Azam
even exists at all. The productions was plagued with problems, from near bankruptcy
due to the loss of financial backing to a complete recasting of the film prior to
shooting to a production that stretched out over nearly a decade from the start of
shooting. By the time all was said and done, it was by far the most expensive film
ever produced in the country. But all that cash is most certainly up on the screen,
as the film was also hailed for its beauty and grand scope; one scene alone reportedly
employed 8,000 extras, along with 6,000 camels and horses. The movie is based on an
Indian folk tale of a young prince who falls in love with a servant girl.

View the trailer. Saturday at 5:30 PM
at the Freer. Free.

Michelangelo Antonioni Centenary

Italian master Michelangelo Antonioni would have turned 100 next month, and in celebration,
the National Gallery is offering this retrospective covering selected films from his
early work expanding on his apprenticeship in the Italian neo-realist movement and
continuing through the four films that, in the mid-’50s through the early ’60s, formed
a loose stylistic foursome that took him far from those roots into much more experimental,
contemplative territory. This weekend is concentrated on the early films, starting
with his first feature, 1950’s Story of a Love Affair, about a wealthy man investigating his young
wife’s former dalliances. That’s followed by the three morality tales contained within
1952’s
I vinti
, and then
The Lady Without Camelias, about the rise and fall of a shopgirl who
becomes a movie star. That last one is paired with a 1949 short,
Lies of Love.

View the trailer for I vinti. Starting this weekend at the National Gallery of Art. Check the website
for showtimes.

DVD Pick of the Week:

Johnny Guitar

In the 1960s, the Western went from celebration of American exceptionalism to trenchant
critique of American racism, sexism, and violence. But long before that became the
norm for the genre, Nicholas Ray, one of the most subversive directors to work within
the studio system, made
Johnny Guitar, a film American critics despised and that the young radicals who would start the
French New Wave adored. As a result, the film was long much more popular in Europe,
and was so forgotten in the US that this week’s release marks the first time since
a small mid-’90s VHS release that it’s even been available for home viewing in this
country.

While Sterling Hayden takes on the title role, the real star here is
Joan Crawford, who plays a saloon owner who runs afoul of the local cattle ranchers when she supports
a proposed railroad through their land, as well as providing safe haven in her bar
for a gang of stage coach robbers, and haven in her bed for their leader. At a time
when westerns were tough and dusty tales of men being men and women being invisible,
Ray created a technicolor, melodrama-infused Western in which the two strongest characters
were women with leftist leanings and a clear critique of McCarthyism. Due to its scarcity
on home video, this is one of the greatest American films that hardly anyone has seen;
hopefully this release will allow people to rediscover a masterpiece that’s been difficult
to see for more than half a century.

Special Features: An introduction from
Martin Scorsese, recorded for a previous European release.

View a scene from the movie.

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