Day of the Falcon, Easy Money, Wuthering Heights 


click to enlarge Day of the Falcon DVD

Day of the Falcon (R)

Image Entertainment

Jean-Jacques Annaud is widely regarded as one of our greatest living filmmakers, so to see his latest feature film relegated to straight-to-DVD release is disheartening. And Day of the Falcon actually should have been prime Oscar-bait, too — it's truly an epic on par with, yes I'll say it, Lawrence of Arabia. Set in the Middle East in the early 20th century, it's an exploration (maybe even an explanation) of how the region became known as one of the richest oil producers in the world, and the massive turf war that sprang from it. Antonio Banderas and Mark Strong headline as the two warring kings, but the movie really belongs to Tahar Rahim, as the bookwormy bargaining chip who goes on to unite the tribes and take on both kingdoms. Day of the Falcon is truly grand filmmaking that deserves better than this. — Louis Fowler

click to enlarge Wuthering Heights DVD

Wuthering Heights (NR)

Oscilloscope / Release date: April 23

Emily Brontë's sole novel before her death (at age 30 in 1848) is prime material for Fish Tank director Andrea Arnold to adapt for a modern audience: It has cruelty, brutality, 50 Shades of Grey-tinged sexual tension, and those beautifully harsh Yorkshire moors. Arnold makes a few key adjustments, to be sure. Heathcliff (Solomon Glave) is now an escaped slave, and the self-absorption of Catherine (Kaya Scodelario) is ramped up to the point of insular brattiness. But as with the novel, the unforgiving land here is the star of the show. The film goes for full-on stark conditions, and those famous dark and stormy nights at times seem un-survivable. The flaw here is the book: Wuthering Heights is a bore at its core, and stripping the Masterpiece Theater pageantry from it all only highlights its weaknesses. — Justin Strout

click to enlarge Easy Money DVD

Easy Money (R)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

The way that Pulp Fiction spawned countless imitators, so has the recent Ryan Gosling flick Drive. As mediocre as that movie was (I know I'm in the minority in thinking that), the imitators are even more rote and routine. And the recent Swedish import Easy Money (based on the best-selling novel Snabba Cash) is no different. Highly stylized and ultra-gritty, the film stars The Killing's Joel Kinnaman as a lower-class business student doing his best to maintain airs among Stockholm's rich and beautiful jet-set crowd. This is an awfully expensive habit, so he enters into the shady world of drug trafficking and gets mixed up with the Serbian mafia, among other unsavory types. Far too many subplots murk these already unclean waters, making Easy Money, at times, uneasy viewing. A bit of simple editing could have done wonders. — Louis Fowler


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