Tom Doty Times Columnist
March 21, 2014
Two recent box office hits shared space with a cult classic and an excellent horror yarn from Mexico for this week’s rentals.
“American Hustle” — The ABSCAM scandal makes for a comical history tour in this epic length flick from David Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”). The film is as much as a time capsule, with excellent 1970s music and fashions that adorn the story of a hustler who is roped into rooting out corrupt politicians. Turns out, this is more of a witch hunt and they wind up staging an elaborate drama to entice the mayor of Camden, N.J., into backing a faux plan to bring casinos to his city. Great stuff that is well played. Christian Bale steals the show as a conman who rocks a bizarre hair-don’t but has some strong ethics that collide with his assignment. The supporting cast is up to the task and includes Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner (who is very effective here as a politician with a heart but no sense).
“Frozen” — Disney Studios prove they haven’t forgotten how to make effective animated musicals with this hit that was adapted from a story by Hans Christian Anderson. They film follows a princess on a quest to rein in an ice storm that her sister inadvertently unleashed. Along the way she befriends an odd assortment of characters that include a woodsman, a reindeer and a very lively snowman. A very hummable soundtrack for the parents and lots of great action for the kids.
“Horror at 37,000 Feet” — Made for TV movies of the 1970s were low-budget retreads of popular film trends, and this effort manages to mix disaster movie thrills with satanic chills. The result is “Airport” meets “The Exorcist.” A who’s-who of celebrities play unpleasant people on an airplane who turn on each other when a possessed rock begins killing them off. William Shatner steals it as an alcoholic priest who must put down the bottle, pick up a crucifix, and make a speech, before all the passengers are doomed. Unintentionally hilarious and one of my favorite bad movies of all time.
“Here Comes the Devil” — Horror is alive and well and performed in Spanish these days. This film, from Adrian Bagliano, follows a couple who regret letting their kids explore some woods. They don’t return. When the police finally bring the kids home, they are different and appear to have brought back something satanic. Eerie chills ensue as the parents slowly realize that they can’t trust their kids. Super creepy thrills from the director of “Cold Sweat” and “Penumbra.”