In Theaters: 10/28/11

Wesley Emblidge

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Welcome to the brand new Tam News column, “In Theaters,” which once a week will inform you about the latest films in theaters and where’s the best to see them. Bear in mind that unless I say so (such as with this week’s “Like Crazy”) I have not seen these films, I am simply making predictions.

In Time

Director Andrew Niccol has a knack for complex premises, his career began with writing and directing “Gattaca,” which was set in a future where humans are discriminated by their genes rather than appearance. His newest film similarly is set in a different future, but in this film, time has replaced money as the primary currency the human race uses. Justin Timberlake (continuing to try his best to be a real actor) plays Will Salas, a poor man, or rather, a man without much time. He is given near a century of time from a man who felt he had lived too long, and commits suicide. However police are given the impression Salas stole the time and killed the man, and Salas is forced into hiding.

On the one hand, Niccol has made a number of great films, he was even nominated for an oscar for writing “The Truman Show.” However he has also made a number or fairly mediocre ones, such as his last, “Lord of War.” So it’s difficult to tell which side he’s brought to this production, but in watching trailers, it seems the focus has been made more on showing the world rather than acting or characters. The casting in particular seems just wrong, Timberlake does not feel like an action star, or a depressed/serious person. Timberlake as an actor should be essentially playing a version of himself, in order to perform well. Others such a Cillian Murphy however, as an agent tracking Salas, are great additions that I welcome.

In the end the film will likely be overcome by the complexity of it’s basic idea, and although might be entertaining to see the idea play out, it seems like the execution wasn’t all that great. I say, wait for it on DVD.

“In Time” is playing at Larkspur Landing and Northgate. I recommend Larkspur Landing.

The Rum Diary

Nowadays, Johnny Depp is best known for playing a pirate or always being an odd character in a Tim Burton film. But before he took on the iconic role in the “Pirate of the Caribbean” films, one of Depp’s best roles was in the 1998 film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” where Depp played the writer Hunter S. Thompson. The film was based on Thompson’s drug trips and adventures in Las Vegas during the early 70s. Depp was fantastic as the drugged insane writer, and he’s back in the role again, in another one of Thompson’s works, “The Rum Diary.” This is considered a work of fiction, and the lead character isn’t actually named Thompson, but is supposedly based on his experiences, and the character is doubtlessly him.

Now, the director has been essentially inactive for over a decade, so one cannot gain much from him. However Depp hasn’t made the best choices film wise lately, apart from voicing a character in this year’s “Rango,” his past few “The Tourist,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” were all torn apart by critics. However the source material is solid, and Depp is a good talent no matter what he’s in. Likely the film won’t reach the level of insanity that “Fear and Loathing” did over a decade ago, but should still be enjoyable. I say, if the premise appeals to you, see it in theaters.

“The Rum Diary” is playing at Northgate.

Like Crazy

Here thankfully, I can actually tell you about the film, since I was able to see it a few weeks ago. What I can tell you is, this is a great film. The performances of Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Fright Night) and Felicity Jones (The Tempest) elevate the film past it’s somewhat cliche premise. The two play college students, one of whom (Jones) is an exchange student from England. The two start a relationship, but when Jones stays past her visa, she is banned from the states. And so then them film leads into the whole long distance-relationship-problems aspect, but manages to pull it off without feeling to fake or obvious. It’s full of great music, performances, and truly just makes you feel. It’s very depressing and heartbreaking, but if you can handle that, I say see it in theaters.

“Like Crazy” is unfortunately not yet even playing in San Francisco. I strongly recommend seeing it when it hopefully comes to the city next week.

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In Theaters: 10/28/11