The latest installment in "The Hunger Games" franchise, "Mockingjay -- Part 1," works hard to ramp up plot intensity, all the while building to a resolution that will come only a year from now in "Part 2." That it succeeds as well as it does comes largely from Jennifer Lawrence's charisma as Katniss Everdeen: strong, self-confident, and principled.
"Out of the Furnace" wants to be a blue collar, gritty film, and it succeeds. Set in Braddock, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) in 2008, the future for the steel mill workers looks about as bleak as the sky and the town. Two brothers pursue different paths: Russell still employed at the mill, younger Rodney floundering, heading off to Iraq.
In a four film series, repeat a similar narrative without imaginative reinvention and invite disappointment. Unfortunately, "Hunger Games: Catching Fire" falls into that category as it repeats the first "Hunger Games'" formula and does it sluggishly. The story picks up after Katniss and Peeta's triumph in the most recent games now celebrated during a multi-district victory tour.
Writer/director Martin McDonagh’s film “Seven Psychopaths” is about, well, truth in labeling, seven psychopaths. As such, some bloody violence punctuates ugly murders that occur at regular intervals. Self-consciously playing this for laughs, the episodic set pieces sometimes work well, but eventually get tedious as the truly comic moments merely punctuate slower ones straining to be clever.