Directed by Michael Mann
Opens January 16
In his new thriller Blackhat, Michael Mann has taken a gamble by asking: is the world ready for a techno-reboot of 48 Hrs., with the wisecracking Eddie Murphy figure replaced by a strapping, 21st century alpha male equally adept at fiddling with laptops, staving villains’ heads in, and making sweet, tender love? Time, and box office receipts, will tell, but he’s found an engaging figure to play said dreamboat in Chris Hemsworth, whose hacker bro Hathaway—in a slick opening passage—is sprung from prison by a small, reluctant FBI-Chinese coalition in order to assist in the pursuit of a faceless global terrorist with cloudy motives and an appetite for destruction. Hathaway’s re-immersion into the hacking game precipitates a gratuitously globetrotting game of cat and mouse.
The Stranger (1946)
Directed by Orson Welles
Time and Edward G. Robinson’s bullheaded Nazi hunter press in on small, standstill New England town, host to a cast of stock, quaint characters, a broken clock tower, and one fugitive Nazi holocaust mastermind (a grimacing, twitchy-eyed, lusterless Welles). Stylish, well paced, and touched with some terrific, craggy faces, not to mention a standout, fall-down ending, The Stranger is great as portrait of pressure and the violence it does—to bodies, hearts, and minds. Less and less Welles’s unknowing wife, Loretta Young flakes off in batty, delicious pieces. Too bad a mechanical plot and some middling performances chill the film from greatness, but that didn’t stop people from seeing it. In fact, The Stranger turned a profit when it hit theaters, a feat no other film the great auteur directed would ever again achieve. Jeremy Polacek (Jan 9, 10, 9:45pm at Film Forum’s Welles centennial)