AT THE MOVIES | 4/16/09


Opening This Week

(Sports drama, R, 118 minutes).
Intensely human story of a young baseball player from the Dominican Republic who is recruited to an Iowa farm team and finds himself alone and very, very far from home. Not a sports movie but a tender character-driven drama, as his poor family nourishes his dreams. Even a farm league salary is wealth to them all. Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson), starring Algenis Perez Soto in a persuasive, natural performance.
Rating: Three and a half stars.

(Drama, not rated, 92 minutes).
A stark depiction of the imprisonment and starvation of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands in 1981. Deals not with politics but with relentless reality, including an absorbing conversation between Sands and a priest about the utility of his protest. A harrowing lead performance by Michael Fassbender. Directed by the British artist Steve McQueen.
Rating: Three and a half stars.

American Violet
(Drama, PG-13, 103 minutes).
In a small Texas town, a young mother of four is arrested on drug charges in a police sweep even though no drugs were found and her record is clean. Offered a plea bargain, she refuses because she doesnt want a felony on her record, and two lawyers enlist to defend her. Based on a true story; direct and righteous. A winning debut performance by Nicole Beharie, with strong support by Alfre Woodard, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael OKeefe and Will Patton.
Rating: Three stars.