Check Into the Intimate “28 Hotel Rooms”

This is definitely the Chris Messina’s year. From guest and starring roles on TV shows like Newsroom, Damages, and The Mindy Project to roles in films like Argo, Ruby Sparks, and Celeste & Jesse Forever, Messina has fully invaded the pop culture consciousness. And in 28 Hotel Rooms he finally gets his own lead role.

tumblr_mdwn7r5njS1r8enjwo1_1280Also starring Marin Ireland (from guest roles on Homeland and Boss), 28 Hotel Rooms follows the affair between these two characters as it progresses through 28 different hotel rooms. He plays a writer who goes through a series of girlfriends. She plays an accountant who has recently gotten married. After meeting up in a hotel bar, the two begin a romance that starts as passionate sex and grows into a much stronger connection. (And in the entire film we never learn their names!)
From writer/director Matt Ross (normally seen acting: Big Love, American Horror Story: Asylum), this deeply intimate film portrays an adulterous affair in an almost positive light. Hotel Rooms doesn’t necessarily promote adultery, but it is hard to watch this film and not root for them to get together, while simultaneously disliking their respective significant others. Part of this is because we only ever see these two actors, but part of this is because the chemistry between Messina and Ireland is so incredible that you just feel they belong together.

The intimacy of the film makes it very easy to get engrossed in the characters, and 28 Hotel Rooms is definitely a character-driven piece. The 28 different rooms–and encounters—occur over the course of a couple of years, slowly depicting how their lives shape. But it’s less about the plot and more about their passion. It’s a destructive and explosive relationships that could either implode on itself or bring ruin to those closest to them, and after the last hotel room it is up to you to decide how exactly it will go.

Open Your Mind to the Twisty World of “Looper”

Time travel has been discovered and subsequently outlawed. By 2074, the mob now uses it to get rid of people by sending the target back 30 years so that one of their looper agents can kill and dispose of the body without detection. This well-established technique gets put to the test when Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) fails to close his own loop by killing his older self (Bruce Willis). Now, young Joe must chase after old Joe to protect the life he currently has.
But old Joe has a mind of his own. A menacing threat has arisen in the future and ruined the perfect life he had created for himself. He uses his banishment to the past to track down and eliminate the perpetrator. But establishing trust is not something that Joe has ever been good at, and working alone proves to be very dangerous.
Writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick) has crafted a twisty and thought-provoking sci-fi thriller that easily toys with your emotions. He uses classic sci-fi tropes to examine how our actions in the present effect our future—and, technically, vice versa. As each new layer of the story is revealed, the interconnectedness of the film grows more complex and fascinating.
Gordon-Levitt, in heavy makeup to resemble his future self, easily becomes a sympathetic hero. Willis, however, vacillates between hero and villain seamlessly, leaving you unsure whether you want him to succeed or not. Emily Blunt pops into the film for a very important role, but any ingenuity she brings to the role is quickly overshadowed by her son Cid (Pierce Gagnon). Gagnon is both adorable and terrifying in his role, which is extraordinary considering he’s only about 10 years old. He’s single-handedly the best thing about the film.
While an appreciation of sci-fi makes the film extremely entertaining, it’s not a requirement. Looper, like all films, is about relationships, making it accessible to all audiences as long as they are capable of opening their minds a little.

You’ll Go Crazy for “Seven Psychopaths”

After teaming up for In Bruges, writer/director Martin McDonagh and lead actor Colin Farrell are at it again. Seven Psychopaths blends graphic violence with irreverent humor while telling a very meta story, this time in LA. The title refers to the screenplay that Farrell’s Marty is attempting to write, weaving the tales of seven different psychopaths together. With the help of his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), he begins to base the characters off real-life psychopaths, slowly mixing the real world with his fictional one.
Billy himself is a psychopath. Working with Hans (Christopher Walken), he steals peoples dogs and keeps them until the owners post a reward for finding their dog. Hans then swoops in with the pet and makes some cash in the process. Everything begins to go wrong when Billy dognaps the beloved pet of raging psychopath Charlie (Woody Harrelson).
McDonagh does a superb job of bringing Marty’s script to life on screen, while using repetitive imagery to show how the script is invading Marty’s real life. All of which makes for a humorous commentary about storytelling structure and screenwriting (especially the exceedingly meta car scene in which Marty, Billy, and Hans discuss how the movie should end—both the one they’re writing and the one they’re living). Twists and turns abound as we discover who the seven psychopaths are and speed towards a very satisfying climax.
Farrell has already proved his comedic capabilities with In Bruges, and he continues to charm and amuse in Psychopaths. Rockwell, too, has great comedic chemistry with Farrell and Walken. And, of course, Harrelson makes for a great unhinged villain (along with his head henchman played by Zeljko Ivanek).
In the end, Psychopaths is an underrated film that will amuse and enthrall you through every minute. Be sure to check it out in theaters and then go watch the stellar In Bruges.