DON’T BREATHE [R] A
Often, as a critic, I end up watching movies in a state of isolation, locked in my head and the need to take notes, but I certainly appreciate it when an opportunity comes along that forces me to close the book, become a part of the collective audience, and roll with the punches. Fede Alvarez, the man behind the “Evil Dead” reboot, with “Don’t Breathe” has crafted the kind of white-knuckle thriller that might cause us to question whether it is “scary” or not, but no one will doubt its bona fides as a rollercoaster ride that needs to be shared. Whether you jump or not during certain key sequences, you will find yourself shocked by a twisting turn or two, and truly frightened by the presence of Stephen Lang as a blind man with a deep dark secret or two, fighting off a trio of home invaders. I won’t say any more. Just go see it, with a live and raucous audience, for yourself.
HANDS OF STONE [R] D+
Boxing aficionados will likely turn out to see this Jonathan Jakubowicz dramatization of the classic rivalry between Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) and Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond) with legendary trainer Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro) working the Duran corner, and they will probably be disappointed in the fight sequences. “Hands of Stone” doesn’t spend as much time in the ring as recent fight flicks like “Creed” and “Southpaw,” or do anything revolutionary with its presentation of those scenes. And it also falters on the narrative front, bumbling Duran’s conflicted feelings about America (caught up in a flip-flop over its relationship with Panama) and his absent American father. Yet, the three leads deserve a measure of praise for investing a degree of depth in their characters, on a moment-to-moment basis, which sadly never coalesces into a whole and coherent movie.