This weekend's releases offer up some tantalizing choices: Do you want to go witty and urbane with a sharply observed dinner comedy from France? Or would you rather indulge in a gritty, adrenaline-fueled historical action film? Why not see both? (Oh, that's MMP for you -- always willing to take the bold stand.)
In Change of Plans a group of friends get together for a lovely, summer dinner party. But since the festivities are being presided over by director Danièle Thompson -- who previously gave us such sly inquests into human behavior as Cousin Cousine and Avenue Montaigne and here uses an unusual, fractured timeline to give us frequent glimpses into the attendee's futures -- the social niceties will not be all they seem and the relationships, sexual and otherwise, are going to be more elaborate than anyone could imagine. With some cleverly crafted plot complications and a good cast -- including Dany Boon, Emmanuelle Seigner, Thompson's son Christopher, and the very fetching Blanca Li as an outsider dancing instructor -- this is a sly, subtle, and ultimately sweet observation of human frailty and resilience.
Centurion tends to focus on the resilience side of human existance, what with swords, hatchets, and various other implements of death being wielded hither and yon and a small clutch of battle-scarred soldiers trying to survive their onslaughts. Based on the historical myth of a legion of Roman warriors who vanished into the mists of northern Britain, never to return, Neil Marshall's violent imagining of their fate offers a propulsive adventure in which Michael Fassbender's dedicated centurion seeks to lead a small band of soldiers out of enemy territory while being hunted down by a relentless Pict tracker (played by Olga Kurylenko, whose inspirational physique would make anyone wish that surrender was an option). And if you remember Marshall from Dog Soldiers and The Descent, you know that once the narrative gets going, it'll be at least as relentless as the soldier's adversaries, and once things get violent, man, you'd better duck (and this isn't even in 3D!). A fitting way to commemorate the end of summer methinks.
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