Capsule reviews for March 1

Phantom

This waterlogged Cold War submarine thriller claims to be inspired by true events, but that’s by the loosest of definitions. It fictionalizes the drama aboard a Soviet vessel with a covert mission and a captain (Ed Harris) who’s haunted by past secrets on his final voyage before retirement. The submarine is further jeopardized by the presence of a rogue operative (David Duchovny) with a hidden agenda. The claustrophobic setting generates some mild suspense, but the script by director Todd Robinson (Lonely Hearts) is filled with flat characters, wooden dialogue and clumsy twists. At least it seems to have a working knowledge of submarine procedures and terminology. (Rated R, 98 minutes).

 

A Place at the Table

Frustrating yet compelling, this straightforward documentary offers an insightful examination of contemporary hunger crises in the United States, where rural families sometimes struggle not only with affording food, but basic access to healthy food. The film profiles various families through interviews and statistics in order to put a human face on a worthwhile issue, and traces the problems to a variety of sources including misplaced government agriculture subsidies. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush find a fresh angle on a familiar and wide-ranging dilemma. It doesn’t offer much in terms of optimism, but provides an eye-opening glimpse into a frequently overlooked social issue. (Rated PG, 84 minutes).

 

War Witch

Childhood innocence amid the brutality of war is examined in this riveting Oscar-nominated drama that follows three years in the life of a precocious girl (Rachel Mwanza) from central Africa who is abducted from her family into a rebel army at age 12, eventually falling in love with a fellow soldier (Serge Kanyinda) and later becoming pregnant under the harshest of circumstances. The script by Canadian director Kim Nguyen intentionally avoids specific context surrounding the conflict, opting for a more character-based coming-of-age story that features bold performances (especially newcomer Mwanza) and resonates with authenticity. Brutal without turning exploitative, the result is harrowing and heartbreaking. (Not rated, 90 minutes).

Comments

  1. Bart says:

    “At least it seems to have a working knowledge of submarine procedures and terminology. ”

    Ha! I thought exactly the same when thinking of something good in this movie.

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