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CAPSULE MOVIE REVIEWS

Service glitches at the 'ATM'

April 06, 2012|Glenn Whipp and Sheri Linden and Gary Goldstein and Robert Abele
  • This scene from "MIS: Human Secret Weapon" shows Harry Fukuhara interrogating a prisoner of war.
This scene from "MIS: Human Secret Weapon" shows Harry Fukuhara… (MIS FILM Partners )

It's 1 in the morning. It's 5 below zero. Investment advisor co-workers David (Brian Geraghty), Emily (Alice Eve) and Corey (Josh Peck) have stopped at a remote, glass-enclosed ATM to grab some cash. While inside, they notice a stranger, face obscured by a hooded parka, staring at them from the parking lot. Is he just waiting his turn or does he have something else on his mind?

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, April 07, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
"Delicacy": A review of "Delicacy" in the April 6 Calendar section listed Laemmle's Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles as one of the theaters where the movie is playing. It is not screening there.

The tedious thriller "ATM" dawdles for nearly 20 minutes before finally arriving at this set-up, time wasted flimsily establishing its characters. (David has a crush on Emily. She likes him back. Corey is a world-class meathead. You don't want any of them handling your money.) Director David Brooks proves more economical when it comes to meting out dramatic tension. Our trio barely has time to muse on Parka Stranger's intent before he brutally murders a passing dog walker.

The next hour preposterously plays out in and around the ATM as the young threesome must decide what to do. Since the glass door requires an ATM card for entry, they're presumably secure. Only ... the door's broken. Only ... the killer doesn't know that. Or does he?

Screenwriter Chris Sparling worked in confined spaces to far better effect before with the minimalist Ryan Reynolds thriller "Buried." He must have used his best ideas there.

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Glenn Whipp

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"ATM." MPAA rating: R for violence and terror. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica.

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Human ties hold 'Attenberg'

From the gangly awkwardness of its opening scene -- a pleasure-free lesson in kissing -- it's clear that "Attenberg" aims to provoke. Its bored young characters and flat-affect performances recall another innovative Greek drama, "Dogtooth." But rather than the pitch-dark absurdity of that recent film, writer-director Athina Rachel Tsangari centers hers on a welling sense of grief and hope. Using occasional song-and-dance numbers with a melancholy Godardian kick, she creates a world that's off-center and alive with loneliness.

The kissing instructor is Bella (Evangelia Randou), and her uninspired student is best friend Marina (Ariane Labed), a 23-year-old virgin facing the imminent death of her single-parent father (an affecting performance by Vangelis Mourikis). Their bond is expressed in word games and uninhibited conversation, and their hospital visits are intimate vignettes of love and desolation amid the droning machinery.

An architect, he casts a mournful eye on the ugliness of their coastal town. Tsangari uses the setting powerfully, from the drab hotels to the factory complex of rusty tanks and belching smokestacks. The lapping surf, heard more than seen, pulses beneath the fumbling human interactions. Those include Marina's unlyrical sexual initiation with an engineer ("Dogtooth" director Yorgos Lanthimos), with whom she shares an appreciation of the band Suicide.

The film's title refers to Bella's mispronunciation of the name Attenborough, as in David. His nature documentaries are a key source of fascination and solace for Marina, as she tries to step outside the human condition to understand it.

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Sheri Linden

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"Attenberg." No MPAA rating; in Greek with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hours, 37 minutes. At Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica; Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena.

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Light is shined on pollution

Air pollution, water pollution and even noise pollution have been in the zeitgeist for years, but light pollution? If that topic seems a tad under the radar, the excellent documentary "The City Dark" may put an end to that.

Writer-producer-director Ian Cheney's poetic, at times profound, film sheds, well, light on how the constant increase of modern-day artificial illumination has brightened our urban -- and many suburban -- night skies to the point that the stars and planets can often barely be seen.

Cheney, a Maine native who longs for the star-studded firmament of his youth, travels to New York, Chicago, South Florida, Maui and other locations to examine light pollution's many ill effects. These include increased breast cancer risk in night-shift workers, the death of countless disoriented birds and sea turtles and a growing inability to detect potentially fatal asteroids. Think that sounds overly alarmist or conspiratorial? Think again.

Interviews with amateur and professional astronomers, lighting designers, writers, historians and scientists informatively flesh out the film's eye-opening themes and inquiries. But it's an evocative visit to rural Arizona's Sky Village mountain community that reminds us that in some darkened corners one can still clearly behold the glittering universe above -- even if those vantage points have become fewer and farther between.

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Gary Goldstein

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"The City Dark." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.

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'Delicacy' seen in glimpses

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