New releases opening this week

"Relax! These bubbles can only be burst by bad reviews!"

Storm a-comin'. No, not the silly twister in Oz the Great and Powerful that isn't one-half as scary as the twister in a similar film whose name escapes me at the moment. I mean the rain and hail that are pelting San Diego, driving you to seek the comfort and security of your local multiplex, or better still, the San Diego Latino Film Festival.

So what's new? Well, that Oz film I mentioned. You probably haven't heard of it. It stars indie darling James Franco as a carnival magician - very retro. Directed by the guy who did Evil Dead.

Emperor continues Hollywood's love-affair with craggy old-man faces: this time, we get Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur. But mostly we get Matthew Fox as a general investigating the Japanese emperor in the aftermath of WWII. A slight film - surprising, given the subject matter - that nonetheless suggests a viable career for Fox as a strong-jawed soldierly type.

Speaking of World War II, Barbara is set in post-war Germany. (Well, 1980 - really post-war.) Scott thought it was outstanding! In England, stories of capable doctors exiled to small towns are played for laughs. (Hi, Doc Marten!) In Germany, laffter is verboten. It's all tension, all the time.

Speaking of capable doctors, Yossi tells us that even Israeli cardiologists can have lousy, lonely personal lives - especially when their gay lovers died in combat ten years earlier. Will Yossi get his groove back? Maybe. Will he be humiliated along the way? Definitely.

Speaking of lousy personal lives, Colin Farrell loses his family to a crime boss in Dead Man Down. How do you think Colin Farrell responds to that? Not by devoting himself to a life of prayer and good works, I'll tell you that much.

Speaking of good works, my favorite part of Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey is the fact that Arnel Pineda works as hard as he does to keep his family together. Fronting Journey? It pays the bills. And buys a house.

Finally, Greedy Lying Bastards is not nearly as much fun as its title makes it sound. Were you hoping for a sequel to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? I know I was.

Don't forget about that Latino Film Festival!

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