When in Rome
directed by Mark Steven Johnson
Kristen Bell plays Beth Harper, a curator at the Guggenheim who, despite her professional success, has been unable to find love in New York City. One can easily imagine the opening scene: Beth briskly walks down Fifth Avenue, coffee in hand, on her way to work—subtext immediately clear. “Meet Beth, successful, intelligent, pretty, but… single.” As the title suggests, a trip to Rome is the romantic catalyst of choice, and after a debacle involving a re-imagined Trevi Fountain and a band of misguided suitors, one should expect the first billed Bell to find love with the second billed Josh Duhamel. Despite the predictable story arc, the supporting cast offers some surprising, and refreshing, comic diversity. Will Arnett, semi-famous for his brilliant portrayal of Gob on “Arrested Development,” plays an Italian suitor after Beth’s heart. And Danny DeVito, whose role on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” reminds us of the actor’s comedic breadth, takes on the role of another potential love connection. Then there’s Anjelica Huston, Jon Heder, Bobby Moynihan (“SNL”), Kristen Schaal (“Flight of the Conchords”) and an appearance by Shaquille O’Neal. Kristen Bell, or Veronica Mars to most, offers more spunk than the average female lead and therefore, When in Rome may be more fun than initially expected.
Edge of Darkness
directed by Martin Campbell
Martin Campbell returns to the director’s chair to remake his 1985 BBC television miniseries of the same name, but unlike the award-winning television series, the film version of Edge of Darkness will debut under an umbrella of uncertainty. Mel Gibson stars as Boston homicide detective Thomas Craven, who witnesses the murder of his daughter, and then embarks on a quest for answers and vengeance. This marks the actor’s first starring role since 2002’s Signs and despite the actor’s demonstrated box office cache, it remains to be seen if audiences are ready and willing to forget Gibson’s recent rise to infamy. Also, Robert De Niro was originally slated to co-star, but he reportedly dropped out of the project due to creative differences; he was replaced by Ray Winstone. On a more positive note, Edge of Darkness shares a number of similarities with a very successful Boston crime drama in The Departed: A screenwriter (William Monahan), an actor (Ray Winstone), the locale (Boston) and a producer (Graham King). But despite the considerable talent of the aforementioned individuals (and city), Edge of Darkness seems to reinforce that not all Boston crime dramas are created equal.