"Trance" (R) -- After a priceless painting is stolen, one of the thieves can't quite remember where he put it. It's all because of a bang on the head suffered by art dealer Simon (James McAvoy) during the heist. The gangster in charge of the robbery (Vincent Cassel) hires a gorgeous hypnotist (Rosario Dawson) to delve into Simon's mind and find out where he stashed the painting. The lines between memory and reality, lies and truth all start to twist as each scene adds another layer of intrigue.
Written and directed by Danny Boyle (creative force behind "Slumdog Millionaire"), "Trance" will keep your attention, despite all the confusion. Boyle is an accomplished director who deploys visual spectacle with care. Even with a story so murky, Boyle is able to make all of the head-scratching pay off.
"Ginger and Rosa" (PG-13) -- This 1960s coming-of-age drama makes a stark contrast with the one discussed above: this one is actually good. In 1962 London, Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) are teenagers and best friends. Ginger becomes involved in the ban-the-bomb movement, and she becomes fixated on fixing the looming threat of nuclear war. Rosa is more interested in boys and church -- an odd combination, but this is a movie about people who are on the edge of self-awareness. Interesting conflicts and characters arise, all orbiting around a stellar performance from Fanning.
"Welcome to the Punch" (R) -- This is another British crime thriller starring James McAvoy, but unlike "Trance" discussed above, this one is not good. In a world where all lights must be blue-filtered and constantly swinging around, a cop (McAvoy) and criminal mastermind Jacob Sternwood (Marc Strong) foster a deadly grudge. The game is stepped up when Jacob's son is shot. This movie sure loves its gunplay, but doesn't know what to do with it. The excitement-per-bullet factor is disturbingly low for a movie with so much bangbang.
DOG OF THE WEEK
"Love and Honor" (PG-13) -- Two soldiers in the Vietnam War make a trip back to the United States while they're on leave -- one of them needs to check up on his girlfriend, and the other one (Liam Hemsworth) is going along for the laughs. However, it's 1969, and now everyone under the age of 35 is a hippie (that's how it happened, right?) The first guy's girlfriend isn't his anymore, and Hemsworth hooks up with a cute, anti-war blonde (Teresa Palmer) because he made up a story about being AWOL.
The script, I strongly suspect, must have been written by a lovesick 13-year-old after watching "Forrest Gump." Occasionally, a character makes some kind of heavy-handed speech. It's nobody's idea of good drama -- watching attractive people joylessly recite whatever bland nonsense they were told to memorize.