This week’s movie releases

Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts head the all-star adaptation of Pulitzer winner August: Osage County Wong Kar-wai profiles the man who trained Bruce Lee in The Grandmaster

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Meryl Streep (center) with Julia Roberts (right) and Julianne Nicholson in August: Osage County.
Meryl Streep (center) with Julia Roberts (right) and Julianne Nicholson in August: Osage County. AP Photo / Toronto International Film Festival

Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts head the all-star cast — which also includes (deep breath) Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Margo Martindale and Dermot Mulroney — drawn in to bring Tracy Letts’ 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County to the big screen. Together they make up the members of the Weston family, who, having gone their separate ways over the years, are wrenched back to the old Oklahoma homestead by a crisis, giving Streep’s ill matriarch the chance to open a whole six pack of family worms that she had hitherto kept secret. West Wing and The Company Men director John Wells calls the shots.

The long-awaited latest from Hong Kong’s Wong Kar-wai, The Grandmaster is the visually flamboyant and action-packed story of legendary martial artist Ip Man. WKW regular Tony Leung stars as the man who would go on to teach Bruce Lee with Zhang Ziyi as his rival Gong Er in a tale set during China’s turbulent republican years in the first half of the last century.

Also in the mood for a fight are Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro in comedy Grudge Match. Riffing off their old Rocky and Raging Bull roles, the pair play ageing rival prizefighters lured back for one last bout several decades after their last encounter.

Literary awakening

The Book Thief is the film adaptation of Australian author Markus Zusak’s bestseller about a little girl (Sophie Nélisse) sent to live with a foster family in Nazi Germany. Taught to read by her new father (Geoffrey Rush), she immerses herself in a world of books she obtains from her neighbors, who include the young Jewish man hiding out in her foster parents’ basement.

The Book Thief is precisely the kind of Hollywoodized depiction of the Holocaust that Claude Lanzmann, the director of documentary masterpiece Shoah (1985), would despise. For him such fictional recreations cannot come close to capturing the horrifying reality of the genocide. It’s a philosophy the 88-year-old continues in his latest film The Last of the Unjust, which comprises interviews conducted in Rome in 1975 with Benjamin Murmelstein, the last president of the Jewish Council of Elders in the Theresienstadt “model” camp in Czechoslovakia, which he decided not to include in the nine-hour final cut of Shoah.

From Argentina, Pensé que iba a haber fiesta stars Spain’s Elena Anaya as an actress who puts her relationship with her best friend in jeopardy when she begins an affair with her ex while housesitting for her.

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