Weekend Movie Guide 01/19: 'Red Tails' Get 'Incredibly Close' to 'Miss Bala'

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Stephanie Sigman as Laura in the Canana and Fox International Productions film MISS BALA.

In rough cuts of Star Wars, George Lucas spliced in WWII pilot footage where the space battles were incomplete. With Red Tails, Lucas' latest (and potentially last) blockbuster, the filmmaking force cycles back to making a full war film. Red Tails relays the triumph of the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black squadron who fought like hell for a country that still treated them as second-class citizens.

Lucas recently told Jon Stewart he wanted to make the film "inspirational for teenage boys". The Tuskegee Airmen are a natural fit for his universe of outsider youth, equal parts cogs resisting the machine, down-home drag-racers & Rebel Alliance. The cast includes Cuba Gooding Jr. (who previously played an Airman for HBO), Terrence Howard, Method Man, Tristan Wild ("The Wire", the new "90210") & relative newcomer Nate Parker. Equally noteworthy is the black involvement in telling their story behind the camera. Director Anthony Hemingway ("The Wire", "Treme") dusts the popcorn flick with a touch of grit. John Ridley (Three Kings, Undercover Brother) wrote the screenplay along with Aaron McGruder, who criticized Star Wars' racial stereotypes a long time ago in a Boondock far, far away.

It's rather fitting that Miss Bala is Mexico's Academy Awards submission for Best Foreign Language Film. The Oscar hopeful follows a beauty contestant (Stephanie Sigman) as she goes for the gold - the title of Miss Baja California. But the drug trade ends up pursuing her, as a violent gang captures her and forces her into trafficking. Inspired by a real news story, the trailer bowled us over with its muted colors & rough, raw action pieces. Miss Bala opens in Westwood & Pasadena.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close opened locally in limited release around the holidays (this column was on a brief hiatus), and platforms into a wide release this weekend. The drama marks an evolution in Hollywood's coping with 9/11. First came the hushed removal of the Twin Towers in films like Zoolander. Then came a visceral replaying of events in United 93 & World Trade Center, as if there was some way to go back and fix it. With this adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel comes acceptance of loss and attempts to move forward. The story follows an autistic boy (first-timer Thomas Horn) as he attempts to move forward and reconcile the loss of his father (Tom Hanks) in the attack. Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) directs from Eric Roth (Forrest Gump)'s adapted script.

Full list appears below. What will you be watching this weekend?

Wide Release
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Reviews) (Showtimes)
Haywire (Reviews) (Showtimes)
Red Tails (Reviews) (Showtimes)
Underworld: Awakening (Reviews) (Showtimes) (3D Showtimes)

Limited Release
Carol Channing: Larger Than Life (Reviews) (Nuart Theatre)
Coriolanus (Reviews) (The Landmark)
The Flowers of War (Reviews) (The Landmark) (Laemmle's Playhouse 7)
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos (Downtown Independent)
In the Land of Blood and Honey (Reviews) (Laemmle's Noho 7) (Laemmle's Playhouse 7)
Loosies (Reviews) (Laemmle's Music Hall 3)
Man on a Mission (Reviews) (Laemmle's Music Hall 3) (Laemmle's Playhouse 7)
Miss Bala (Reviews) (Regent Theatre) (Laemmle's Playhouse 7)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Reviews) (Arclight Hollywood) (Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex) (Laemmle's Playhouse 7) (Laemmle's Town Center 5)

See you at the movies!