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Three Thousand Years of Longing: Your heart's desire?

She goes on the requisite shopping spree at the bazaar and buys a glass vessel.
Credit: United Artists


Idris Elba appearing out of nowhere in my hotel room? Yes, please! But this movie is not quite that fantasy. A self-assured academic, played perfectly by Tilda Swinton, is visiting Istanbul. She goes on the requisite shopping spree at the bazaar and buys a glass vessel. Back at the hotel, she washes it and out pops a genie, or a 'Djinn' as they're called in this culture. If Elba's charisma isn't enough, his genie-ness physically fills the room. He offers Swinton three wishes in exchange for his freedom. Swinton's 'Alithea' is a scholar of storytelling, a 'narratologist,' so she's more than happy to hear in great narrative detail how he got into this predicament in the first place. That's where this story gets off course for the audience, spending way too much time in fantastical tales from the Djinn's way-back-when and not focusing on the story that could be unfolding between them. Will the practical and passionless 'Alithea' ever allow him to grant her heart's desire? She might just surprise you.

    "Three Thousand Years of Longing" is directed by George Miller who's behind classics as varied as "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Babe: Pig in the City." He is quite the storyteller himself, earning every right to present his film as he wants to. In this case, I just think his magic is misplaced. There's so much more that could have been explored and been even more captivating.

     (United Artists. Rated R. Running Time 1 hr. 48 mins. In Theaters Only)


Maybe there's good reason John Boyega is saying goodbye to his dull character, 'Finn,' in the "Star Wars" universe. He's a fine actor and proves it in "Breaking." Based on a true story, he plays a Marine veteran who believes he's owed a disability payment by the Veterans Administration and is getting no satisfactory resolution. So, he goes to a bank and tells the teller he has a bomb. He doesn't want the bank's money, he just wants to draw attention to his plight, so the V.A. will make good. He's so polite to his two employee hostages, (Selenis Leyva, Nicole Beharie) he even offers bathroom breaks! Meanwhile, he reaches out to his beloved young daughter by phone and we become aware of an ex-wife. The film also features one of the final roles by Michael K. Williams as a negotiator and fellow Marine. Connie Britton plays a news producer who tries to help over the phone.

Some are comparing "Breaking" to Al Pacino's "Dog Day Afternoon." (Oddly, that true life incident happened 50 years ago this week!) Fair enough. We sympathize with the 'bad guy.' But this is more intimate, and the lead's laid-back demeanor almost reduces the intensity of the drama. Do yourself a favor, don't read up on what happens before you see this. It'll ruin it. As for 'Finn' being finished? Okay by me.

(Bleecker Street Media. Rated PG-13. Running Time 1 hr. 43 mins. In Theaters Only)

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