cinema

Spielberg and “The Post”: Some thoughts on truth and the movies

I saw “The Post” last night. And the first thing I did when I got home was fire up the computer and test it. How close to the real story was it? What liberties did director Steven Spielberg and his team take with the story of the Washington Post’s publication of the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War?

Local Cinema Watch

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

Hello movie buffs. We’ve got four new movies opening this week at our local cinemas. The Bijou is debuting a film about the rebirth of the electric car and a film about the world’s oldest profession. David Minor also has two new films; a bleak film about the spread of a deadly virus and a story about two men in law enforcement forced to work together despite having two very different approaches.

At the Bijou:

Revenge of the Electric Car: 2011 – Documentary – 90 Mins. – Rated PG-13. Opening on Friday, Jan. 6, at 7 pm.

Back in 2006, director Chris Paine released Who Killed the Electric Car? which examined the birth and death of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in the future.

Five years later, Paine is back with Revenge of the Electric Car which looks at the resurgence of electric vehicles through the eyes of four pioneers of the electric revolution. Given unprecedented access, Paine follows the research and development programs at General Motors, Nissan, Tesla Motors and one part-time electric car converter who refuses to wait for the international car makers to create electric vehicles.

House of Pleasures: 2011 – Drama – 122 Mins. – Not Rated. Debuting on Friday, Jan. 6, at 9 pm.

Set entirely in a Parisian brothel at the turn of the 20th Century, House of Pleasures follows the brothel’s inhabitants; from naive teenagers seeking independence from their families to girls in their late 20s, already considered old.

The film is an unflinching look inside an environment that is anything but sexy. Women are abused, including one who becomes disfigured and others forced to stay for years to pay off debts. With a modernistic soundtrack and stylistic landscapes, House of Pleasures is a unique film and certainly one that goes against the grain.

Still Playing at the Bijou:

Blackthorn: Final two showings on Thursday, Jan. 5, at 4:45 and 9:30 pm.

Mozart’s Sister: Showing at 5:20 pm., Thursday and Friday. Screenings at 2:45 and 5:20 pm., Saturday and Sunday.

Martha Marcy May Marlene: Showing at 7 pm., on Thursday. Showing at 4:45 pm., Friday-Sunday.

Melancholia: Showing at 8 pm., Thursday-Sunday.

Over at David Minor:

Contagion: 2011 – Thriller – 106 Mins. – Rated PG-13. Opening on Thursday, Jan. 5, at  7:30 pm.

Director Steven Soderbergh has assembled an all-star cast in this depressing yet thrilling and accurate portrayal of an infectious disease that spreads across the planet. Seen through the eyes of multiple perspectives including families, CDC employees, politicians and journalists, Contagion perfectly balances the process and paranoia of what might happen if a disease suddenly spread.

Starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet,  Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law and Marion Cotillard, the  film opens with Beth (Paltrow) returning home from a trip  overseas. The following morning, Beth collapses in her  kitchen as her husband, Mitch (Damon), looks on. While  at the hospital, Beth dies and thus begins the spread of a  disease that soon wipes out thousands.

For doctors and administrators at the CDC, they must  identify the type of virus they’re dealing with and then find  a way to combat it. As the disease begins spreading,  order to society begins to crumble and people, from  different walks of life, begin to doubt the future of not only  their lives, but life itself.

 The Guard: 2011 – Comedy – 96 Mins. – Rated R. Opens  on Thursday, Jan. 5, at 5:25 pm.

Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleason) is a small-town  cop with a crass personality and a politically incorrect sense of humor. Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), is a strait-laced FBI agent assigned to Boyle’s small town to help investigate an international drug-smuggling gang. Together this unlikely duo uncover not only drug trafficking, but also murder, blackmail and rural police corruption.

We don’t see enough buddy-cop movies these days and judging by the trailer, The Guard looks like an original black comedy that isn’t afraid to offend.

Still Playing at David Minor:

Cowboys & Aliens: Showing at 5:25 pm., Jan. 5-11.

Midnight in Paris: Showing at 7:30 pm., Jan. 5-11.

Our Idiot Brother: Showing at 9:20 pm., Jan. 5-11.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Showing at 9:20 pm., Jan. 5-11

Where Did the Year Go…

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

Greetings EDN readers. I hope everyone had a nice Christmas and didn’t party too hard on New Years Eve. The end of years is always a little strange to me. In one instant, it’s an entirely new year and for a few seconds I feel a little different, like time has reset itself and I’m starting over again. But after a moment everything goes back to normal and I realize it’s just another day except with a new year attached to it.  But it does help to start with the Ducks winning the Rose Bowl.

Every year we like to come up with New Year’s Resolutions. Why do we do this? It’s because every year at this time we reflect on what we did the previous year and more importantly what we didn’t do that year. Why didn’t I exercise more or read more books? We’re looking for some sort of change so that the new year doesn’t resemble the last one too closely.

But it’s about experiencing new and different things so that when you look at the book of your life there aren’t too many dull chapters to skim through. So when you’re thinking about New Year’s Resolutions don’t think of them as changes or improvements but new experiences. Then you might not quit them after two weeks.

Year-End Movie Recommendations 

It was a very disappointing year for studio films this year. The summer was filled with disappointing sequels (The Hangover Part II, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2), boring action movies (Green Lantern, Cowboys & Aliens Sucker Punch) and movies I forgot about soon after watching them (Larry Crowne, 30 Minutes or Less, The Change-Up, In Time).

But it was a strong year for smaller films. The ones unburdened by big movie studios wanting large profits. In this day and age when we know about almost everything that’s coming out, it’s nice to discover something that takes you by surprise. Here are five movies worth seeing that you might have overlooked or weren’t aware of.

Drive

The coolest movie of the year was Drive which was released in September. Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Albert Brooks, this low key crime drama follows a man known only as Driver (Gosling) who by day is a stuntman for movies and by night, a hired getaway driver for criminals.

As the movie opens he informs his dangerous employers what he will and will not do. “You give me a time and a place and I give you a five minute window. Anything happens in those five minutes and I’m yours. I don’t carry a gun, I drive.”

Driver lives a quiet, somewhat lonely life until a new neighbor, Irene (Mulligan), moves in next door. It’s just her and her son as the father is still in prison. Driver and Irene become friends but when the father is released form prison, he becomes involved in a botched heist which Driver volunteered to be apart of. Now a hit has been put out on Driver and he must end  this feud and protect Irene and her son.

Gosling’s performance is mysterious and simple. There scenes where he barely speaks and perhaps in the hands of another actor might come off as boring, but Gosling is mesmerizing. You don’t quite know what he’ll do next. Another performance worth mentioning is Albert Brooks. The normally funny Brooks is psychotic as a violent hitman out to find Gosling and the girl.

The film is affectively unHollywood. It’s slow paced and has a European vibe to it. Some viewers may become impatient by it’s pace but based on the performances and the cool soundtrack, viewers should see this.

Beginners

Oliver Fields (Ewan McGregor) is a lonely artist living in Los Angeles. He’s recently lost his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) to cancer and gained a dog. In flashbacks, Hal admits to his son at 75 that he is gay. The remaining time he has left is spent being openly gay and dating a much younger man.

Oliver doesn’t have a problem with his father being gay, but to learn that his father has lied to him all these years greatly affects Oliver as he tries to form his own relationships. Following Hal’s death, Oliver becomes despondent and unaware of his surroundings. As his depression worsens, his coworkers decide to invite him to a costume party. While there he meets Anna (Melanie Laurent), a French actress in town filming a movie.

The film intercuts between the present (Oliver and Anna’s relationship) and the past (Oliver and Hal’s relationship). The movie perfectly balances the two chapters in Oliver’s life as he deals with loss and love. McGregor and Laurent have great chemistry onscreen and Plummer gives an Oscar-worthy performance.

Submarine

Oliver Tate is an odd young man. He’s antisocial, very observant and wise beyond his years. He seems to have two objectives presently; lose his virginity before his next birthday and rekindle his parents marriage as an ex-lover of his mother moves in next door.
Years and years of seeing his parents unhappy has made him determined to be the best boyfriend in the world. But after he meets the unpredictable Jordana, his plan begins to change. Now he has to balance his parent’s relationship and his new girlfriend.

This is Richard Ayoade’s first feature-length film as a director and he is heavily influenced by older filmmakers like Francois Truffaut and new ones like Wes Anderson. The film is easily comparable to The 400 Blows and Rushmore in the way they interpret adolescence in an unconventional way. Submarine does lose some of its energy in the second half and becomes a little more melancholy, but it’s still different from anything released in the US this year.

Page One: Inside the New York Times

The world of print journalism has been in decline for years but could the biggest and most regarded newspaper in the country fall victim too? Page One: Inside the New York TImes follows a group of reporters for a year as they struggle with fellow journalists being let go due to budget cuts, new forms of media such as social networking becoming more and more popular and the usual daily issues from working at a newspaper.

What makes this film interesting like any documentary is the characters the camera follows. In particular, David Carr is probably the most fascinating. He’s a former drug addict who’s been working for the paper for years and a strong advocate for the Times‘ credibility and continued good work.

Different perspectives are covered from editors, bloggers and writers both seasoned and fresh. One reporter in particular struggles with the prospect of going to the Middle East to cover the war. A film about a group of men sitting at cubicles writing and talking on the phone might seem boring, but Page One is an interesting look inside the daily workings of a media empire.

Win Win

My favorite film of the year came out in May and was little seen. The film stars Paul Giamatti as Mike Flaherty, a small-town lawyer struggling to pay the bills. He’s also a volunteer wrestling coach at a local high school. Desperate and with a wife and kid to feed, Mike becomes the legal guardian of a client who is mentally unfit to control his own money. With this questionable arrangement, Mike is able to collect a check from the old man as his guardian and not have to worry so much about money.

But when the old man’s grandson shows up on his  doorstep, Mike’s seemingly quick money fix turns into  family drama. The boy has run away from his drug-and-  alcohol abusive mother and he wants to live with his  grandfather. Now Mike and his family must take in the  boy until his mother arrives.

Not knowing what to do with the kid, Mike takes him to a  wrestling practice where he discovers that the boy is  extremely talented. His struggling team has suddenly  become good and he realizes maybe having this kid  around isn’t so bad after all.

 Win Win could easily have fallen into a sentimental  underdog sports movie but it doesn’t. It’s a timely story  about a man struggling to provide for his family who sees  an opportunity to better his situation. When the situation  becomes complicated, he makes the best of it and learns  something along the way. Win WIn is a funny, character-  driven film with a lot of heart and likable characters.

2012 looks like it will be a great year for movies especially the blockbusters. But just in case they don’t live up to our expectations, we still have smaller surprises to fall back on.

Bad Year for Netflix

I think Netflix CEO Reed Hastings would like to forget 2011. He couldn’t have anticipated as much backlash as the company received when they decided to separate their DVD-by-mail and online streaming packages and raise prices for their subscription plans.

Then following this embarrassment, Netflix decided to create a new name for their DVDs called Qwikster thinking that would make customers think of their service plans as two different things since they’re named differently. This didn’t work either. Customers were still pissed off.

Now the company has to deal with an expiring license agreement with Starz and continue competing with fellow streaming services like Blockbuster and Vudu. Their stock dropped significantly, they lost a lot of customers and now they have to find a way to remain the leading streaming service. Good luck!

 

Local Cinema Watch

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by Ryan Beltram, Eugene Daily News

Hello local cinephiles. With Christmas coming on Sunday it’s a predictably light week for new movies. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing new opening this week. The Bijou has one new film debuting and it’s about the end of the world. Kind of depressing for the holidays but if that doesn’t interest you, they’re also holding a special two-night screening of It’s a Wonderful Life. Now that’s more like it.

David Minor has two films debuting on Thursday, one is about two brothers forced to fight one another in mixed-martial arts and another about a bored screenwriter who decides to take a late night walk in Paris.

At the Bijou this week:

Melancholia: Drama – 2011 – 136 Min – Rated R. Starts on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 5:30 and 8:25 pm.

Usually when you see a film about the destruction of earth, there’s shots of national monuments being blown up and people narrowly escaping collapsing streets. In Melancholia, director Lars Von Trier decides to balance the impending demise of earth with the emotional demise of the main character Justine (Kirsten Dunst).

On the night of her wedding, Justine is struggling with depression. Despite a lavish wedding paid for by her sister and brother-in-law, Justine is a damaged soul who only sees things as they actually are and is unaffected by human assimilation or persuasion.

Besides having to deal with her own demons, Justine like everyone else in the world is aware of Melancholia, a blue planet hurtling towards earth. Whether the planet is actually headed for earth or if it is just a giant metaphor for Justine’s personal issues is up for interpretation. Von Trier tells stories that are bleak and the women are often put through the ringer. But Melancholia looks to juxtapose bleakness and beauty and leave viewers with something they won’t forget.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Drama – 1946 – 130 Min – Not Rated. Special screening Dec. 24 and 25 at 2:20 pm.

When people think of holiday films, the one that probably comes to mind the most often is It’s a Wonderful Life. Written and directed by the great Frank Capra, the film tells the story of George Bailey, a businessman who looks out for the people of Bedford Falls and attempts to prevent the rich and powerful Mr. Potter from taking over the entire town.

But when George’s Uncle Billy loses all of the local business’s $8,000 while intending to deposit it in the bank, George realizes that he will be accused of stealing it and as result will not only lose his business, but see Potter take control of the town.

George contemplates suicide but the prayers from his loved ones result in an angel named Clarence coming down to rescue George and show him what life would be like without him.

The Bijou will be projecting the film from an extremely rare archival 35mm film print. In this day and age when movies are presented digitally and in some cases in 3D and IMAX, it’s exciting to see a film presented in a way it was originally intended.

Still playing at the Bijou:

Margin Call: Showing at 5 pm Wednesday and Thursday. Showing at 7:40 pm Dec. 23-25.

The Way: Showing at 7:30 pm Wednesday and Thursday. Showing at 5 pm Dec. 23-25.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale: Showing at 10:10 pm Dec. 21-25.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians: Showing at 10 pm Dec. 23-25.

Two new films open this week at David Minor:

Warrior: Drama – 2011 – 140 Min – Rated PG-13. Starts on Thursday, Dec. 22 at 7:20 pm.

Despite strong reviews, Warrior performed poorly at the box office went it was released in September. Now is your chance to see this modern-day Rocky story on the big screen.

Starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, two actors unknown to most American audiences, Warrior follows the two actors as brothers struggling with life. Tommy (Hardy) is the younger brother and son of an alcoholic former boxer (Nick Nolte). When Tommy returns home from serving in the military, he’s trained by his father to compete in a mixed martial arts tournament.

His older brother Brendan (Edgerton) is struggling to provide for his family as a teacher so he decides to resume fighting as well. As both brothers ascend through the ranks of MMA fighting, they will eventually have to meet in the ring and fight one another. But which brother needs to win more; the ex-Marine with a tragic past or a man forced back in the ring in a desperate bid to save his family from financial ruin.

Midnight in Paris: Comedy – 2011 – 94 Min – Rated PG-13. Debuts on Thursday, Dec. 22 at 5:30 pm.

Director Woody Allen’s most successful film financially and one of his best-reviewed films in years, Midnight in Paris has enjoyed a long run locally at the Bijou. But now you can see at David Minor.

Starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams, the film follows the couple as they travel to Paris for a vacation. Gil (WIlson) is a successful screenwriter struggling with his first novel. Seeking inspiration, he decides to walk the streets of Paris at night.

But what begins as a one-time stroll through the city turns into nightly walks as Gil begins to fall in love with the city and the characters from the past he encounters. His romantic and nostalgic view of the city inspires him, but this sudden jolt of excitement may also push him further from the woman he’s about to marry.

Still playing at David Minor:

Cowboys and Aliens: Showing at 5:15 pm on Wednesday. Showing at 7:20 pm Dec. 22 and 23.

Crazy, Stupid, Love: Showing at 5:15 pm on Wednesday. Showing at 9:45 pm Dec. 22 and 23.

Friends with Benefits: Final screening on Wednesday at 7:25 pm.

Rise of The Planet of the Apes: Showing at 7:25 pm on Wednesday. Showing at 9:45 pm on Dec. 22 and 23.

Our Idiot Brother: Showing at 9:20 pm on Wednesday. Showing at 5:30 pm on Dec. 22 and 23.

Super 8: Final screening on Wednesday at 9:20 pm.

David Minor will be closed on Saturday and Sunday for the holidays.

Local Cinema Watch

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by Ryan Beltram
Eugene Daily News

What’s up movie fans. This week in local cinema we’ve got three new films opening. Last week the Bijou debuted a holiday film about an evil santa kidnapping children. This week they show another unconventional Christmas movie involving Santa and martians. Besides that, they also have a well-reviewed film about the events leading up to the financial crisis starting. One new film begins at David Minor and it’s the best summer blockbuster from this year.

At the Bijou this week:

Margin Call: Drama – 2011 – 107 Min – Rated R. Starts on Friday, Dec. 16 at 5:30 and 8 pm; additional showing at 3 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Featuring an excellent cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany and Jeremy Irons, Margin Call follows a group of people working at an investment firm in the summer of 2008. After being laid off by the firm, Eric (Stanley Tucci), a senior risks analyst, slips a USB drive to Peter (Zachary Quinto), an entry-level analyst too young and cheap to fire.

While in an empty office, Peter views the information on the drive and realizes the firm and the market are on the brink of disaster. Peter’s discovery starts a chain reaction of higher-ups calling an all-night meeting to discuss whether they should inform others of the impending financial meltdown or cut their losses and get out when they can.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians: Comedy – 1964 – 81 Min – Not Rated. Special screenings at 12:30 am on Saturday and Sunday.

If you looked up B-movie in the dictionary, it would probably list this film among others. Upset that their children have become obsessed with television and its romantic portrayal of Santa Claus, Martians head for Earth to kidnap the jolly fat man. In the process of grabbing Santa, the Martians also take two children and return to Mars.

But the power and spirit of Christmas overcome the Martians as they begin to embrace happiness and holiday cheer. How Ed Wood didn’t get his hands on this movie is amazing.

Still Playing at the Bijou:

The Way: Showing at 5 and 7:45 pm, Wednesday and Thursday. Playing at 4:50 and 7:30 pm, Friday-Sunday with an additional screening at 2:15 pm on the weekend.

Into the Abyss: Final two showings at 4:45 and 7:05 pm, Wednesday and Thursday.

Rare Exports : A Christmas Tale: Showing at 9:25 pm, Wednesday and Thursday. Playing at 10:10 pm Friday-Sunday.

Midnight in Paris: Playing at 12 pm Saturday and Sunday.

The Room: Showing at 10:30 pm Friday and Saturday.

One new film opens this week at David Minor:

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Action – 2011 – 105 Min – Rated PG-13. Opens on Friday, Dec. 16 at 7:25 pm.

If you had told me at the beginning of the year that the best summer movie would not only be the last one of the summer, but also a remake/prequel of a tired franchise, I would have been shocked. But to my and many people’s surprise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes turned out to be an emotional, entertaining film.

You would think the star of the movie would be James  Franco. But really the lead of the film is Andy Serkis  playing Caesar, a genetically-enhanced chimpanzee  experimented on to find a cure for Alzheimer’s  disease. Following an argument with his boss on the  legitimacy of his work with the chimp, Will (James  Franco) takes the animal home with him and raises it  as if it were his own child. The film follows Caesar’s  childhood and progression into an extremely intelligent  creature.

But when an incident with a neighbor forces Caesar to  live with his own kind, he begins to realize the true  nature of man and the role apes play in this world.  How the filmmakers were able to cram this much  story in under two hours is amazing. The best  summer blockbusters are the ones that can balance  the spectacle and story equally. Rise of the Planet of  the Apes does that and also ingeniously sets up a  sequel that could feel like its own story and not a  retread of the first film.

Still playing at David Minor:

Friends with Benefits: Showing at 4:50 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 14. Showing at 7:25 pm Dec. 15-16 and Dec. 18-21. (Saturday showing is cancelled).

Super 8: Showing at 4:50 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 14. Showing at 9:20 pm Dec. 15-21.

Our Idiot Brother: Showing at 6:50 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 14. Showing at 9:20 pm Dec. 15-21.

The Hangover Part II: Final two screenings at 6:50 and 10:40 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 14.

Cowboys & Aliens: Showing at 8:40 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 14. Showing at 5:15 pm Dec. 15 and Dec. 17-21. (Friday showing is Cancelled).

Crazy, Stupid, Love: Showing at 8:40 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 14. Showing at 5:15 pm Dec. 15-21.

30 Minutes or Less: Final showing at 10:40 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 14.

Local Cinema Watch

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–Ryan Beltram, EDN

Six new films open at your local cinemas this week:three at the Bijou and three at David Minor. As usual, the Bijou’s new selection is uncommercial with two documentaries and a very unusual Christmas movie debuting. David Minor is more mainstream with two summer blockbusters and a romantic comedy opening.

At the Bijou this week:

Into the Abyss: Documentary – 2011 – 107 Min – Rated PG-13. Starts on Friday, Dec. 9 at 9 pm; additional showing at 4:45 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

In director Werner Herzog’s latest documentary, Into the Abyss chronicles two inmates: one on death row, and the other serving a life sentence for murdering three people in a carjacking. The film follows the perspectives of the victims’ families, the policemen involved with the case and even the loved ones of the accused.

Herzog has always been fascinated by what drives the human soul good or bad. At the beginning, Herzog says that he is against capital punishment and yet the film does not seem to judge its subjects, but rather sympathize with them and everyone involved in the tragedy. It’s an examination of why people, and the state, kill.

Paul Goodman Changed My Life: Documentary – 2011 – 89 Min – Not Rated. The film runs Dec. 9-11. The Friday screening will be at 6:15 pm, followed by a moderated discussion via Skype with director Jonathan Lee. The film will show at 7 pm on Saturday, and at 12:25 and 7 pm on Sunday.

Paul Goodman was a unique figure in the ’60s and people didn’t know what to make of him. His 1960 best-seller, Growing Up Absurd, became a cornerstone of countercultural thinking. Goodman was a poet, essayist, playwright and psychotherapist, and was candid about his bisexuality while maintaining a marriage and raising two children.

This biographical documentary mixes old and new footage of those who knew Goodman and those who had a strong opinion of the man. The documentary also presents readings of Goodman’s work by the likes of Garrison Keillor and Edmund White, as well as archival footage of Goodman himself.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale: Action/Fantasy – 2010 – 84 Min – Rated R. Starts Friday, Dec. 9 at 10:20 pm.

What if Santa Claus was not only real, but evil? This daringly unusual film takes place on Christmas Eve in Northern Finland where an archeologist has unearthed Santa’s apparent evil underground lair. You would think the children in the small town would be excited about the real Santa being so close. But instead of being happy, the local children are disappearing.

A young boy and his father, who just happens to be a reindeer hunter, attempt to capture Santa and sell him to the corporation sponsoring the archeological dig. But finding Santa and keeping him captive isn’t easy when his elves will do anything to free their notorious leader. This sounds very bizarre, but I’m intrigued.

Still Playing at the Bijou:

Take Shelter: Final two screenings on Wednesday and Thursday at 9:15 pm.

Midnight in Paris: Showing at 4:45 pm, Wednesday and Thursday. Resumes on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm.

The Way: Showing at 5 and 7:45 pm, Wednesday-Friday. Additional showing at 2:15 Saturday and Sunday.

The Hedgehog: Final two screenings on Wednesday and Thursday at 7 pm.

Three films open this week at David Minor:

The Hangover Part II: Comedy – 2011 – 102 Min – Rated R. Starts on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 6:50 and 10:40 pm.

The Wolfpack is back to their wild ways as Phil, Stu and Alan head to Thailand for Stu’s wedding. What looks like a more laid back bachelor party compared to the last time, quickly turns into familiar circumstances as the trio wake up in a shady Bangkok apartment. How they got there is what sets the movie in motion.

Despite being the highest grossing comedy of the year, The Hangover Part II was undoubtedly the most disappointing movie of the year. This film has become the definition of what not to do with a sequel. Instead of finding new creative ways for laughs, the film recycles the same scenarios and jokes from the first film: changing the setting from Las Vegas to Bangkok, a monkey instead of a baby, Stu’s random musical number with a guitar instead of a piano, losing Stu’s future brother-in-law instead of their friend Doug. It’s like they were afraid to do anything original because the first film was so big.

The movie even uses lines from the first film — “What is going on?” — and characters reference the events of the first film with lines like, “I can’t believe this is happening to us again.” I wish I had been watching the first film — oh wait — I was.

Friends with Benefits: Comedy – 2011 – 109 Min – Rated R. Debuts on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 4:50 pm.

The second romantic comedy this year about friends hooking up, stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis as work friends who decide they could both use some added benefits. They find each other attractive, so why not have sex? But they’re determined not to turn that benefit into complications that would lead to something more.

Judging from the trailers, this looks like a decent rom-com. Timberlake and Kunis look like they have good chemistry and there’s a good supporting cast, including Woody Harrelson and Jenna Elfman.

Cowboys & Aliens: Action/Sci-Fi – 2011 – 118 Min – Rated PG-13. Starts on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 8:40 pm.

Another disappointing summer movie, Cowboys & Aliens, stars Daniel Craig as a man who wakes up in the middle of the desert with a bizarre-looking contraption attached to his wrist. Besides that, he doesn’t know who he is or how he got there. He quickly learns that he has a certain set of skills that makes him very dangerous, and he’s wanted not only by the local sheriff, but also by a local cattle rancher played by Harrison Ford.

But their feud becomes a secondary issue when weird flying objects come down from the sky and take some of the locals. Now they have to work together to save their people before there’s no town left to save.

Cowboys & Aliens is a silly title, and it’s as if the makers of the film wanted to run away from any notion of silliness and make a serious western with an element of sci-fi thrown in. But by doing that, they’ve taken all the fun out of the film. Daniel Craig barely speaks (Channeling Clint Eastwood) and Harrison Ford is playing yet another grumpy guy. When there are jokes, they often fall flat and the action sequences are unmemorable.

It’s an interesting idea blending two very different genres. But if you’re going to do that, one can’t outweigh the other. Instead of having a good time, I was bored and wishing I was watching a better western or sci-fi film.

Still Playing at David Minor:

30 Minutes or Less: Showing at 9:45 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 7. Showing at 10:40 pm Dec. 8-14.

Crazy, Stupid, Love: Showing at 5:30 pm, Wednesday. Showing at 8:40 pm Dec. 8-14.

Super 8: Showing at 7:40 pm, Wednesday. Showing at 4:50 pm Dec. 8-14.

Our Idiot Brother: Showing at 9:45 pm, Wednesday. Showing at 6:50 pm Dec. 8-14.

Water For Elephants: Final showing at 7:40 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 7.

Local Cinema Watch

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

It’s a light week in local cinema. One new drama about family (both on and offscreen) debuts at the Bijou this week, and two new films open at David Minor: a stoner comedy involving pizza, explosives and drug dealers, and another film about a well-intentioned idiot.

At the Bijou this week

The Way: Drama/Adventure – 2010 – 121 Min. – Rated PG-13. Starts Friday, Dec. 2 at 5 and 7:45 pm.

The Way

Emilio Estevez directs this spiritual drama about a father, (played by Estevez’s real father Martin Sheen) Tom, who arrives in St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his son (Estevez) who was killed in a storm in the Pyrenees mountains while walking the Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James.

Rather than returning home to California to mourn his loss, Tom decides to embark on his son’s journey to honor him. But instead of enjoying a solitary adventure, Tom befriends other pilgrims from around the world, each of them with their own set of issues and looking for greater meaning in their lives.

Still Playing at the Bijou

Take Shelter: Showing at 7:45 pm, Wednesday and Thursday. Showing at 10:15 pm, Friday-Sunday.

Midnight in Paris: Showing at 5:30 pm, Wednesday and Thursday. Showing at 4:45 pm, Friday-Sunday.

The Hedgehog: Showing at 4:45 and 7 pm, Wednesday and Thursday. Showing at 7 pm, Friday-Sunday. Additional screening at 2:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday.

The Skin I Live In: Showing at 9:15 pm, Wednesday and Thursday. Showing at 9:30 pm, Friday-Sunday.

At David Minor this week, two new films debut.

30 Minutes or Less: Comedy – 2011 – 83 Min. – Rated R. Debuts on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 9:45 pm.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Nick, a small town pizza delivery guy bored with life. But one day he gets an unwanted level of excitement when two wannabe criminals strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank for them. With only his best friend to turn to, Nick must deal with a ticking clock, police, assassins and their own rocky relationship.

30 Minutes or Less is director Ruben Fleischer’s follow up to Zombieland. That film was fun and funny and despite the usual zombie plot, felt creative and original. 30 Minutes or Less lacks many of the same qualities. There are hilarious moments, usually involving Michael Pena as a hired hitman doing his best Scarface impression, but otherwise the film is instantly forgettable. Despite the comedic talents of Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari and Nick Swardson, the film tried too hard to be racy and violent.

Our Idiot Brother: Comedy – 2011 – 90 Min. – Rated R. Starts at 9:45 pm, Thursday, Dec. 1-7.

Our Idiot Brother

Ned (Paul Rudd) is the most gullible guy you’ll ever meet.  Despite constantly being manipulated and taken  advantage of, Ned remains an upbeat dude, relying on the  honesty of others to live a carefree life.

But when his girlfriend dumps him and kicks him off the  farm where he makes a living, Ned’s three sisters are  forced to come to his rescue as each take turns housing  Ned until he gets back on his feet. But his unsettling  honesty leads to conflict in each household. As each of  the three sisters’ lives begin to unravel, they come to the  realization that maybe, in believing and trusting the  people around him, Ned isn’t such an idiot after all.

Still Playing at David Minor:

Beginners: Showing at 7:35 pm, Wednesday, Nov. 30.  Showing at 5:30 pm, Dec. 1-7.

Horrible Bosses: Final showing, Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 9:40 pm.

Crazy, Stupid, Love: Showing at 7:35 pm, Wednesday, Nov. 30, and at 5:30 pm, Dec. 1-7.

Water For Elephants: Showing at 5:25 pm, Wednesday, Nov. 30, and at 7:40 pm, Dec. 1-7.

Super 8: Showing at 5:25 and 9:40 pm, Wednesday, Nov. 30, and at 7:40 pm Dec. 1-3. The film will not screen on Sunday but will resume on Monday, Dec. 5 at 7:40 pm.

Local Cinema Watch

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Ryan Beltram, EDN

It’s Thanksgiving week so not a whole lot of new stuff debuting at your local cinemas. The Bijou has a French drama opening, while David Minor debuts a summer blockbuster on Friday.

At the Bijou this week.

The Hedgehog: Drama – 2009 – 100 Min. – Not Rated. Starts Friday, Nov. 25 at 2:15, 2:45 and 7 pm through Sunday.

The Hedgehog

Paloma is a serious but deeply bored 11-year-old who has decided to kill herself on her 12th birthday. She views everyone and everything around her with a pessimistic and hypocritical view and decides her future won’t get any better. Using her father’s old camcorder to chronicle her view on the world, Paloma begins to learn about the rest of life from the grumpy building concierge, Renee Michel, and discovers that maybe her trivial complaints about life are not as bad as she thought.

Still Playing at the Bijou:

Take Shelter: Showing at 7:30 pm Wednesday and Thursday. Shows at 2:45 and 7:45 pm Friday-Sunday.

Midnight in Paris: Showing at 5 pm Wednesday and Thursday. Friday – Sunday showing at 5:30 pm.

The Skin I Live In: Showing at 5:25 and 8 pm Wednesday and Thursday. Showing at 9:15 pm Friday – Sunday.

At David Minor this week, one new film debuts.

Super 8: Sci-Fi/Thriller – 2011 – 112 Min. – Rated PG-13. Debuts on Friday, Nov. 25 at 5:25 and 9:40 pm.

In Super 8, during the summer of 1979, a group of friends set out to make a zombie movie using a Super 8 camera. While filming at a train station, they witness the cause and aftermath of a train derailment. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and strange events begin to happen due to something that escaped from the train. The local deputy tries to uncover the truth while dealing with the government’s attempt to hide what’s really going on.

Super 8

Super 8 is a nostalgic trip back to early Steven Spielberg films including Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The director of E.T., J.J. Abrams, attempts to make an old-fashioned summer blockbuster focusing on characters over spectacle. While the film was better than most blockbusters this summer, it still felt disappointing. Abrams seemed to focus more on making the film remind us of an old Spielberg classic than making his own original movie.

The film features good performances by the child actors and a couple of spectacular action sequences. But the father-son relationship at the heart of the story could have been developed more, and the alien creature didn’t seem interesting or original.

Still Playing at David Minor:

Beginners: Showing at 5:30 pm Wednesday, and at 7:35 pm Friday, Nov. 25-30.

Horrible Bosses: Showing at 5:30 pm Wednesday, and at 9:40 pm Friday, Nov. 25-30.

Crazy, Stupid, Love: Showing at 9:30 pm Wednesday, and at 7:35 pm Friday, Nov. 25-30.

Water For Elephants: Showing at 7:25 pm Wednesday, and at 5:25 pm Friday, Nov. 25-30.

Edward Scissorhands: Final showing is on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 7:25 pm.

David Minor Theater will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving.

Local Cinema Watch

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If you like unconventional love stories than the two films playing at the Bijou through Thursday should satisfy you.  If you want to show off to your friends how much of a film buff you are, than wait until Friday as two of the most acclaimed films of the year open.

Bellflower:Thriller/Drama/Romance – 2011 – 106 Min – Rated R. Playing at 6:30 p.m. through Thursday.

Are you a bit of a pyromaniac? Do you  like to watch things burn and blow up?  If you do than you might like Bellflower, a film about two friends  who  spend most of their free time  building  flame-throwers and weapons  of mass  destruction in hopes that a  global  apocalypse occurs and gives  them a  reason to form their imaginary gang “Mother Medusa.” While they wait for the supposed end of the world, one of them meets a young woman at a bar and his focus starts to change from rage and focused preparedness to love. Flame-throwers and romance, now who doesn’t want to see that?

Weekend: Drama/Romance – 2011 – 97 Min – Not Rated. Playing at 5:45 pm and 8:00 pm through Thursday.

Speaking of unconventional love stories, here’s something you don’t see often in Hollywood, a film about a romance between two young men. After a night of drinking with his straight friends, Russell heads out to a gay club. Just when it looks like he’ll go home alone again, he meets Glen. Russell expects the usual one-night stand, but that one night turns into a whole weekend spent in bars and beds getting drunk, taking drugs, telling stories and having sex. One night of fun turns into something more and with Glen leaving the country on Monday for two years, Russell struggles with the question, is two days spent with someone enough time to know you want to be with them for the long run?

Movies opening on Friday

Take Shelter: Drama – 2011 – 120 Min – Rated R. Starts on Nov. 11 at 5:00 pm, 7:45 pm and 9:20 pm. An additional screening is at 2:15 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Michael Shannon plays Curtis LaForche, a man who lives in a small Ohio town with his wife Samantha and their six-year-old daughter Hannah, who is deaf. Curtis provides most of the household income as a crew chief for a sand-mining company while Samantha is a stay-at-home mom. Supporting the family including Hannah’s healthcare and special needs education, is a struggle for Curtis but they’re a happy family.

But Curtis’ happiness starts to turn into dread as he begins having nightmares about an apocalyptic storm. Convinced of an impending natural disaster, Curtis begins building a bomb shelter for his family despite money being tight. Curtis becomes more and more disturbed provoking intolerance among his friends and neighbors. But is this impending doom real or is it all in his head? Michael Shannon is a fascinating actor to watch because there’s always something a little off with him. He’s a ticking time-bomb ready to explode at any moment and he’s a perfect choice to play a man with deep psychological problems.

The Interrupters: Documentary – 2011 – 125 Min – Not Rated. Starts on Nov. 11 at 7:00 p.m. and showing at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Saturday and Sunday.

If you’ve seen director Steve James previous work: Hoop Dreams or the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, you know that he likes to tell stories about people who come from nothing and try to better their lives. In The Interrupters, James tells the stories of three violence interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they themselves once embraced.

Shot over the course of a year, the film captures a period in Chicago when the city became a national representation of violence in major cities. The film’s main subjects work for an organization called CeaseFire, which believes that the spread of violence mimics the spread of infectious diseases and that the treatment should be dealt similarly: go after the most infected and stop the infection at its source. Director Steve James tells stories that are meant to inform and expose issues we might not know about but should, and his latest film is no different.

The Last Circus: Cult/Exploitation/Comedy – 2010 – 107 Min – Rated R. Starts at 9:45 pm on Nov. 11-17.

The trailer for The Last Circus can be described in one word: insane. If you have a fear of clowns you might want to avoid this. The film chronicles two generations of clowns: a father at the height of the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930’s and a son at the tail end of it in the early 1970’s. The father is remembered as a great circus clown who also famously was recruited by a militia to fight Nation soldiers.

Fast forward to 1973 and his son Javier, also a clown, is trying to follow in his dad’s footsteps. The problem is he’s seen too much tragedy in his life and as a result, he’s a sad clown instead of a funny clown. He finds work in a circus where he befriends an odd cast of characters and soon falls in love with one of them who is in an abusive relationship with the happy clown. Now the sad clown and the happy clown must battle to win the girl.

Still playing at the Bijou is the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris. This Bijou favorite stars Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams as a couple who travel to Paris to wonder at the cities beauty and take a nostalgic trip down memory lane. The film is playing at 6:30 pm through Thursday and then at 4:45 pm on Nov. 11-17.

Over at The David Minor Theater, two films opened recently and they’re both about the struggles of love. One follows a group of people in present-day Los Angeles and the other is set during the Depression.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.:Comedy/Drama/Romance – 2011 – 118 Min – Rated PG-13. Showing at 9:45 pm on Wed, Nov. 9 and at 5:20 pm and 7:30 pm on Thurs, Nov. 10-17.

A talented cast highlight this romantic comedy about Cal  (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) a seemingly  happy couple living the American dream until Emily asks  for a divorce. Suddenly thrust into the single world again,  Cal seeks help and he finds mentorship from Jacob (Ryan  Gosling) a young, good-looking playboy whose mission is  now to help Cal get over his wife. But when Jacob falls for  Hannah (Emma Stone) the usually suave and steady  young bachelor needs Cal as much as Cal needs him. The  film also features Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei as love  interests for Cal and Emily.

Water for Elephants: Drama/Romance – 2011 – 120 Min – Rated PG-13. Showing at 7:40 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 9 and at 5:20 pm on Thursday, Nov. 10-16.

Based on the popular book, Water for Elephants follows Jacob Jankoski (Robert Pattinson) a young veterinary student whose parents are killed. Now penniless and homeless, Jacob decides to join a traveling circus as their vet. But working for the unstable boss August, Jacob tries to cautiously maintain a life aboard the train of animals. But soon Jacob falls in love with August’s wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) and they must decide if they’re willing to risk staying together and escaping August’s abusiveness while also leaving behind the circus.

Still playing at David Minor:

Bridesmaids: Showing at 5:15 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 9 and at 7:30 pm on Thursday, Nov. 10-16. (Last Week)

Horrible Bosses: Showing at 7:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9 and at 9:40 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10-Nov. 16.

Local Cinema Watch

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Ryan Beltram, EDN

A new slate of films open this Friday at the Bijou: a well-reviewed documentary, a film featuring the biggest cast ever,and the return of a popular film from a familiar director. In addition to a new set of films debuting, the Bijou will also be hosting a one-night event on Friday showcasing an old horror classic with a new interpretation on the sound of the film by a local band.

Senna: Documentary; 2010 – 106 Min. – Rated PG-13.

Debuting at 7:10 pm on Friday, Oct. 28; Showing at 2:15, 4:45 and 7:10 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Showing at 5:30 and 8:00 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

Senna tells the story of Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 World Championship three times before his death at age 34.

Chronicling the decade from his arrival in Formula One in the mid ’80s, the documentary follows Senna’s fierce rivalry with fellow racer and French World Champion Alain Prost, as well as Senna’s struggles with politics within the sport of racing. Stripped of narration and talking heads that usually frequent a documentary, Senna is a portrait of a tragic sports figure who was patriotic, a perfectionist and a humble, spiritual man.

Life in a Day: Documentary – 2011 – 95 Min – Rated PG-13

Debuting at 5:45 pm on Friday, Oct. 28; Showing at 1:30 and 5:45 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Showing at 5:15 pm Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

50 years from now, someone might ask the question, “What was it like to live in 2010?” Life in a Day presents more specifically, what it was like to live on July 24, 2010.

A year ago, filmmaker Kevin Macdonald asked the YouTube community to film itself on a specific day and submit the video to the Life in a Day page.

Macdonald and a number of fellow filmmakers would then take the footage and edit it down to a 90-minute feature film that would premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011. From Macdonald’s challenge, 80,000 videos were submitted with 4,500 hours of footage from 192 countries.There are no typical YouTube antics – just a simple mosaic of how people decided to spend one July day.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil: Comedy/Horror – 89 Min – Rated R

Showing at 9:30 pm on Friday, Oct. 28-Nov. 3.

Just in time for Halloween is a horror comedy about two best friends who have been mistaken for killers.

Tucker and Dale are headed to their run-down vacation cabin to drink, fish and have a good time. Unfortunately, a group of preppy college kids who’ve seen Deliverance and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre one too many times, run into the innocent hillbilly duo and assume they’re redneck killers. In an attempt to convince the kids that they mean them no harm, Tucker and Dale unwittingly fall into a series of gruesome and hilarious situations that lead to the college kids dying one by one.

Also Playing-

Back by popular demand is Woody Allen’s well-reviewed and most financially successful film of his career, Midnight in Paris. The movie stars Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams and involves time travel, conversations with historical figures and – you guessed it – Paris.

Midnight in Paris shows on Friday, Oct. 28 at 5:00 pm Weekend showings are at 3:30 and 7:45 pm, and the film will be shown at 7:15 pm from Monday, Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

This Friday will also be Halloween Night at the Bijou, and it will host two special events in anticipation of the spooky holiday.

At 8 pm, Mood Area 52 returns to the Bijou to perform its inspired original soundtrack to F.W. Murnau’s classic horror film Nosferatu. Mood Area 52 incorporates many different genres into its music, from electronica to folk. Its take on the horror classic should be a unique experience. Tickets for the show are $10.

Also on Friday, Forbidden Fruit presents The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Eugene’s only live shadow cast, Forbidden Fruit showcases the cult classic like you’ve never seen it before.  Expect language, nudity, screaming and the throwing of props. This is an age 17+ event; anyone under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The show begins at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and costs $10.

The David Minor Theater is throwing its own costume party on Friday, but it isn’t just because of Halloween; it’s also the theater’s third anniversary. A superhero costume will get you into the party and Captain America screening for free; otherwise it will cost you $2. The screenings are at 7:15 and 9:30 pm.  Showings of Tree of Life, Bridesmaids, Horrible Bosses and Attack The Block will be canceled for the party. However, Bad Teacher will still be playing at 5:15 pm.

Still playing at David Minor:

Bridesmaids: Thursday, Oct. 27, and Oct. 29- Nov. 2. Showtime: 7:40 pm

Tree of Life: Thursday, Oct. 27, and Oct. 29-Nov. 2. Showtime: 5:15 pm

Horrible Bosses: Thursday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, Oct. 29-Nov. 2.

Bad Teacher: Showing at 5:15 on Thursday, Oct. 27-Nov. 2.; Showtime: at 9:50 pm

Captain America: Debuting Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7:40 pm; Friday, 7:15 and 9:30 pm.; Saturday, Oct. 29-Nov. 2, 7:40 pm

Attack The Block

Attack The Block: Comedy – 2011 – 87 Min – Rated R

Debuting on Thursday at 9:50 pm and screening again on Saturday, Oct. 29-Nov. 2.

Speaking of Attack The Block, the popular British sci-fi comedy will be debuting on Thursday and then screening again on Saturday. Starring mostly a collection of young, unknown actors, Block follows a South London teen street gang who is forced to fight against an invasion of savage alien monsters.

Using their housing project as a battleground, the gang uses their tough street smarts to foil the visitors from outer space and essentially become a team of kick-ass heroes.