movie

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?

Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy Dies at 83

Leonard Nimoy(CNN) — Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock on Star Trek, died at his Los Angeles home Friday. That’s according to his son Adam Nimoy.

The 83-year-old was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease he attributed to his years of smoking.

Nimoy was hospitalized earlier this week.

Nimoy’s career in show business spanned more than six decades and included stints as a stage actor, television guest star, series regular, and movie veteran. He also directed a handful of films, including the box office hit Three Men and a Baby in 1987.

The New York Times reports that Nimoy is survived by his two children, a stepson, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Tickets Selling Out for “The Interview”

Still1224_00001EUGENE, Ore. — Movie fans are snapping up tickets to see “The Interview” on opening night at the Bijou Arts Cinema in Eugene.

Thursday’s 10:30 p.m. screening is already sold out, so the theater added another showing at 8:00 p.m.

The Bijou is one of many theaters throughout the country deciding to show the movie after Sony pulled it. The U.S. government says North Korea hacked Sony because the movie depicts the killing of North Korea’s president.

President Obama said Sony made a mistake canceling it, and now after plenty of public outcry local moviegoers are excited to see it.

“I’m excited it’s playing. I have to try and talk my friends into coming back tomorrow,” said Lisa Sragobicz.

“I think a lot of people think oh they only picked it up because it’s controversy, but not really. Like we got a chance to show it and it’s going to be good for our theater and it gets to play in Eugene now, so I think that’s awesome,” said Michelle Nordella, Bijou Arts Cinema co-owner.

Tickets to the Bijou shows are available online and at the box office. The theater will show the movie for one week.

Film Junkie

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This week I am debuting a movie column that will cover all aspects of the film industry. Whether it’s reviews, news or simply an observation, I will cover it for your reading pleasure. In this first edition, I will be reviewing a little seen independent film that has suddenly been put back in the spotlight thanks to a highly-publicized Internet hoax.

Manti Te'o
Te’o may have been involved in an elaborate Internet hoax.

The term “Catfishing” online has been thrust into the lexicon this week amidst news of a Notre Dame football scandal where it was discovered that star linebacker Manti Te’o’s deceased girlfriend Lennay Kekua never existed. Te’o said in a statement that he was the victim of “a sick joke” – that he was duped by online predators into believing Kekua was real. It’s only been a couple of days since this story broke, but we may soon learn the truth as Te’o is scheduled to give his first interview Friday. It’s a story that has become so big and so juicy that Lance Armstrong should be personally thanking each and every person involved.

But where does this term “Catfishing” come from? The answer is a 2010 documentary, and now an MTV show, about one man’s strange journey into the heart of online chat-room darkness.

The tag-line for the film Catfish is “Don’t let anyone tell you what it is.” Another piece of advice should have been, don’t watch the trailer because you’ll be thinking about it as you watch the movie.

The notion that a trailer misrepresents or misinterprets what a movie is really about isn’t surprising. The job of a movie trailer is to sell the movie so people go see it. But in the case of Catfish, the trailer marketed it as a mysterious -is-it-real-or-fake documentary thriller about a young New Yorker searching for his Facebook crush. The first half of the movie kind of sets it up as that. Sort of a Blair Witch Project for the Internet generation. But as the movie nears its conclusion, it doesn’t scare you. It only cautions you about the world we live in. Where not everyone is who they say they are online.

Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman decide to make a documentary about Ariel’s brother Nev. Nev is a 24-year-old photographer who specializes in shooting dancers. One day Nev receives a package of a painting someone has done of one of his published photographs. It’s from an 8-year-old girl named Abby. The painting is remarkable and Nev begins to correspond with Abby and her mother Angela. The fact that Henry and Ariel decided to make a documentary about Nev and right when they start to make the film, Nev receives the painting from Abby seems like too big of a coincidence and basically sets up the question of whether or not this actually happened to them.

Nev receives many more paintings of his photographs and over the course of 9 months, he forms a friendship with Abby’s family through Facebook. At some point he becomes particularly interested in Abby’s 19-year-old sister Megan. They become very close through the Internet and over the phone. Megan writes music for Nev, he flirts with her through text messages and eventually he wonders if this is the girl of his dreams. An opportunity opens up for him to be close enough to see her in person.

Catfish
The many paintings Nev received from Abby.

The three videographers fly to Vail, Colorado to shoot a dance event. On their way back East, they decide to take a detour to meet Megan and the family in Ishpeming, Michigan. It’s time to put a face with the voice over the phone and all of the pictures online. To say everything goes the way they thought it would is an understatement so I won’t reveal anything further.

The film can be frustrating at times because you’re fooled into expecting one movie, and getting another. When the three men start to realize that something isn’t quite right with Angela’s family, the movie becomes an interesting procedural where they use technology in an attempt to uncover the truth. But by the end you may feel unsatisfied and slightly disappointed with what they discover. The final act is dramatically affective and depending on what type of person you are, you’ll either find it sad or slightly disturbing.

Ultimately, the film is an engaging and fascinating commentary on identity and the life we present online and the life we actually live. The film is never boring and the characters, particularly Nev, are likable. The film was marketed as a mysterious thriller and even the title, Catfish, is mysterious. By the end you’ll know the meaning behind the title and while it will come across as thoughtful and deep, it may also feel a little contrived and artificial. But that’s really the whole movie in a nutshell and the question you’re asking yourself as you watch it. Is it completely original and real or is it a hoax acting as a metaphor about how we want other people to see us versus who we actually are?

In the wake of the Te’o story, curiosity in Catfish might go up exponentially. While I may not have loved the film, I’m still thinking about it and that’s always a good enough reason to recommend people see it.

Catfish is available on Netflix disc, Blockbuster and Redbox.

Relive an old classic at Crescent Village’s “Movies Under the Stars” series

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Why is Casablanca considered one of the greatest love stories in American cinema? The leading man doesn’t end up with the girl. He hardly spends any time with her in fact and when he does it isn’t exactly rosy. But at its core, Casablanca really isn’t about lovers, it’s about heroes. This year marks the 70th Anniversary of its release and you can see it on the big screen for free this Friday.

One of the classics.

Released in 1942, during the height of World War II, Casablanca captured the fervor of national pride in America. Throughout the film, America is thought of as the place to escape to. Casablanca is a place that remains unoccupied by the Germans, but their grip overseas is tightening by the day, so tourists who have taken refuge in the city are eager to leave while they still can. But one man seams content.

Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is an exiled American and former freedom fighter. Owner of the most popular nightspot in town, Rick runs the place without any affiliation but to himself. He’s perfectly fine with his neutrality in a world where men are fighting other men. “I stick my neck out for nobody,” he says comfortably to a Nazi sitting in his club.

He knows however, that one day his comfortable life style will be in jeopardy when the Germans arrive, but he does have enough influence to pay off the local police captain so perhaps he can hide away forever. Then “of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

It is Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), the woman Rick loved years ago in Paris. Under the cloud of the German occupation, he arranged their escape, but she abandoned him, in his mind, at the train station on the night they were to leave. Now she is with Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a hero of the French Resistance.

Scorned by their unexpected separation in Paris and by the emergence of another man, Rick has no intention of seeing her or helping them escape Casablanca. But when Rick learns the truth about why she left him at the train station, they plan to run off together using a pair of transit letters that Rick has acquired. Well, that was their original plan anyways.

I miss black-and-white movies.

Like many of his roles, Bogart plays Sam as a smart, tough-minded cynic who ultimately shows his noble side. In one scene, after it’s revealed that Ilsa was married when she met Rick in Paris and couldn’t risk being on the run with him from the Germans, he still helps a young couple in a similar situation. Despite the risk of exposing his casino as dirty, he still sees what future the couple can have, and what he couldn’t have with Ilsa.

In contrast, Bergman’s performance is just the opposite. Referred to as a kid by Rick multiple times, Ilsa is the young idealist who sees a future for herself and the man she loves. Bergman’s face illicites confusing emotions but who could blame her since neither she nor anyone else on the film knew for sure until the final day who she would end up with. Her lack of knowledge helped her performance become more emotionally convincing.

The film does lack a stylistic quality. Perhaps if it were directed by Orson Welles at the time, he would have infused a little more creativity in the shot selection, but Casablanca was based on a play and you can see why a more creative direction wasn’t necessary when the acting and writing were so perfect.

“We’ll always have Paris.”

Ultimately, Casablanca is about sacrifice. Sacrificing love and destiny to fight for a greater cause. Moviegoers today might see the film as too sentimental and dated, but it remains a timeless story full of cynicism, regret and redemption.

The film won three Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, check it out on a big screen in glorious black-and-white at Crescent Village this week.

Casablanca is the third movie in Crescent Village’s summer series: “Movies Under the Star.”  It will be shown on Friday, August 10 at 8:20 pm.  Admission is free and you are asked to bring your own chairs and blankets.

Local Theater Watch

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

Fans of local cinema and theater rejoice because there’s plenty of options to entertain you. In local cinema, four new films debut and they range from sex addiction and anime to dirty politics.

Local Cinema

Bijou

An Ecology of Mind: 2010 – Documentary – 60 Min – Not Rated. Opens on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 pm w/ Director Q&A in-person.

An Ecology of Mind is an autobiographical documentary film about Gregory Bateson who was an anthropologist, biologist and psychotherapist. Written and directed by Bateson’s daughter Nora Bateson, the film tackles Bateson’s theory that, ‘The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way people think.’

Told through the relationship between father and daughter, the documentary explores ways to put the world back together again through the idea of ‘systems thinking and looking at what holds systems (the relationships we have with other people for example) together.

Director Nora Bateson will appear in person to present and discuss her film.

Shame: 2011 – Drama – 101 Min – Rated NC-17. Opens on Friday, Nov. 20 at 4:50, 7:10 and 9:40 pm. Due to the rating, ID may be required.

One of the most talked about films of last year, Shame follows Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a 30-something man living in New York. Despite being single, Brandon enjoys the company of many women to feed his addiction to sex. But when his younger sister (Carey Mulligan) moves into his apartment, Brandon’s issues and desires begin to spiral out of control.

Directed by Steve McQueen who directed Fassbender in Hunger, another film tackling heavy and difficult subject matters, Shame has been talked about for two reasons, Fassbender’s performance and the NC-17 rating the film was given upon release. Filmmakers these days avoid that dreaded rating whenever they can to avoid theater boycotts and loss of possible revenue.

But McQueen has seemed to embrace the rating considering the premise of the film. Fassbender is a rising star and his unflinching performance in Hunger makes me very interested in seeing his latest collaboration with McQueen.

FullMetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos: 2011 – Anime – 110 Min – Not Rated. Showing for two nights on Jan. 20-21 at 9:30 pm.

A fugitive alchemist (medieval chemist) with mysterious abilities leads the Elric brothers to a distant valley of slums inhabited by the Milos, a group of people struggling against bureaucratic exploitation. The brothers quickly find themselves in the middle of a rebellion, as the exiled Milos lash out against their oppressors.

In the middle of this conflict is Julia, a young alchemist who will do anything to restore the Milos to their former glory.

Still Playing at the Bijou:

Carnage: Playing at 5,7 and 9 pm Wednesday and Thursday. Showing at 7:45 pm Friday-Sunday.

Mozart’s Sister: Showing at 4:45 pm Wednesday and Thursday. Showing at 5:10 pm Friday-Sunday.

Melancholia: Showing at 7:45 pm Wednesday. Final two showings at 2 pm Saturday and Sunday.

David Minor

The Ides of March: 2011 – Drama – 101 Min – Rated R. Opening on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7:05 pm.

Featuring an impressive cast, The Ides of March follows Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), a cocky and ambitious young campaign press secretary whose job is to get Mike Morris (George Clooney) elected president. But as the campaign reaches a crucial turning point, Meyers’ idealistic and somewhat earnest view of politics turns dirty as certain individuals will do whatever is necessary to get their man elected.

The film has a cynical view of the world of politics and Clooney’s character embodies some of the same views and characteristics shared by our current president. The film works as a serious drama and as a political thriller and the final shot is both ambiguous and chilling. The all-star cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Marisa Tomei.

 

Still Playing at David Minor:

Moneyball: Showing at 5:15 pm on Wednesday. Showing at 9 pm Jan. 19-25.

Our Idiot Brother: Final showing on Wednesday at 5:15 pm.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Showing at 7:30 pm on Wednesday. Showing at 9 pm Jan. 19-25.

The Guard: Showing at 7:30 pm on Wednesday. Showing at 5:20 pm Jan. 19-25.

Contagion: Showing at 9:20 pm on Wednesday. Showing at 7:05 pm Jan. 19-25.

Midnight in Paris: Showing at 9:20 pm on Wednesday. Showing at 5:20 pm Jan. 19-25.

Local Theater: Student

One new play starts this week in student theater as South Eugene High School will debut Stanton’s Garage. Originally written by Joan Ackermann, Stanton’s Garage is set in a small-town service station in northern Missouri, where Lee, a Chicago surgeon, is stranded when she and her teenage future stepdaughter Frannie have car trouble on their way to a wedding where Lee is to meet her fiance–Frannie’s dad.

While at Stanton’s, Lee meets Ron, a wine merchant who happens to be going, uninvited, to the same wedding. In the midst of being stranded there, none of the staffers can figure out what’s wrong with Lee’s car and they’re all too distracted by their own problems. In the 24 hours that she and Frannie are marooned there, Lee becomes more worrisome about her impending marriage and where her overall life is headed.

Stanton’s Garage begins on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 pm and continues on the 21 and 26-28. For more information on the play, call South Eugene Theater at 541-790-8070.

Professional Theater

Nothing new this week in professional theater, but there are a number of plays that began last week and are still going on.

 

The Very Little Theatre is presenting The Underpants. A satirical farce written by Steve Martin about Louise and Theo Markes, a couple whose conservative existence is compromised when Louise’s underwear fall down in public. Theo doesn’t want to lose his job so he keeps his wife locked up in their house. But two men who witnessed Louise’s unfortunate event have become infatuated by her and want to rent the spare room they have available.

The play resumes on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 8 pm and runs through Sunday, Jan. 22 and again Jan. 26-28. Tickets are $10 on Thursdays, $15 all other days and $10 for seniors. All shows are at 8 pm except Sundays which are at 2 pm.

On Friday and Saturday, you can also catch The Great American Trailer Park Musical playing at the Actors Cabaret.

This two-act spectacle follows Lin, Pickles and Betty, three women living carefree lives at Armadillo Acres. But when Pippi the stripper moves in, things get a little more interesting. By the end of the show, there’s been erotic dancing, disco, TV show confessionals and flan.

Following the Friday and Saturday shows, the musical will resume Friday, Jan. 27 and 28. The show starts at 8 pm and tickets range from $16 to $27 without food included.

The Lord Leebrick Theatre debuted The Real Thing last week and it continues Thursday, Jan. 19-21 at 8 pm. A Sunday matinée will be shown on Jan. 22 at 2 pm.

Henry is a playwright struggling to write about love. It doesn’t help that he’s having an affair with Annie, who’s married to Max. The play deals with different relationships and the struggles these individuals face including honesty, integrity and fidelity. Stoppard’s story uses the “play within a play” tactic to keep viewers on their toes. This concept is one of many levels on which the author teases the audience into not knowing if they’re seeing reality or an act.

 

 

 

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.

Where Did the Week Go…

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

So in case you hadn’t heard, the Ducks are going to the Rose Bowl again, and with that comes more merchandise.

The new gear became available on Monday at the Duck Store, and one of the new shirts unveiled reads “Leader ‘O’ The Pac.” Oh Nike, so clever. But we’ve moved on from the conference champion shirts. Now we need the Rose Bowl attire. Judging from the website, the shirts look simple: your traditional “Oregon Ducks” with a big rose in the middle, or the classic image of two football helmets — in this case a Wisconsin and a Duck helmet, facing one another. They all look good and soon most of it will be gone.

I’ve never been a big swag guy, meaning I don’t often wear apparel from my teams. I have nothing against people who do, I just prefer to wear other clothing. Plus I think if I’m going to buy a new Duck shirt, I’ll wait until after the outcome of the Rose Bowl. Every time I would see those “12-0” shirts last year I would get a little irritated. There’s still one more game to go guys. Then, of course they lost the national title game and now people, including my sister, have these shirts that say “12-0” when really they should say “12-1.”

Every year there’s new stuff that comes out commemorating what the Ducks have just accomplished, and that’s great. But really it’s just a way for people to remind other people of what the Ducks did that specific time. Remember that one year when we played in the Civil War? Yeah, that happens every year. I don’t need a shirt confirming the specific day and time they played. If I’m going to a buy a new Duck shirt, I want it to say “Rose Bowl Champions” or “13-0.”

US Postal Service Troubles Could Help Netflix

Seeing Congressman Peter DeFazio hold a news conference to speak out about possible USPS cuts occurring at the Gateway processing facility made me think about Netflix and its CEO Reed Hastings speaking at an investor conference in New York on Tuesday.

It’s been a really bad year for the company. First, they split the DVD-by-mail and streaming services into two separate price points, and by doing that raised its prices by as much as 60 percent. Then they tried to make nice by naming the mail part of the subscription something other than Netflix, thinking consumers would change their minds about the raw deal because it didn’t say Netflix when they received their DVD in the mail.

The customer backlash has resulted in a staggering decline in Netflix’s stock price. In July, the company’s stock was trading at a peak of nearly $305. But in the five months since the subscription increase and subsequent fleeing of customers, Netflix Inc.’s stock was trading at about $71 on Wednesday.

The leading company in online streaming thought the DVD-by-mail service would eventually die and more and more customers would prefer watching movies through a computer. But the company pushed people just a little too quickly and paid the price for it.

But with the U.S. Postal Service facing bankruptcy and moving forward with cuts to first-class mail next spring, Netflix might just get their wish of becoming just a movie-streaming service. The Postal Service’s drastic attempt to save money would provide short-term relief, but ultimately could prove counterproductive for businesses who use the mail.

Movie buffs would have to wait just a little longer for those red envelopes to arrive in the mail, and they might get frustrated and finally cave in and switch to the streaming-only plan. Reed Hastings and Netflix envisioned a day when everything they did would be online. Now that might happen, thanks to the mail.

Un-Jolly Christmas Movie Pick

You would think a movie called A Christmas Tale would be a typical holiday film. It certainly has the elements: families coming together, snowy scenery and presents. But this French film from 2008 is not the happiest holiday tale ever told. It’s about a family dealing with mental illness, cancer and banishment.

Almost the entire film takes place at the home of the parents, Junon and Abel. Their daughter Elizabeth and her son Paul arrive, followed by the parent’s son Ivan, his wife Sylvia and their young sons. The last to show up is their son, Henri and his girlfriend, Faunia. The entire family is under one roof for the first time in six years following Henri’s banishment from the clan by sister Elizabeth after she had to pay off Henri’s debts and demanded he never see her again or visit their parent’s home.

But the banishment is lifted once Junon is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Two family members are a match, but the spats, fights, drunken toasts and overall bad behavior might threaten all of it.

A Christmas Tale is somewhat of a grind. It’s two-and-a-half hours long, has subtitles and portrays a family that isn’t always likable. But there’s heart and love under all the bickering. No family is perfect and the film accurately portrays the insecurities and jealousy that arise when loved ones come together. The story is heavy and sometimes bleak, but these characters are able to sustain a light mood throughout and prevent the film from becoming depressing. The cast has great chemistry and you believe they’re a family.

The holidays are a time when family comes together, and unfortunately it isn’t always happy or joyful. This is a film that breaks down damaged relationships and attempts to repair them through laughter and memories. It’s another unconventional Christmas film worth seeing.

Brandon Roy Forced to Retire

If you follow the Portland Trail Blazers at all, then Friday was not the greatest day. It was reported that Brandon Roy would retire due to injuries in both knees. It wasn’t a surprise that this would eventually happen, but the timing was. Just three days earlier it was announced that he would not only be ready for training camp but also compete for a starting job.

But at a meeting with his doctor, it was determined that if Roy continued to play basketball, his knees would get worse and he would risk the threat of not being able to walk as he got older.

Just like that, the franchise player who represented the team’s transition from the “Jail Blazers” era to the team of the future was done. Roy was the most talented player in the Blazers’ organization since Clyde Drexler, and it was only two years ago that many sports writers were saying he would eventually surpass Kobe Bryant as the best shooting guard in the Western conference. But at 27, a time when players enter their peak, Roy is forced to give up the game.  Who could blame him. His quality of life was at stake. Now the Blazers and fans need to move on.

Local Cinema Watch

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Ryan Beltram, EDN

This week doesn’t bring too many changes to the local cinema scene. But there are a few debuts that are worth mentioning, including a film about a father and son relationship, a doctor attempting to create a new form of skin and a movie that is so bad you have to see it to believe it.

Two films debut at the Bijou.

The Skin I Live In: Drama/Thriller – 2011 – 117 min. – Rated R. Starts on Friday, Nov. 18, at 5:25 PM and 8 PM. An additional screening is at 2:45 PM on Saturday and Sunday.

The Skin I Live In

A doctor kidnaps a woman and uses her as his guinea pig to perfect something that has become his obsession. No, I’m not talking about The Human Centipede. I’m referring to Pedro Almodovar’s latest film, The Skin I Live In.

Antonio Banderas plays Dr. Robert Ledgard, a plastic surgeon whose wife was burned in a car crash. Since her death, Dr. Ledgard has been obsessed with creating  a new type of skin that will protect against any type of trauma. After twelve years of work, he believes he has perfected his new skin and now he needs a test subject.

He picks a woman without a cosmetic flaw so as to be sure that his new skin is perfect. But as the scientific community starts to grow skeptical of his work, his past is revealed, showing how his patient is closely linked to the tragic events that led to his obsession.

The Room: Drama/Romance – 2003 – 99 min. – Rated R. Showing at 11 pm Saturday and Sunday.

For one weekend each month, the Bijou has been playing this notoriously bad movie from 2003. I don’t know anything about this movie other than the fact that it’s supposed to be so bad it’s become a cult classic. Judging by the trailer, if you’re into bad acting, unintentionally funny dialogue and perhaps the creepiest looking lead actor ever in a movie, then feel free to check out The Room. I’ve attached the trailer so you can judge for yourself.


Still Playing at the Bijou:

Take Shelter: Showing at 5, 7:45 and 10:20 pm, Wednesday and Thursday. Also showing at 7:30 and 10:10 pm on Friday with an additional screening at 2:15 pm on the weekend.

The Interrupters: Last two showings at 7 pm on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Last Circus: Last two showings at 9:45 pm on Wednesday and Thursday.

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

At David Minor this week, one new film debuts.

Beginners: Comedy/Drama/Romance – 2010 – 105 Min – Rated R. Debuting at 5:30 PM on Thursday, Nov. 18-23.

Beginners

Ewan McGregor stars as Oliver, a man still mourning the death of his father, Hal, (Christopher Plummer) when he meets the unpredictable Anna (Melanie Laurent of Inglourious Basterds). This new love opens up memories Oliver had with his father, who, following the death of his wife of 45 years, came out of the closet.

Suddenly an openly gay man at 75, Hal started to live as happily and open as he can for as long as he can. The sudden honesty of Hal brought the father and son closer together, and now Oliver want to take the lessons of love, bravery and humor his father taught him, to love Anna.

Still Playing at David Minor:

Bridesmaids: Showing at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, and at 9:30 pm Thursday, Nov. 17-23.

Crazy, Stupid, Love: Showing at 5:20 and 7:30 pm Wednesday, and 9:30 pm Thursday, Nov. 17-23.

Edward Scissorhands: Showing at 9:40 pm Wednesday, and 7:25 pm Thursday, Nov. 17-23.

Horrible Bosses: Showing at 9:40 pm Wednesday and 5:30 on Thursday, Nov. 17-23.

Water for Elephants: Showing at 5:20 pm on Wednesday and at 7:25 pm on Thursday, Nov. 17-23.

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.