movie - Page 2

Local Cinema Watch

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Where can you find independent, documentary and foreign films on the big screen?  The Bijou of course and all those genres are represented this week.  An examination of the changing landscape of a southern state, a French crime thriller and a documentary about a famous poet and photographer highlight a typically creative week of unconventional cinema at the art house theater.

General Orders No. 9:  Showing at 6:00 PM Mon-Thurs.  Documentary – 2009 – 72 Min – Not Rated

Director Robert Persons’ directorial debut, General Orders No. 9 tells the story of the evolution of the state of Georgia for better or worse.  Using unorthodox storytelling to track the history of Georgia including historical maps, architectural artifacts, narration and cinematography of the landscape, Persons discusses the issue of the clash between nature and man’s industrial progression and whether the natural identity of Georgia can remain intact.  The focus of this film may only be about Georgia, but the issue of maintaining a territorial identity in a fast-changing world could involve any state and Persons attempts to make that point.

Point Blank


Point Blank
: Showing at (5:00) PM, 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM Monday-Thursday.  Crime/Thriller – 2010 – 84 Minutes – Not Rated

What would you do if you witnessed your pregnant wife being kidnapped in front of you?  Samuel Pierret is a nurse working the night shift when a murder attempt directed against one of his patients fails.  But this patient isn’t exactly innocent.  Despite doing his job, Pieret gets a phone call with specific instructions:  Remove the patient from the hospital, or his wife will die.  The situation escalates with foot and car chases through the streets of Paris, the involvement of a police commandant (Shocking!) and the fragile condition of Pierret’s very pregnant wife.

 

The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg:  Showing at 8:00 PM on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Documentary – 1994 – 82 Min – Not Rated

A special two-night event beginning on Tuesday showcases the 1994 documentary about Allen Ginsberg who helped define postwar American counterculture through his poetry and photographs.  Following both screenings on Tuesday and Wednesday, director Jerry Aronson will be in person for a Q & A session to discuss the film.

Originally released in 1994, Aronson’s documentary was re-released in 2007 with additional hours of interviews with a number of contemporary artists and cultural figures including Andy Warhol, Patti Smith and Norman Mailer.  Along with his appearance at the Bijou, copies of the 8-hour deluxe two-disc DVD of the film including the additions made in 2007 will be available to purchase.  Aronson spent 25 years accumulating more than 120 hours of film on Ginsberg and the result is this two-disc set.

How the Fire Fell: Showing at 8:00 on Thursday for one night:  Historical Drama – 2010 – Not Rated

Another director appears in person on Thursday as Edward P. Davee will present and then discuss his film How the Fire Fell.  Shot in Oregon and set in 1903 Corvallis, the film follows Edmund Creffield, a self-proclaimed prophet who formed the Brides of Christ cult.  The group, which was mostly comprised of women, followed Davee and his teachings of following the bible in it’s entirety, destroying material possessions and shunning all non-believers no matter how close.  The radical nature of Davee resulted in anger from families torn apart by his influence and ultimately led to the tragic demise of the Brides of Christ cult in 1906.

And for something completely different, the infamously bad movie The Room will be showing at 11:00 PM on Thursday and Friday.  I don’t know anything about this movie other than the fact that it’s supposed to be really bad.  Judging by the trailer, if you’re into bad acting, unintentionally funny dialogue and perhaps the creepiest looking lead actor ever in a movie, check out The Room.

Also opening on Friday is Restless, the latest from Portland native Gus Van Sant and Higher Ground from first-time director and star of the film Vera Farmiga.  The showtimes for both of those films is unavailable at this time.

David Minor is debuting two new movies this week.  A raunchy comedy and a big-budget art house movie.  

Tree of Life

The Tree of Life:  Debuting on Thursday at 7:20 PM and showing again on Saturday and Sunday at 7:20 PM.  Drama – 2011 – 139 Min – PG-13

I have a hard time recommending Terrence Malick films to people.  I don’t think there’s another director working today who divides audiences more.  His unconventional and nonlinear storytelling style frustrate audiences who are used to a straight-forward movie with a beginning, middle and end.  To describe a Malick film is difficult, but you know it when you see it.  Often choosing images of nature and sunlight over the actors in his films, Malick evokes a unique sense of wonder and beauty.  Who better to shoot a movie about the beginning of life on Earth than Malick then.

The Tree of Life stars Brad Pitt as the father of a Midwestern family in the 1950’s.  The film follows the life journey of the eldest son to Pitt, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to repair a complicated relationship with his father.  Jack is a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to not only the meaning of his own life, but life in general.  Jack as an adult is played by Sean Penn and the film cuts between the 1950’s, the present and the birth of life on earth.  Through Malick’s signature imagery, we see how both brute nature and spiritual grace shape not only our lives as individuals and families, but all life.

Horrible Bosses:  Debuting on Thursday at 5:30 PM and again at 9:40 PM Thursday-Saturday.  Comedy – 2011 – 98 Min – Rated R

If Bridesmaids was the summer comedy for women, Horrible Bosses was the one for guys.  Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day play three friends who are fed up with their bosses played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston.  Inspired by the Hitchcock classic, Strangers on a Train, the three friends scheme to kill each other’s boss so that each of the deaths can’t be linked to any of them.

This is the buddy comedy The Hangover Part II should have been.  Featuring plenty of raunchy moments, accidental drug inhalants and a running gag involving a cat, Horrible Bosses is funny from beginning to end.  The three friends are mostly likable despite their evil intentions and the bosses are just as memorable.  Collin Farrell is almost unrecognizable as a balding slob and some of the things Jennifer Aniston says might make you blush.

Still Playing at David Minor:

Bridesmaids:  Showing at 5:30 PM on Tuesday and Wednesday.  At 7:20 PM on Thursday-Sunday.

Everything Must Go:  Final showings at 7:45 PM on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hanna:  Showing at 5:30 PM Tuesday and Wednesday.  At 9:40 PM Thursday-Sunday.

Fast Five:  Final showings at 9:30 PM on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Submarine:  Showing at 7:45 PM Tuesday and Wednesday.  At 5:30 PM Thursday-Sunday.

— Ryan Beltram, EDN

Oct 4 – Local Cinema Watch

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It’s apparently documentary week at the Bijou as three documentaries debut telling stories about the struggling newspaper industry, the fascination with celebrities and gossip and an LSD-fueled bus trip across the country.

Page One: Inside the New York Times:  Showing at (5:00) every night this week.  Documentary – 2011 – 88 Min – Rated R

Page One

Print journalism has been struggling for years, but could The New York Times, the number one newspaper in the world be in danger?  Page One chronicles the paper’s daily struggle with the notion of the internet surpassing print as our main news source as well as following the journalists who continue to tell stories and uncover necessary truths.  The film gains unprecedented access to the Times newsroom for a year following hardened, oldschool newspapermen as well as young journalists embracing new media.

Tabloid:  Showing at (5:30) and 7:40 all this week.  Documentary – 2010 – 87 Min – Rated R

Acclaimed documentarian Errol Morris (Gates of Heaven, The Thin Blue Line) tackles the world of tabloid headlines, love and obsession in this documentary about Joyce McKinney, a former “beauty queen” who infamously kidnapped the man she loved from a Mormon Missionary and held him as prisoner in an attempt to de-flower him from his religious ways.  Featuring interviews with McKinney herself, Morris presents a story that walks a fine line between fact and fiction examining our fascination with gossip and scandalous headlines.  Before the days of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, there was Joyce McKinney.

Magic Trip:  Showing at 7:00 all this week.  Documentary – 2011 – 107 Min – Rated R

In 1964, Ken Kesey, author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” set off on a cross-country road trip to the New York World’s Fair to promote his second novel, “Sometimes a Great Notion.”  Accompanied by a group of friends called the “Merry Pranksters,” Kesey and the Pranksters intended to make a documentary about their trip using a 16 MM camera.  But the film was never finished and the footage remained unseen until now.  Directors Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood worked with the Film Foundation, HISTORY and the UCLA Film Archives to restore more than 100 hours of film and audiotape and condensed it into this feature-length documentary.

At David Minor this week, two movies debut later in the week and they couldn’t be any more different.

Fast Five

Fast Five:  Starting Thursday, October 6 at 9:30.  Action – 2011 – 130 Min – Rated PG-13

When has the fifth movie in a franchise ever been good, let alone the best one in the series?  After the somewhat surprising success of Fast and Furious (AKA number 4 in the series), the fifth installment was quickly greenlight with both Vin Diesel and Paul Walker returning.  But the inclusion of another action star, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, gave a tired franchise the jolt of energy it needed.

Picking up where the last film ended, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) and a couple friends have busted Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) out of prison and have escaped to South America.  Insert Luke Hobbs (Johnson) as a relentless federal agent intent on bringing in Toretto.  Stuck in Rio de Janeiro, Toretto and O’Conner look to pull off one last job in order to gain their freedom.  But standing in their way is not only Hobbs, but a corrupt local businessman who owns the cops and the town.  Fast Five is not only the best one in the series, but it was also one of the better movies of the summer.  Where other action movies this year tried to be dark and serious, Fast Five knows what it is, a fun action movie with plenty of car chases, pretty girls and beautiful scenery.

Submarine: Starting Thursday, October 6 at 7:45.  Comedy/Drama – 2010 – 97 Min – Rated R

Submarine

Oliver Tate is struggling with problems many fifteen-year-olds have; being popular in school, handling a female crush and dealing with parents constantly bickering.  Tate’s two goals are to save his parents’ marriage and lose his virginity before his next birthday.  Using unorthodox methods he picked up watching old Melville films, he monitors his parents’ sex life by charting the dimmer switch in their bedroom and forges suggestive love letters from his mom to dad to keep them interested in one another.  Meanwhile, Oliver attempts to woo his classmate, Jordana, a self-professed pyromaniac who is constantly unpredictable.  Produced by Ben Stiller, this dry, British comedy debuted at The Toronto International Film Festival last year to rave reviews.

Still Playing at David Minor:

Bridesmaids: Showing at 7:15 on Tuesday and Wednesday.  At 5:30 and 9:30 Thursday-Sunday.

Everything Must Go: Showing at 5:20 on Tuesday and Wednesday.  At 7:45 on Thursday-Sunday.

Win Win: Final showings at 5:20 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hanna: Showing at 9:35 on Tuesday and Wednesday.  At 5:30 on Thursday-Sunday.

X-Men First Class: Final showing at 7:15 on Wednesday, October 5.

Local Cinema Watch

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There’s something for everyone this week at the Bijou.  A little comedy, some drama, throw in some sci-fi and top it off with a Schwarzenegger flick.

Another World

Another Earth: Showing at 9:30 every night this week.  Drama – 2011 – 92 Min – PG-13

How would you react if another Earth suddenly popped up in the solar system?  Rhoda Williams, a young woman recently accepted into MIT’s astrophysics program and a brilliant composer, John Burroughs who has just reached the top of his profession and expecting the birth of his second child, inadvertently cross paths after tragedy happens.  Despite the discover of another Earth and possibly an alternate universe, these two characters become estranged from the world and the selves they once knew.  But after they become involved, one of them is presented with the opportunity to travel to the other Earth and not only start over, but embrace an alternative reality.

Despite the sci-fi element to this story, Another Earth is really a drama and romance about two people trying to reconnect with the world after their lives drastically change.  But now there’s another world and that idea opens up an endless amount of questions about our existence and what really matters.  It’s a fascinating and unique premise that fans of both drama and science fiction might like to check out.

Life, Above All:  Showing at (5:45) and 8:00 all this week.  Drama – 2010 – 100 Min – PG-13

Set in South Africa, this foreign drama tells the story of Chanda, a 12-year-old girl who has recently lost her newly-born sister.  Following the death, Chanda’s mother flees their small village in Johannesburg due to rumors about what caused the death.  Sensing that the gossip stems from prejudice and superstition, Chanda leaves home and school in search of her mother and the truth.

The Trip

The Trip:  Showing at (4:45) and 7:10 all this week.  Comedy – 2010 – 107 Min – No Rating

Steve Coogan plays himself in this mockumentary about the actor who’s asked by The Observer to tour the country’s finest restaurants and write about them.  The only problem is he has no one to go with on this adventure except his best friend Rob Brydon.  This is really just a road trip movie for Coogan and Brydon to improvise, lob insults at one another and compete over who does a better Michael Caine impression.  The Trip is directed by Michael Winterbottom who directed Coogan and Brydon in another mockumentary-style film-within-a-film called Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.  If your a fan of dry, british humor in the vain of Monty Python then you’ll probably enjoy The Trip.

The Terminator: Begins Thursday, September 22 at 11:30 PM.  Action – 1984 – 107 Min – Rated R

When I think of art house cinema, I don’t think of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.  But the Bijou has dubbed this Schwarzenegger September by showing four of Arnold’s movies.  From Thursday through Saturday, you can watch the movie that made Arnold a star.  The Terminator is basically one long chase movie that never fails to entertain.  It’s a bit dated in the fashion department (what 80’s movie isn’t), but it’ s action-packed from beginning to end and Linda Hamilton is great as the hero trying to outrun the cyborg.

At David Minor this week, there’s only one new film playing and it’s the funniest movie of the year.

Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids:  Showing at 5:15 on Thursday, September 22.  Comedy – 2011 – 125 Min – Rated R

It’s been called the Hangover for chicks.  But to compare Bridesmaids to The Hangover Part II would be doing it a disservice.  This is a hilarious comedy that both men and women will enjoy.  Kristen Wiig plays Annie, a woman whose life kind of sucks right now.  She has a crappy job, terrible roommates and a guy friend who only wants to sleep with her.  She’s asked to be a maid of honor for her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph).  Seeing her best friend getting married and being happy should mask her own crappy life, but Annie has to compete with Lillian’s new friend and fellow bridesmaid Helen (Rose Byrne) for Lillian’s affection.

Bridesmaids has a lot of heart, numerous laugh-out-loud moments and will definitely become one of those movies you quote over and over.  It runs a little too long, but that’s a minor complaint.  This is the funniest movie of the year and should be seen with an audience.

Other movies still playing at David Minor:

Everything Must Go: Showing at 5:30

Hanna: Showing at 9:40

Paul: Showing at 9:40

Win Win: Showing at 5:30, 7:25

X-Men: First Class: Showing at 7:25

‘Jaws’ concludes Crescent Village’s “Movies Under the Stars” Series

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You’ll never go in the water again!  Has there ever been a tagline for a movie more affective and more true than that?  Released in the summer of 1975, Jaws was a first on many levels.  It was the first big movie for a then 28 year-old director by the name of Steven Spielberg.  It was the first film to gross $100 million at the box office and because of its success, unofficially became the first summer blockbuster ever released.  But unlike other blockbusters that have come and gone, Jaws has been remembered as something more than just a summer popcorn movie.

The original poster

Often the movies that have a real affect on people are  those that tell a true story or one that is dramatic and  emotional in subject matter.  People can relate to those  kinds of stories.  But in the case of Jaws, the affect it had on moviegoers was terror and fear, but in a good  way.  The plot is as simple as any summer movie.  A  local sheriff must team up with a crazy fisherman and a  young oceanographer to hunt and kill a shark that has  been terrorizing a small island community.  A simple  premise, yet the way the story unfolds is believable,  compelling and thrilling.

Any great movie has a memorable opening sequence. It’s what sets the table for the rest of the film.  Remember that tagline?  The tone of the film is set  within the first five minutes as a young woman decides  to go skinny dipping off the shores of Amity Island, a  fictional New England town in the movie.  On the surface, she’s basking in her youthfulness as she enjoys a late night dip under the stars.  But below, you hear the music.  Something is getting closer and closer and suddenly she is dragged under.  Her remains wash up on shore and it’s determined that it was caused by a shark.

Not a great start for new Sheriff Martin Brody (Roy Scheider).  Naturally he wants to close the beaches, but because of an unscrupulous mayor and other locals who rely on summer fun to drive up business, Brody backs down.  Another death occurs and soon the whole town is swamped with amateur hunters and fisherman hoping to cash in on the reward for killing the shark.  But Brody wants it done right so he decides to form his own team to make sure they get the right shark.

Brody wants brains and brawn so he hires Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), a young marine biologist who’s curious about finding the shark, but not necessarily killing it.  Some may argue that Hooper is mainly exposition for the audience to rely on for information.  But he’s there for Brody’s benefit and his character becomes more defined as the movie progresses.  The man who insists on leading this deadly voyage is Quint (Robert Shaw), an old school seaman with lots of experience hunting sharks.  Shaw gets the loudest role in the movie by far, but he disappears into his character and he delivers the best monologue in the movie.

Robert Shaw disappeared into his Quint character.

So many movies these days loose steam as they go along, but Jaws is at its best when the three men are aboard Quint’s boat the Orca, and attempt to find the shark.  The third act of the film is a perfect blend of humor, thrills and action.  You learn a little bit about each character when they’re aboard the Orca both in the dialogue and their actions.  Each of them could have easily been one-dimensional characters, but from the time they spend on that boat until the end, you know them and you care about what happens to them.

The mechanical shark used for this movie infamously didn’t work most of the time, so Spielberg had to rely on what you don’t see to provide scares.  It might have turned out to be the most serendipitous event ever.  Shots of the dark ocean and glimpses of the shark’s fin are all you need to see to feel the danger and terror in some of the scenes.  Instead of marveling at the size of the shark by seeing it,  we’re frightened by what we might see if it ever fully showed itself.  So not only are we afraid of the shark, but also the water.    

You could say that everything that happens on the island is just setup for the eventual journey these three characters take on the boat, but they have to earn that journey and the film has many quiet moments that make you fall in love with the characters.  A scene in particular that does this is when Brody, his wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary) and Hooper have dinner.  It’s a funny and endearing scene as Brody appears to have too much to drink, but you also learn a little bit about Hooper’s backstory and why he’s fascinated with sharks.  Plus the scene involves my favorite line in the movie.  Hooper questions why  Brody lives on an island if he’s afraid of water.  Brody’s response after a few glasses of wine: “It’s only an island if you look at it from the water.”

shock and awe

 Jaws was a groundbreaking film.  It was the  first film to successfully open nationwide on  hundreds of screens simultaneously using  “wide release” as a distribution pattern.  It  was the original blockbuster.  But that’s not what makes it great.  It’s a summer movie  with both brains and thrills.  The characters  are three-dimensional, humor is seamlessly put into the story at just the right moments and when it has to, it thrills us and scares us.  If only every summer movie could do that.

Jaws is the final movie in Crescent Village’s summer series: “Movies Under the Star.”  It will be shown on Friday, September 16 at 7:45.  Admission is free and you are asked to bring your own chairs and blankets.

Local Cinema Watch

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It’s been a pretty disappointing year for movies.  Uninspiring sequels: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Hangover Part IIScream 4.  Highly anticipated disappointments: Sucker PunchGreen LanternBattle: Los Angeles.  And movies that felt like they could have been so much better:  Super 8ThorCowboys & Aliens30 Minutes or Less.  Hell even Pixar made a bad movie this year with Cars 2But despite a lackluster summer at the cinema, there were a few bright spots and two of them are debuting at the David Minor Theater this week. 

Hanna - Bourne on estrogen?


Hanna
:  First showing at 5:30 Thursday, September 8.  Action – 2011 – 111 Minutes – Rated PG-13

Think of Hanna as The Bourne Identity meets an old  fairy tale.  Saoirse Ronan plays Hanna, a 16-year-old  girl who lives in the woods with her father (Eric Bana).    Unlike most teenage girls, Hanna has the strength,  stamina and intelligence of a soldier having been  trained by her father, an ex-CIA man.  After years of  living in isolation with just her father, Hanna suddenly  is thrown into the modern-day world and forced to use  her unique skills to elude a ruthless government agent  (Cate Blanchett) who will do anything to keep both  Hanna and her father a secret.  Hanna is a unique  thriller with outstanding fighting sequences, an ass-kicking soundtrack and beautiful European locations.  

Superhero reboot?

 

X-Men: First Class: First showing at 9:15 Friday, September 9.  Action – 2011 – 131 Minutes – Rated PG-13

There were a lot of superhero movies this summer and the best one was X-Men: First Class.  Set before the events of the first three X-men movies, First Class tells the story of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr before they were known as Professor X and Magneto.  Before they became the most powerful mutants on opposite sides, they were just two young men discovering their powers for the first time.  But at the hight of the Cold War in the early 1960s, their views on where mutants fit in the world were very different and their relationship would forever change during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Unlike the other superhero films this summer, X-Men: First Class felt like the most fun despite being an origins story.  Set in the early 1960s and feeling a lot like the James Bond films from that decade, the movie has exciting action sequences and terrific performances particularly from James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Professor X and Magneto.

Everything Must Go: Showing at 7:30 on Thursday, September 8.  Comedy/Drama – 2010 – 97 Minutes – Rated R

Also opening on Thursday is Will Ferrell’s latest attempt at serious material, Everything Must Go.  This film had a very short run at the Bijou and was just released on DVD last week.  Fans of Ferrell’s usual work might not find a rare dramatic turn from him as appealing.  Check out last week’s local cinema watch for a synopsis of the film.

(Still Playing) Thursday Listings

Win Win: Showing at 9:15

Paul: Showing at 5:30

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front: Showing at 7:30

(Last Chance to See) Thursday Listings

The Breakfast Club: Showing at 9:15

Over at the Bijou, they have four films showing.

Daylight: Showing at 10:10 on Thursday, September 8.  Horror/Thriller – 2010 – 75 Minutes – No Rating

On their way to a wedding, a couple picks up a hitchhiker they shouldn’t have.  There isn’t a lot of information on this film.  Watching the trailer, it looks very independent, relying on psychological thrills over the usual genre thrills.  Judging by the trailer, it looks like a Terrence Malick film with blood and violence.

Incendies: Showing at 7:30 on Thursday, September 8.  Drama – 2010 – 130 Minutes – Rated R

Incendies

This Oscar-nominated film from Canada tells the story of  twins who travel to the Middle East in search of their  troubled family roots.  Following their mother’s death, the  sisters receive a pair of envelopes from their mother’s  will.  One envelope is for the father they thought was  dead and the other for a brother they didn’t know existed.   Upon these startling revelations, they decide to dig up  family history by traveling to a foreign country to seek the  truth about their lives.

(Still Playing)

 The Guard: Showing at (5:10), 7:25 and 9:35 on  Thursday, September 8.  Comedy/Thriller – 2011 – 96  Minutes – Rated R

 Midnight in Paris: Showing at (5:00) on Thursday,  September 8.  Romantic Comedy – 2011 – 100 Minutes –  Rated PG-13

Check out last weeks cinema watch for a synopsis of these two films.

Thor Review

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♣♣♣♣♣  out of  ♣♣♣♣♣

I come from a place where magic and science are one…

Marvel Comics has been mining it’s treasure trove of material, at a multi-million dollar level anyway, for over a decade now. It started with their holy grail: The X-Men, the penultimate, be all/end all of superhero flicks, in 2000 and hasn’t

stopped since. From Blade to Iron Man to Spiderman to Hulk, the catalog of muscle-bound, leather-wearing, public-shying characters is nearly endless… nearly…

With all of this money spent both behind the camera and in the theater, Marvel and all of the studios, actors, crews, and writers have successfully jump started a genre that was all but dead just a few years ago. (Did YOU see the 1994 version of Fantastic Four? Well no one else did either) Now they can even take comics that seem like horrible ideas, and make excellent movies out of them. Case in point: Thor, a norse god, son of Odin, and just all around reeking of cheese. The brunt of innumerable jokes over the years, Thor and his “magic” hammer burst on to the big screen in Hollywood epic fashion this weekend… kicking off the big summer movie season for 2011.

When I first took Thor seriously was when I realized that Kenneth Branagh was directing it. The Shakespearean actor/writer/director is known more for his 4+ hour depictions of 500 year old plays than an uber-CGI action blockbuster. Then I heard about Natalie Portman and didn’t care how bad it was going to be… cause I’ll sit in a theater seat for 2 hours and watch her drink a Pepsi or something… it doesn’t matter… as long as the camera is on her.

Well I can say I’m extremely happy I was wrong. Thor is a great movie, in the vein of Iron Man (1, not the victim of the writer’s strike that was 2), and nearly as awesome as the immaculate Batman movies from Christopher Nolan (hands-down the best “hero” movies ever made, super or not). Kenneth Branagh hits the nail on the head, pun intended. Thor has everything a superhero movie should, and to tell the God’s (I’ve got a million of ’em) honest truth, I think this is the best Marvel movie yet. As good as the X-Men movies were, I hate Bryan Singer and think he should be banished from Earth, because he did them wronger than wrong.

Thor treads a very fine line between cheesey and cartoony, yet weaves between them like a figure skater.

Thor belongs to a race of beings that live in space, in the city/galaxy (calaxy?) of Asgard, son of Odin and brother to Loki. The movie side-steps the whole “god” issue by telling a backstory where early man worshiped these beings “like gods.”

Sir Anthony

Anthony Hopkins is… well… Anthony Hopkins as Odin, the King of Asgard, and possibly the Universe. When he was young, a race of aliens called the Frost Giants obtained a very powerful item that allowed them to destroy and take over much of the universe. Odin and the vikings from space vanquished the Frost Giants to their home planet, a frozen wasteland, and peace was known across the galaxy.

Flashforward: when Odin’s sons, Thor and Loki grow older, one of them will be king. Thor, the first born, is of course the first choice, but the subtext needs to be established for the future “struggle for the crown.” So when the coronation day comes, Loki pulls a little prank and opens a back door for a few Frost Giants to sneak into the castle and attempt to steal back the source of all their power- a glowing blue box. Loki didn’t mean to bring about the end of the universe as he knew it, he just wanted to mess with his brother on his big day. This “invasion” gives an arrogant Thor all the reason to chase the Frost Giants back to their homeworld and kill them all for good, but Odin tells him to chill (that one was a reach). You can see where this is going right?

Thor defies his father and takes his team o’ BA’s to the frosty homeworld in search of how and why the creatures had snuck into the palace when the only way into Asgard is through a very, very cool transport system called “the rainbow road” (or the Bifröst Bridge). There is an epic hammer-tossing fight scene, a big-bad nasty thing, and ultimately, a banishment to Earth. Thor’s actions prove him brash, greedy, and unworthy of the crown and the power of Odin… and he doesn’t get it.

Chris Hemsworth (Thor) previously played Tiberius Kirk (James T’s pappy) in the reboot of Star Trek and blew me away. Seriously, try to watch the first 15 minutes of Star Trek without crying, just try.  I don’t know what it is about Aussies that makes them the most charismatic and adorable peeps, but Hemsworth is going to be much more well known than he his right this minute, mark my words. He’s about the size of a house, and it looks like he’s benching one too. He manages some of the most silly dialogue in recent memory, but it all comes out with the grace and poise of… well… Shakespeare…

So kudos to Kenneth Branagh and crew for defying the odds and making one of the best “super”hero movies yet. Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, and the radiant Natalie Portman all give great humanity to the film in it’s Earth scenes. A great contrast against the sheer magnitude of the awesome CGI universe we are shown. This is an important aspect of a great movie, that the setting must be a character in itself. So many times do movies imply, tell, and gloss over settings, especially when they’re as big as the universe in Thor… but in this case Branagh does an excellent job of making the universe of Thor feel like our neighborhood. If you aren’t able to suspend your disbelief, this isn’t the movie for you, a giant floating city in the heavens with cascading waterfalls that spill off into space will seem hoaky and not majestic. A universe where science and magic exist as one. Very good flick, and very, very fun.

Review: ‘Rango’

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♣♣♣♣    out of    ♣♣♣♣♣


Let’s talk 3-D for a minute. Right now 3-D is everywhere. Walk into a Best Buy, what’s the “hype” all about (besides iPad2)? You guessed it… 3-D. I picked up a new game for the PS3 yesterday, and what do you know? It’s 3-D ready (if you have thousands of dollars for a 3-DTV). I haven’t seen this big a push since HDTV… but 3-D is no HD. We all literally JUST upgraded to flatscreens! We just managed to get our wives/girlfriends’ eyes adjusted to high def so that they recoil in horror at the sight of standard definition! Now TV companies are just being GREEDY. I remember seeing 1080p for the first time and it took me back to the 4th grade when I got my first pair of glasses… Thinking how “this is how we’re supposed to see things on TV.” There is no benefit to 3-D like with High Def… When I ponied up the cash to go see Avatar 3-D, I will admit that I was totally impressed. Avatar’s 3-D is amazing, hands down. Being filmed in 3-D with the new technology made it one of the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, but sadly, no one has recaptured that (until Avatar 2 I’m sure). The past year and half has brought us more 3-D movies than I ever remember from the last time they tried to sell it too us… and all of them have been sub-standard, dark, and make your head hurt.

Rango on the other hand, is presented in beautiful and glorious 2-D. The animation is of the caliber when you can’t tell if it’s stop-motion puppets or CGI. There are moments in Rango where I honestly thought I was looking at a real desert, a real town, the movie’s computer generated world is on par with anything coming out of Pixar… a feat not easy to accomplish. It tells the story of a lonely chameleon named Rango, who’s world is literally shattered one day on the side of a desert highway. He ends up in the small western town of Dirt, and unwittingly becomes the new sheriff.

“Voiced” by Johnny Depp, Rango is a blend of Depps. Take one part Captain Jack Sparrow,  one part Raoul Duke, mix them together with a healthy dose of Mad Hatter and you’ve got one funny little spazoid-chameleon. His mannerisms and dialog alone were enough to have me giggling, but the hairy situations Rango finds himself in were laugh-out-loud funny. We took our 10 year old daughter and our 4 year old son, my daughter was glued to the screen– my 4 year old started to fidget halfway through and had to be talked through it a little… but he loved it in the end. The plot is simple, remember Blazing Saddles? Yeah, except instead of a railroad, it’s water. The town of Dirt has none, and it’s up to the new sheriff to help solve the mystery of the disappearing h2o.

Other actors like Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, Ned Beatty, Ray Winstone and Timothy Olyphant all lend hands to make this homage to the classic western. While it is mainly aimed at a 5-15 age group, parents will love the old movie references, innuendos, Blazing Saddles jokes, and even a cameo by the two convertible-driving madmen from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (bats included).  The movie certainly pushes the boundaries of PG, with all of the animals in the “old west” touting guns, drinking, and spitting… a lot… but it never takes it’s eye off the kid-friendly prize. Some parents might feel it a tad inappropriate when Rango asks his headless Barbie friend if “they are real?” I heard my 10 year old daughter laugh, but I wonder at what…?

All in all Rango sits comfortably at 8.5 on a scale of 1 (All Dogs Go to Heaven 2) to 10 (Wall-E). If your kids are yanking at your shirt to go see it, do yourself a favor and take them. Rango is rated PG for rude humor, language, action and smoking.

RANGO – ‎1hr 47min‎ – ‎Rated PG‎ – ‎Animation/Action/Adventure‎
Regal Valley River Center Stadium 15 – 500 Valley River Center, Eugene, OR
11:35am 12:05 2:00 2:30 4:35 5:05 7:10 7:40 9:50 10:20pm
Cinemark 17 – Springfield OR – 2900 Gateway Street, Springfield, OR – Map
11:25am 12:45 2:05 3:25 4:45 6:05 7:25 8:45 10:05pm

New Releases for 3/11

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Another week has gone by movie fans, and here we are at Friday again. How many movies have you seen this week? Coming to local theaters this weekend we’ve got a couple of pre-spring movies to get through before Hollywood kicks off it’s yearly Pre-Summer-Spring-Movie-Extravaganza sometime in April.

Up this weekend we’ve got Battle:Los Angeles, a movie that I was completely psyched about until I sat down to read the reviews. One sunny day in Los Angeles, meteors start falling from the sky and hitting the water around Santa Monica surfers… then those meteors get up and start attacking. Alien/robot/thingys storm the beach to invade Earth. Aaron Eckheart (Thank You for Smoking) is a great actor who I can tell is going to be lost in a sea of explosions, special effects, gunfire, and a lot of shouting of “fall back!” and “get down!” Michelle Rodriguez also joins in as a grunt who helps repel the alien forces. What looked like a promising alien invasion movie looks to be two hours of “shakey cam” and CGI… reviewers say it’s better than Skyline, which I liked, so we’ll see. Battle: Los Angeles is rated PG-13 for sustained and intense sequences of war violence and destruction, and for language. (PG-13 for a “war” movie? sigh….)

Also for the tween/teen demo out there we’ve got the gorgeous Amanda Seyfried (Big Love, Chloe, that ABBA movie) in Red Riding Hood, from the director of Twilight… surprise! Guess what this movie is about and you win a free trip to the next paragraph. Guess who should go see it and who the movie is aimed at- and you won’t ever have to think about it again after this. Alas, Seyfried plays the title role in this werewolf movie. I don’t know how much Gary Oldman gets per movie these days, but I think it must be shrinking, which is a shame… Gary Oldman is a genius that is often fun to watch no matter what, but Red Riding Hood, no matter how bad my 10 year old daughter wants to see it, is not on my list of “ever.” It’s rated PG-13 for violence and creature terror, and some sensuality.

Last but not least we’ve got the kid-friendly Mars Needs Moms which is hitting the IMAX theater at Valley River as well as playing at Gateway. Disney serves up a quick-witted story about a boy named Milo, who begins to realize he might need his mom after all- AFTER martians kidnap her. It’s your run-of-the-mill Disney 3-D animated spectacular that’s getting positive reviews on the interweb. One kid-friendly animated movie a week is my quota and I filled it yesterday with Rango, a movie far-superior (watch for my review) than anything coming out this weekend. If you’re dying for an IMAX 3-D headache then this is the movie for you! Mars Needs Moms is rated PG for sci-fi action and peril.

 

Have a great Friday, and we’ll see you at the movies!