Film Shorts

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Posted August 18, 2010 by KRISTIAN LIN in Film

breathless-filmOPENING:

Breathless (NR) Fiftieth anniversary re-release of Jean-Luc Godard’s French New Wave classic about two young outlaws (Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg) on a crime spree. Also with Daniel Boulanger, Jean-Pierre Melville, Henri-Jacques Huet, and Claude Mansard. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Cairo Time (PG) Patricia Clarkson stars as a magazine editor who falls in love with a retired cop (Alexander Siddig) while waiting for her husband to show up in Egypt. Also with Elena Anaya, Tom McCamus, and Amina Annabi. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Lottery Ticket (PG-13) Rap star Bow Wow stars in this comedy as a young man from the projects who tries to keep his winning lottery ticket a secret before he claims the money. Also with Brandon T. Jackson, Loretta Devine, Naturi Naughton, Keith David, Terry Crews, Charlie Murphy, Mike Epps, Bill Bellamy, Gbenga Akinnagbe, and Ice Cube. (Opens Friday)

Nanny McPhee Returns (PG) Emma Thompson reprises her role as the magically powered caretaker, helping a young English mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) raise her family while her husband is at war. Also with Oscar Steer, Asa Butterfield, Lil Woods, Eros Vlahos, Rosie Taylor-Ritson, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, and Ewan McGregor. (Opens Friday)

Piranha 3D (R) Alexandre Aja (High Tension) directs this movie about a group of spring break vacationers trying to survive when a school of prehistoric man-eating fish is let loose in a lake. Starring Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell, Ving Rhames, Jessica Szohr, Steven R. McQueen, Adam Scott, Dina Meyer, Ricardo Chavira, Kelly Brook, Eli Roth, Christopher Lloyd, and Richard Dreyfuss. (Opens Friday)

The Switch (PG-13) Jennifer Aniston stars in this comedy as a woman who becomes pregnant by artificial insemination without knowing that her best friend (Jason Bateman) drunkenly substituted his own sperm for the sample that she wanted to use. Also with Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Todd Louiso, Caroline Dhavernas, and Juliette Lewis. (Opens Friday)

Vampires Suck (PG-13) Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (Disaster Movie, Epic Movie) parody the Twilight films. Starring Jenn Proske, Matt Lanter, Chris Riggi, Anneliese van der Pol, Crista Flanagan, Kelsey Ford, and Ken Jeong. (Opens Wednesday)

Winnebago Man (NR) Ben Steinbauer’s documentary about his search for Jack Rebney, whose profanity-filled appearance in a 1989 RV commercial made him an internet sensation two decades later. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

NOW PLAYING:

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (PG) Sequel to the 2001 kids’ flick finds feline and canine spy agencies cooperating to stop a vengeance-obsessed cat (voiced by Bette Midler) who plans to drive every dog in the world insane. Like a James Bond movie for kids, it’s surprisingly tolerable, with decent action scenes and a story that zips along. Most importantly for parents, it doesn’t make you want to end your life. The CGI talking-animal effects are far from perfect, though, and my 10-year-old cousin only liked it but didn’t go crazy for it. Considering the cost of taking the family to the movies, this is probably best saved as a rental, but it’s far from a bad one. Additional voices by Sean Hayes, Neil Patrick Harris, Christina Applegate, James Marsden, Katt Williams, J.K. Simmons, Wallace Shawn, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Clarke Duncan, Roger Moore, and Nick Nolte. Also with Chris O’Donnell and Jack McBrayer. — Cole Williams

Despicable Me (PG) Slight but agreeable animated film features Steve Carell voicing a wannabe supervillain named Gru who adopts three unwanted girls from an orphanage (voiced by Miranda Cosgrove, Elsie Fisher, and Dana Gaier) to help him gain access to a rival villain and ultimately steal the moon from the sky. The girls help Gru get in touch with his feelings, and it’s thankfully not anywhere near as mushy as it could have been. Gru’s chattering yellow minions are a terrific comic creation, but there’s not enough good material to go around them and a great supporting voice cast. The closing credit sequence uses 3-D better than any other recent film. Additional voices by Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Danny McBride, Jack McBrayer, Mindy Kaling, and Julie Andrews.

Dinner for Schmucks (PG-13) The remake of Francis Veber’s 1999 French farce The Dinner Game stars Paul Rudd as a financial analyst who tries to win a promotion by bringing an eccentric IRS worker (Steve Carell) to a business dinner so that his firm’s executives can make fun of him. The American version makes the main character much less of a bastard, which does Rudd no favors, and puts us in the weird position of laughing at the idiots while condemning the businessmen in the movie for doing the same thing. The trump card is Carell, who wreaks havoc with wide-eyed wonder, spews malapropisms, and gets into a slapstick contretemps with a demented stalker (Lucy Punch). His inspired idiocy rescues the film. Also with Stephanie Szostak, Zach Galifianakis, Jemaine Clement, Bruce Greenwood, David Walliams, Ron Livingston, Kristen Schaal, Chris O’Dowd, Octavia Spencer, and Jeff Dunham.

The Expendables (R) Delivers exactly what you expect: terrible dialogue, macho posturing, shootouts and explosions, and enough testosterone flying around on screen to spatter audience members in the first few rows. Sylvester Stallone directs, co-writes, and stars in this throwback thriller as the leader of a multinational team of soldiers for hire sent to overthrow the dictator of a Latin American banana republic. The director does better with explosions than hand-to-hand combat, but the audience for this film is in it for the nostalgia and the ass-kicking by its older stars with a minimum of fuss. Also with Jason Statham, Giselle Itié, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Charisma Carpenter, Eric Roberts, David Zayas, Gary Daniels, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Inception (PG-13) One of the trippiest summer blockbusters in recent memory, this big brain-teaser stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the leader of a team of corporate spies who have to plant a self-destructive idea in the head of an heir (Cillian Murphy) by breaking into his dreams. Writer-director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) enhances the movie’s dreamscapes by twisting real locations into M.C. Escher-like tableaux, while cinematographer Wally Pfister and production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas make it all look elegant and beautiful. Nolan may have outsmarted himself here — the hero’s struggles to let go of his dead wife (Marion Cotillard) don’t pull the emotional weight that they should. Nevertheless, the movie sends you tumbling down a fascinating rabbit hole. Also with Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Tom Berenger, Lukas Haas, Pete Postlethwaite, and Michael Caine.

The Other Guys (PG-13) On a scale of Will Ferrell-Adam McKay comedies, this isn’t as good as Talladega Nights, but it’s way better than Step Brothers. Ferrell plays a forensic accountant who teams up with a disgraced NYPD detective (Mark Wahlberg) to solve a series of murders connected with financial fraud. The laughs fall off considerably in the second half, but neither Wahlberg nor Eva Mendes (as the accountant’s improbably hot wife) have ever been funnier onscreen, and there are some great set pieces like a brawl conducted in whispers and an exchange about the winner of a hypothetical lion vs. tuna fight. Stay for the closing credits, which feature animated graphics explaining the 2008 financial crisis. Also with Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Steve Coogan, Damon Wayans Jr., Rob Riggle, Bobby Cannavale, Lindsay Sloane, Ray Stevenson, Michael Keaton, and an uncredited Anne Heche.


Ramona and Beezus
(G) Beverly Cleary’s beloved series of kids’ books finally comes to the big screen, in a movie that’s somewhat more interesting than most others of its type. Joey King plays the famously imaginative troublemaker, who faces some serious economic hardship after her dad (a marvelously light John Corbett) loses his job. Director Elizabeth Allen ventures into some regrettably amateurish fantasy sequences to depict Ramona’s imagination, but the writing is reasonably sharp and there’s even a well-played romantic subplot between Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Howie Kemp’s Uncle Hobart (Josh Duhamel). A sequel wouldn’t be the worst thing. Also with Selena Gomez, Bridget Moynahan, Jason Spevack, Hutch Dano, and Sandra Oh.

Salt (PG-13) This implausible but stylish and highly enjoyable potboiler gets Angelina Jolie back to doing what she was made for: kicking large amounts of ass. She plays a CIA officer who’s fingered by a Russian defector (Daniel Olbrychski) as a Soviet double agent who will assassinate the Russian prime minister on U.S. soil. She then spends the rest of the movie running from her colleagues, while the script’s many plot twists leave us in suspense as to whether she’s actually who she claims to be. The story doesn’t hold up, but who cares when Jolie is taking down rooms full of armed guys and building a rocket launcher out of an office chair and cleaning supplies? Director Phillip Noyce makes it all into good old-fashioned spy fun. Also with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Liev Schreiber, August Diehl, Olek Krupa, Hunt Block, and Andre Braugher.

cera-420x0Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (PG-13) Edgar Wright’s brilliant, exhausting adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels stars Michael Cera as a Toronto bass player who finds that to win his new girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he must defeat her seven evil exes in combat, all of whom have superpowers. Wright loses the comic books’ easygoing rhythm, botches the ending, and flattens out many of the supporting characters. Yet the fight sequences are spectacular (featuring actors not known for martial arts), Wright’s flair for action and comedy are everywhere in evidence, and the ridiculously cool cast overacts to great comic effect. Bonus points for original songs by Beck and for the dance-off with flying demon hipster chicks. Also with Ellen Wong, Mark Webber, Alison Pill, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Brie Larson, Mae Whitman, Satya Bhabha, Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, and uncredited cameos by Thomas Jane and Clifton Collins Jr.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (PG) Nicolas Cage re-teams with Jon Turteltaub, who directed him in those dopey National Treasure movies, to make this ultra-lite fantasy-adventure. Cage plays a centuries-old disciple of Merlin who discovers that a geeky NYU physics grad student (Jay Baruchel) is the chosen one whose untapped magical powers can prevent a similarly aged evil wizard (Alfred Molina) from raising the dead and taking over the world. The special effects look really good here, but the writing is lame, and Baruchel — who can be a terrific supporting actor, especially in comedies — doesn’t have the charisma to carry a movie. Despite an homage to Fantasia, this movie feels distinctly un-magical. Also with Teresa Palmer, Toby Kebbell, Omar Benson Miller, Jake Cherry, Alice Krige, and Monica Bellucci.

Step Up 3D (PG-13) The idea of a dance movie in 3-D is fantastic, yet this movie makes underwhelming use of the technology. Adam G. Sevani reprises his role from the second film as an NYU freshman who falls in with a dance group that needs to win a hip-hop dance contest to save their rehearsal space. The movie does have a cotillion dance sequence set to “Bust Your Windows” and a charming duet for Sevani and Alyson Stoner. But the dancers are indistinguishable from one another in the contest sequences, and the team of five choreographers fails to come up with anything memorable. Also with Rick Malambri, Sharni Vinson, Keith Stallworth, Kendra Andrews, Stephen Boss, Facundo and Martín Lombard, Mari Koda, and Joe Slaughter.

Toy Story 3 (G) Yet another fantastic piece of work from Pixar. When their now-grown owner heads off to college, Woody and Buzz (voiced by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen) and the other toys are accidentally shipped off to a local day care center, where the toys are run by a strawberry-scented teddy bear (voiced by Ned Beatty) who acts like a cruel warden. The filmmakers turn this into a prison-break movie but cut the action with just the right amount of cutesy humor. Esoteric references abound, and the script includes a deliriously funny encounter between Barbie (voiced by Jodi Benson) and a morally shady clotheshorse Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton) among its wealth of rich comic material. Additional voices by Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, John Morris, Blake Clark, Teddy Newton, Bud Luckey, Javier Fernández Peña, Kristen Schaal, Jeff Garlin, Bonnie Hunt, Timothy Dalton, Whoopi Goldberg, and R. Lee Ermey.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (PG-13) The best one so far, for what that’s worth. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is targeted by a vengeful vampire (Bryce Dallas Howard) with an army of new vampires, so her two boyfriends (Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner) have to team up to save her. There’s less static here than in the previous Twilight films, but there’s still too much, and the romance stubbornly refuses to spark. Still, the script has its moments of insight and wit, and the movie is blessedly unafraid to lighten up every once in a while. The series still needs improvement, but it’s headed in an encouraging direction. Also with Xavier Samuel, Billy Burke, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Elizabeth Reaser, Peter Facinelli, Julia Jones, Gil Birmingham, Jodelle Ferland, Cameron Bright, Dakota Fanning, and Anna Kendrick.

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES:

The Concert (PG-13) Radu Mihaileanu’s comedy about a former Russian symphony conductor-turned-janitor (Alexei Guskov) who gathers his old musicians together to accept an invitation to play in Paris. Also with Mélanie Laurent, Dmitri Nazarov, François Berléand, Alexander Komissarov, and Miou-Miou.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (R) Gemma Arterton stars in this British thriller as a woman who turns the tables on the two men (Martin Compston and Eddie Marsan) who try to kidnap her for ransom.

Farewell (NR) Christian Carion (Joyeux Noel) directs this spy thriller starring Emir Kusturica as the real-life Soviet general who passed along state secrets to the West to hasten the end of the Cold War. Also with Guillaume Canet, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Dina Korzun, Niels Arestrup, Philippe Magnan, Fred Ward, Benno Fürmann, David Soul, Willem Dafoe, and Diane Kruger.

Get Low (PG-13) Robert Duvall stars in Aaron Schneider’s comedy as a 1930s Tennessee hermit who wants to hold a funeral party for himself while he’s still alive. Also with Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black, Scott Cooper, Bill Cobbs, and Gerald McRaney.

The Girl Who Played With Fire (R) The sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo stars Michael Nyqvist as a Swedish journalist who finds his investigative partner (Noomi Rapace) the accused party in a high-profile murder case. Also with Lena Endre, Sofia Ledarp, Peter Andersson, Georgi Staykov, Yasmine Garbi, Mikael Spreitz, Tehilla Blad, and Michalis Koutsogiannakis.


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