News Column

MOVIES [Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)]

May 10, 2013

YellowBrix

OPENING FRIDAY

Aftershock (R, 90 min.) See review on Page 18.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Disconnect (R, 115 min.) See review on Page 16.

Studio on the Square.

The Great Gatsby (PG-13, 142 min.) Leonardo DiCaprio is F. Scott Fitzgerald's mysterious Jazz Age millionaire in this elaborate adaptation from director Baz ("Moulin Rouge") Luhrmann.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3- D), Ridgeway Four, Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Peeples (PG-13, 95 min.) See review on Page 14.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

SPECIAL MOVIES

The Day I Saw Your Heart (Not rated, 98 min.) Dedicated to international cinema, the Wider Angle Film Series continues with director Jennifer Devoldre's 2011 French comedy about a single woman (Mlanie Laurent of "Inglourious Basterds") who is nearing 30 but not getting any closer to a satisfying romantic relationship.

6 p.m. Wednesday, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar. Admission is free; children under 17 admitted with parent or guardian. Call 415-2726.

The Metropolitan Opera: Giulio Cesare (Not rated, 275 min.) Filmed live onstage in New York, an encore screening of a recent production of Handel's 18th-century romantic classic about the love affair of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra.

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $20. Visit malco.com.

Midnight in Paris (PG-13, 94 min.) In conjunction with the exhibit "Bijoux Parisiens: French Jewelry from the Petit Palais, Paris," the Dixon hosts a screening of Woody Allen's hit 2011 comedy about an American writer (Owen Wilson) magically transported to the 1920s Paris of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Picasso.

6 p.m. Thursday, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, 4339 Park. Admission: $7, or $5 for students and seniors (65 and older). Visit dixon.org.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (R, 100 min.) The monthly screening of the ultimate audience-participation sci-fi rock 'n' roll musical cult classic.

11:30 p.m. Friday, Evergreen Theatre, 1705 Poplar. Tickets: $10. Visit rockyhorrormemphis.com.

Samurai Rebellion (Not rated, 128 min.) Toshiro Mifune is an aging swordsman who must defy his clan lord to protect the woman his son loves in this 1967 masterpiece from director Masaki Kobayashi. Prior to the film, starting at 6:15 p.m., the Memphis Martial Arts Center will provide a free martial arts demonstration in the museum rotunda.

7 p.m. Thursday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $8, or $6 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

Titans of the Ice Age: Narrated by Christopher Plummer, this Imax feature film transports you to the otherworldly frozen landscapes of the Northern Hemisphere 10,000 years before modern civilization. Runs through June 21. Tickets: $8.25; $7.50 senior citizens, and $6.50 for ages 3-12.

Imax Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 901-636-2362 for showtimes, tickets and reservations.

To Fly! Documentary shows the history of flight, from 19th century balloons through 21st century space probes. Runs through June 21. Tickets $8.25; $7.50 senior citizens, and $6.50 for ages 3- 12.

Imax Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 901-636-2362 for show times, tickets and reservations.

Wild Strawberries (Not rated, 92 min.) Immediately after "The Seventh Seal," director Ingmar Bergman delivered another masterpiece, the story of an egotistic old professor (Victor Sjostrom) plagued by nightmares, daydreams and disturbing reveries. Hosted by Indie Memphis as part of the Memphis in May International Festival's salute to Sweden, the film will be screened in a 35-mm print.

7 and 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, Studio on the Square. Tickets: $8. Visit indiememphis.com.

NOW SHOWING

Admission (PG-13, 107 min.) HH Career women, you will find happiness by embracing your maternal instincts. Parents and high- school students, you are right to obsess over college. Tina Fey, continue your domestication process. These are among the depressing affirmations of this wan romantic comedy that picks up where "30 Rock" left off by surrounding Tina Fey, the comic actress and comedy role model, with a diverse demographic of kids, including at least one nonhuman: The movie milks the motherhood theme with such vigor it even requires Fey's character to help a distressed cow deliver her calf. (From "Bossypants" to bossy's midwife.) Fey plays an unmarried, childless "superstar" admissions counselor at Princeton who is a surrogate mother of sorts to a world of hopeful would-be Ivy Leaguers; Paul Rudd is a comically progressive local schoolteacher with an adopted son. He's as free-spirited, nomadic and earnest as the admissions counselor is button-down, stable and wary; think they'll meet in the middle? Directed by Paul Weitz, from the novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

Bartlett 10, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

The Big Wedding (R, 90 min.) A family reunion ensemble comedy with Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams and many more.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Paradiso, Summer Quartet Drive-In, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Company You Keep (R, 125 min.) HH A tougher film might have seemed provocatively relevant in the tragic context of the Boston Marathon attacks, but this wan look at the wrinkled radicals and weathered underground of the 1960s seems invested with a muted nostalgia for the good old days when bomb-tossing students looked like "Americans," had easy-to-pronounce names, and might grow up to be as clean cut as Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon: The revolutionaries next door, not the jihadists from overseas. In his ninth film as a director, Redford casts himself as an ex-radical with a phony identity who is forced to go on the run when he's exposed by a hotshot reporter (Shia LaBeouf); his old pals in protest include Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins and unapologetic outlaw Julie Christie, now running "good honest weed" off the coast of California.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Croods (PG, 98 min.) HH The humor's classic or prehistoric, depending on your tolerance for slapstick. The 3D animation is state of the art. And the life lessons are all too wearily contemporary in this energetic DreamWorks digital cartoon feature about some cave dwellers who are so Stone Age they make the Flintstones look like the Jetsons. Eep (voiced by Emma Stone) is the story's heroine and the audience's focus for identification, a brave as in "Brave" young rebel frustrated with her loving but overprotective dad, Grug (Nicolas Cage), and the Neolithic status quo that keeps her confined to the dark, dull security of a cave.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso, Stage Cinema.

Evil Dead (R, 91 min.) HH Shot in the backwoods of East Tennessee as barely more than a student project, neophyte director Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead" (1981) was a slapstick splatterfest made with enthusiasm and ingenuity as well as many gallons of Karo syrup blood formula; produced by the now-celebrated Raimi, this more elaborate yet unnecessary remake drops the "The" but increases the back story and the blood, which falls during the final act in a literal torrential downpour. Will the audience reject the red, or tilt back its head and drink it in to the point of drowning, like the proverbial turkey? Once again, a group of college friends are trapped in a haunted cabin in the woods; this time, the "final girl," Mia (Jane Levy), is ready for a fight: She's a junkie used to battling drug-spawned if not supernatural demons. As is the rule for modern horror movies, the violence and language are uglier than before, but the people are a lot prettier, at least until they begin mutilating themselves and each other with nail guns and electric carving blades; when a demon girl bifurcates her tongue with an X- ACTO knife, she gives vivid new meaning to the phrase "lickety- split."Directed by Uruguay's Fede Alvarez, making his feature debut.

CinePlanet 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

42 (PG-13, 128 min.) Chadwick Boseman is Jackie Robinson in this biopic about the Hall of Famer who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (PG-13, 110 min.) HH Tea Party paranoia about Obama's alien identity and fascist agenda apparently motivated this disappointing sequel, which pits the Joes against an impostor U.S. president (Jonathan Pryce) working for the evil forces of Cobra. Inspired by the Marvel-esque superhero-style 1980s additions to the traditional Hasbro toy line, the film has plenty of pulpy characters (Storm Shadow, a ninja; Firefly, an explosives expert), but it replaces the surprising fun of its 2009 predecessor with a distasteful firearms fetishism and high body count more suitable for an R-rated action film. It also introduces a pair of big names: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a Joe commando called Roadblock and Bruce Willis as the original G.I. Joe, proud owner of Patton's revolver and a "1776" access code to his well-stocked armory. The sci-fi gadgets are impressive, and the bravura ninja-vs.-ninja cliff battle deserves a spot in the Action Sequence Hall of Fame, but director Jon M. Chu otherwise delivers little of the gracefulness one expects from a graduate of the "Step Up" dance franchise.

Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Palace Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

A Good Day to Die Hard (R, 97 min.) HH "Do you know what I hate about the Americans? Everything." The fifth "Die Hard" movie offers no evidence to dispute this Russian villain's opinion, as arrogant, reckless New York police detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) does more damage to the former Soviet republic than a hailstorm of meteorites. Coming to the aid of his estranged CIA spy son (Jai Courtney), McClane destroys property, punches out innocents, tosses out names like "Nijinsky" and "Solzhenitsyn" as if they were insults and otherwise demonstrates that the Second Amendment is the only constitutional principle he respects.

Bartlett 10.

Home Run (PG-13, 113 min.) A faith-based baseball drama, with Scott Elrod and Vivica A. Fox.

Cordova Cinema.

The Host (PG-13, 125 min.) Alien invaders possess human minds. Based on the best-seller by Stephenie Meyer.

Bartlett 10.

Identity Thief (R, 111 min.) HH In supporting roles in "Bridesmaids" and other comedies, Melissa McCarthy has been a ruthless and unapologetic scene-stealer, so it's appropriate that her first feature-film star vehicle casts her as is a professional pilferer, pursued by drug dealers, a skip tracer (Robert Patrick) and the insecure Everyman (Jason Bateman) she befriends during a zany cross-country road trip.

Bartlett 10.

Iron Man 3 (PG-13, 130 min.) Robert Downey Jr. returns as Marvel's man of steel.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3- D), Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Jack the Giant Slayer (PG-13, 115 min.) HHH Ignore the unconscionable $200 million budget (how many thousands could have been saved by eliminating the CG giant booger scene?) and you may enjoy this comic-book/fairy-tale adventure about a plucky farm boy (Nicholas Hoult) and a pretty princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) carried by a fast-growing, tendrilous beanstalk to a land of man-eating giants in the clouds.

Bartlett 10.

Jurassic Park 3D (PG-13, 127 min.) HHHH Sentiment is explained by science as the family impulse that motivates so many Steven Spielberg stories is revealed to be an evolutionary imperative in this thrilling, near-perfect 1993 action-adventure; the dinosaur special effects, which combined new digital technology with then state-of-the-art live-action techniques, were groundbreaking yet remain unsurpassed. Sam Neill is the child-averse paleontologist who develops an appreciation for kids (Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello) as well as fossils; Laura Dern is the doc's (apparently eagerly fertile) collaborator/girlfriend; Jeff Goldblum is the witty scene- stealing "chaos" mathematician; and Richard Attenborough is the Disney/Frankenstein entrepreneur whose would-be island theme park of cloned dinosaurs becomes a nightmare. Based on a novel by Michael Crichton, the warning here is at least as old as the one W.W. Jacobs delivered in "The Monkey's Paw" (1902): You will be punished if you bring life to that which fate has decided should be dead. Yet the ultimate message is hopeful: "Life will find a way," even if it requires a Tyrannosaurus to become a pelican.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Mama (PG-13, 100 min.) HHH Jessica Chastain is the punk-rock girlfriend who becomes reluctant guardian to her injured boyfriend's disturbed and essentially feral nieces (rescued after five years in the woods) in this dark modern fairy tale from writer-director Andrs Muschietti and producer Guillermo del Toro.

Bartlett 10.

Mud (PG-13, 130 min.) HHH With references to Mark Twain, "Robinson Crusoe" and even "The Andy Griffith Show," the third and most elaborate feature to date from Arkansas writer-director Jeff Nichols has the feel of a classic, although it's perhaps not enthralling enough to be one. The movie seems to have been adapted from a novel that doesn't exist something by James Lee Burke, perhaps, or Cormac McCarthy, or some other specialist in frequently violent tales about the challenges to masculinity and the forging of new identities that face rural people who belong to a sprawling modern world who might be hanging out in a Piggly-Wiggly parking lot one moment and falling into a creekful of deadly cottonmouths the next. That actually happens to 14-year-old Ellis (Tye Sheridan), an emotionally vulnerable youth who befriends a gun-toting fugitive who calls himself Mud (Matthew McConaughey) -- a surrogate father figure with cross-shaped nails in his boots ("to ward off evil spirits") and a romantic back story about a lifelong true love (Reese Witherspoon). Somewhat overwritten and overmotivated, "Muds" is nevertheless very welcome: It's no Southern Gothic pastiche but a convincing portrait of a South rarely seen on-screen the South of Walmarts and water moccasins, of mussel divers and motor bikes, of hick accents and punk rock. "This way of life isn't long for this world," Ellis' father (Ray McKinnon) tells his son. What way of life is? The soundtrack includes band and solo work by Nichols' brother, Ben Nichols, frontman of the Memphis rock group Lucero.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Ridgeway Four.

Oblivion (PG-13, 126 min.) HHH It's 2077, and Tom Cruise is apparently the last man on Earth: a pilot/technician stationed with last woman Andrea Riseborough in a spectacular "Jetsons"-esque aerie, from which the duo protects the post-disaster planet's remaining resources from the dreaded "scavs," alien invaders that forced the rest of humankind to evacuate to a colony near Saturn. Writer-director Joseph Kosinski's derivative second feature (after "Tron: Legacy") is elevated by its beautiful design, its impressive landscapes (New York is buried in mud up to the Empire State Building's observation deck) and its somewhat mysterious, melancholy tone: The pilot's Yankees baseball cap and Elvis bobblehead are signs of his longing for a vanished, populated world. The action sequences are well-constructed, but forced: They're concessions to the marketplace, and they interfere with the movie's true interest in the routine rather than the extremes of postapocalyptic survival. The slick lensing is by the master of screen saver cinematography, Claudio Miranda (Oscar-winner for "Life of Pi.")

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Olympus Has Fallen (R, 117 min.) HH America is emasculated when terrorists knock the tip off the Washington Monument during an attack on the nation's capital; lucky for us, he-man Gerard Butler, cast as a Secret Service agent in need of redemption, is nearby to inject testosterone into the body politic and some knives into the bad guys' necks. Basically "Die Hard in the White House," the film is an attempt to exorcise the trauma of 9/11 through a symbolic re- enactment with a more pleasing outcome; director Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day") delivers many inflammatory shots of a bullet- riddled flag, but we know Old Glory will rise again. Part 1970s disaster movie (check out the all-star cast) and part 1980s Cannon Group gung-ho action flick, it's also the second film in less than four months (after "Red Dawn") to imagine a North Korean invasion of the U.S., and camp "patriotic" highlights are many: Butler uses an Oval Office Lincoln bust to crush a Korean skull, and Secretary of Defense Melissa Leo yells out the Pledge of Allegiance as she's dragged away for torture. With Aaron Eckhart as the President and Ashley Judd as the First Lady; the Speaker of the House is Morgan Freeman, apparently hired so we can hear that famous voice intone, at a moment of potential nuclear calamity: "You've just opened the gates of hell."

Collierville Towne 16, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Oz the Great and Powerful (PG, 131 min.) HH Derived from the novels of L. Frank Baum but motivated by the popularity of MGM's "The Wizard of Oz," Disney's would-be franchise-igniter presented as an unofficial prequel to the 1939 movie contains exciting witch battles, the memorably emotional introduction of a literally fragile character (a living china doll, voiced by Joey King) and the fun pop touches one expects from director Sam Raimi, including monster flowers that might have sprouted from "The Evil Dead" and a friendly flying monkey (voiced by Zach Braff) whose bellhop uniform is an homage to the nattily garbed scene-stealing capuchins of Three Stooges and Our Gang shorts. Unfortunately, the candy-colored, largely computer-created film cheapens the achievements of the feminist Baum and the memory of Judy Garland: It's as much a man- flattering parable of androgen entitlement as one of those 1950s B- movies in which the presence of a hunky All-American astronaut disrupts the order of an extraterrestrial Amazon society. Deposited in Oz by a Kansas twister, the wizard (a smirky James Franco) is a fraudulent womanizer, yet the beautiful, powerful witch sisters Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams) accept him as a savior and are so smitten that Theodora turns literally Margaret Hamilton green with jealousy. The hackneyed message is about the importance of "belief," but in what? The idea that even the most talented and impressive women should move aside if a man wants to be in charge?

CinePlanet 16, Cordova Cinema.

Pain & Gain (R, 130 min.) Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Anthony Mackie are bodybuilders turned kidnappers in a relatively small ($26 million) movie from "Transformers"/ "Armageddon" Gargantua Michael Bay.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.

The Place Beyond the Pines (R, 140 min.) Ryan Gosling is a motorcycle stunt-rider turned bank robber and Bradley Cooper a rookie cop in the latest from writer-director Derek Cianfrance ("Blue Valentine").

Ridgeway Four.

Safe Haven (PG-13, 115 min.) HH Can an incognito fugitive beauty (Julianne Hough) on the run from a psycho cop husband (David Lyons) find happiness with a hunky widower (Josh Duhamel) with two cute kids while working as a crab-shack waitress in a small Southern town? Does Nicholas Sparks write best-sellers? Slickly directed by Lasse Hallstrm and beautifully lensed (in Southport, N.C.) by Terry Stacey, this latest Sparks adaptation should please audiences seeking wish-fulfillment romantic fantasy; the new love depicted here is so pure and true it even receives supernatural endorsement. With literal fireworks and former Memphian and Elvis crony Red West as a twinkle-eyed codger; the only thing missing is a golden retriever.

Paradiso.

Scary Movie 5 (PG-13, 85 min.) The now-Anna Faris-free horror- spoof franchise rises from the grave after a seven-year hibernation.

CinePlanet 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Side Effects (R, 106 min.) HH Director/editor/cinematographer Steven Soderbergh's alleged final theatrical film is as smart and stylish as one would expect, but like his other recent artsy genre essays "Haywire," "Contagion" its duller than its sources (in this case, "Bigger Than Life," "Basic Instinct" and "Psycho"). Promoted as a pharma-thriller, the story (credited to Scott Z. Burns) proves more pulpy than topical as psychiatrist Jude Law is dragged into a murder case that involves an antidepressant-addled somnambulist (Rooney Mara), her regretful insider-trader husband (Channing Tatum) and an almost comically buttoned-down and bespectacled therapist (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Soderbergh's love of cinema is evidenced through his sleek lensing (somehow, the New York surfaces seem as shiny as snakeskin) and his apparent glee in constructing sequences that distract the viewer from the increasing implausibility of the narrative; but the twists become tiresome, and increasingly predictable. Even so, we'll miss Soderbergh's honesty: He remains almost unique among American filmmakers for his refusal to ignore or reduce the importance of money as a key motivating force for people's actions.

Bartlett 10.

Silver Linings Playbook (R, 122 min.) HHH Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence.

Bartlett 10.

Snitch (PG-13, 112 min.) HHH Presented as an actor first, impressive physical specimen second, Dwayne Johnson who has banished his more famous professional-wrestling alias, "The Rock," from his movie credits stars as a distraught construction-company owner who deceives his employees, endangers his wife and makes a Faustian bargain with self-interested politicians to save his 18- year-old son from a prison sentence. This is the rare modern crime drama that takes place in a recognizable world, where violence, when it erupts, is a thing of consequence, not just spectacle.

Bartlett 10.

21 & Over (R, 93 min.) Bad-influence buddies transform a promising medical student's 21st birthday celebration into a comedic bacchanal.

Bartlett 10.

Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (PG- 13, 111 min.) Now, that's a movie title. Kim Kardashian and Brandy are caught up in the drama.

DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Wreck-It Ralph (PG) HHH Video game avatars come to life.

Bartlett 10.

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