Opening Friday, Aug. 28, is The Final Destination, the fourth installment of the franchise, wherein Nick O'Bannon (Bobby Campo) has a premonition about a horrible series of events that will kill his friends, including girlfriend Lori (Shantel VanSanten). Since his visions have a way of coming true, it's time to get out of Dodge. Rated R for strong violent/gruesome accidents, language and a scene of sexuality. 82m. At the Broadway (3D and 2D), Mill Creek and Fortuna.
Halloween II (also known as H2) is a sequel to director Rob Zombie's 2007 remake of Halloween. This film focuses on Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton, reprising her role) as she attempts to deal with the return of not-so-nice Michael Myers (Tyler Mane). It turns out they are closer than she suspects. With Myers for a last name, it can't be good. Also featuring Malcolm McDowell. Rated R for strong brutal bloody violence throughout, terror, disturbing graphic images, language, and some crude sexual content and nudity. 101m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
Ang Lee takes stock (sort of) of the iconic music festival in Taking Woodstock. In his comic look at the festival, it seems it was all enabled by a guy (Elliot Tiber, who wrote the book the film is based on) trying to save his parent's motel in the Catskills. Who knew? Rated R for graphic nudity, some sexual content, drug use and language. 110m. At Broadway and the Minor.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. Ever since Pulp Fiction hit the screens, I've been a committed Quentin Tarantino fan. His hallmark style of black humor, French New Wave-like self-referentiality, offbeat editing and composition and clever use of film history hit me just right back in 1994. All of these qualities are on display in Inglourious Basterds -- certainly his best film since Pulp Fiction and arguably his best work to date after some missteps, including Grindhouse.
Set in Nazi occupied France in 1944 -- after the allies have landed on French shores but not yet reached Paris -- the film is an alternate history that combines two plot lines. One strand follows the exploits of the "Basterds," a small group of Jewish-American soldiers led by Lt. Aldo Raine (a very funny Brad Pitt) who ambushes German patrols, kills the soldiers and takes their scalps. The other strand follows Shosanna Dreyfus (a wonderful Mélanie Laurent), a young French Jewish woman who owns a cinema in Paris under an assumed name and has specific reasons to hate the Nazis.
The two strands combine when both she and the Basterds conceive a plot to destroy the German high command (including Hitler) when they all attend a premiere of a German film at her theatre in a beautifully orchestrated and suspenseful climactic sequence. Standing in the way of both plots is the deliciously sadistic Col. Hans Landa (Christopher Waltz in a brilliant performance).
The perfectly accomplished opening sequence sets the tone for the film as we see Col. Landa (known as the "Jew Hunter") interrogating a French dairy farmer suspected of harboring a Jewish family. Tarantino lets the scene play out at a leisurely pace and Landa, who gets a chance to show off his language skills, carries the scene brilliantly as he breaks down the farmer. This is also where we first see Shosanna, who is the only member of the family to escape the slaughter when Landa doesn't take a shot as she flees into the woods.
In fact, it is surprising how much of the film consists of conversations rather than action sequences. Tarantino clearly trusted his actors and they rewarded that trust.
As usual with Tarantino, the film is chock-full of film references, all pertinent to the story -- from a soundtrack nod to Sergio Leone, to the mélange of movie posters on the wall at the cinema, to the presence of German silent film star Emil Jannings (best known here for his role in The Blue Angel) as a character.
With his over-the-top Southern accent, Pitt is both effective and amusing as Lt. Raine, but Waltz steals the film and I found myself waiting for his appearances, which does unbalance the film somewhat.
The climactic scene at the cinema, with both Shosanna and the Basterds separately plotting the destruction of the guffawing Nazis in the auditorium, along with an unexpected development with Col. Landa, is a tour de force, comparable to the climactic scene at the orchestra hall in Hitchcock's 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much.
And the nice thing about alternative history is that you get to write the ending you want. Popular filmmaking doesn't get any better than this. Highly recommended, with the usual caveat about Tarantino's sometimes graphic depiction of violence. Rated R for strong graphic violence, language and brief sexuality. 153m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, Minor and Fortuna.
POST GRAD. Toward the end of Post Grad, our heroine's sexy next door Brazilian neighbor, who has decided to return to his native country, tells her that he's discovered that what you do in life is only one half of what's important; the other half is who you do it with. That started a whole train of thought for me (my first while watching this film). Suppose who you do it with -- life-wise, that is -- is more than one person. Does that mean that the who part of this equation becomes only 25%, or even less, depending on the number of whos (What is the plural here anyway?) that are participating in the what? This meaningful speculation more or less occupied me through the end of the film (particularly since the end credits were aborted); too bad the line didn't occur sooner.
How else can I describe this film experience? Well, let's say that if it were any blander it would have been an hour and a half of white screen. I can't think of a single second of surprise here, from the obvious opening that sets up a series of setbacks for Ryden Malby (our heroine, played by an irritatingly perky and terminally cute Alexis Bledel) to the telegraphed ending that wore out its welcome 50 films ago.
So what do we have here? It seems Ryden is graduating from college with an English major and has Great Expectations of landing a job with a major publishing house in L.A. She is being emotionally supported by long-time friend Adam Davies (Zach Gilford, a breath of fresh air) who wishes to be more than a friend. She doesn't get the job, moves back in with her pathetic family, makes out with Pele from next door and, leading to the Serious Scene, alienates Adam, who goes off to Columbia Law School. Then she gets the job, but realizes thanks to her neighboring Brazilian hunk that her priorities are screwed up (see beginning of review), and.... Well, if you're either confused or intrigued by this summary, you might want to check out the ending for yourself.
The only bright note in the film is Gilford (from the very talented young cast of TV's Friday Night Lights), who manages to make something of his poorly written role. I do think that Bledel is better than she shows here. Maybe she'll find a good writer and director someday. Rated PG-13 for sexual situations and brief strong language. 89m. At the Broadway.
500 DAYS OF SUMMER. Tom is dumped by Summer, causing him to reflect on their 500 days together. Rated PG-13. 100m. At Broadway.
DISTRICT 9. What will humanity do with the aliens of South Africa? Rated R. 120m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, Minor and Fortuna.
G-FORCE. Government-trained guinea pigs out to save the world. With the voices of Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz. Rated PG. 90m. At the Broadway.
G.I. JOE. Elite military squad kicks ass all over the world, with the aid of their super-suits. Rated PG-13. 120m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
GOODS. Hedonistic hotshot car sales team (D. Piven, E. Helms, V. Rhames) descends upon ailing dealership. One turns sap, falls in love. Rated R. 89m. At the Movies.
THE HANGOVER. Getting severely trashed with your bros at a Vegas-based bachelor party can have serious consequences, especially when no one remembers what happened. Rated R. 100m. At The Movies.
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE. The Hogwarts boy wizard saga continues. Don't mess with Voldemort. Rated PG. 153m. At The Movies and Mill Creek.
ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS. The gang makes a rescue mission for Sid that takes them into a mysterious underground world where they have close encounters with dinos and generally run amuck. Rated PG. 87 m. At The Movies.
JULIE & JULIA. Two chicks for the price of a flick! N. Ephron intersperses Julia Child biopic with tale of bored 30-something New Yorker seeking inspiration. Rated PG-13. 123m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.
PERFECT GETAWAY. Hawaii honeymoon turns sour when talk of island newlywed-killer surfaces. Rated R. 98m. At The Movies.
THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. Clare continues to love Henry despite his genetic time traveling problem. With Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. 120m. At Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN. Once again, Sam Witwicky finds himself in the middle of the war between the Autobots and the Decipticons with the fate of the universe at stake. Rated PG-13. 151m. At The Movies.
THE UGLY TRUTH. A romantically challenged morning show producer is reluctantly embroiled in a series of outrageous tests by her chauvinistic correspondent to prove his theories on relationships and help her find love. Rated R. 97m. At The Movies.