Opening Friday, Aug. 21, Quentin Tarantino strikes again with Inglourious Basterds, an alternate history "spaghetti western" World War II epic. In France, a young Jewish woman seeks revenge for the death of her parents by the Nazis while an American lieutenant (Brad Pitt) leads raids on the Germans. With Diane Kruger, Mike Myers and Eli Roth. Rated R for strong graphic violence, language and brief sexuality. 153m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, Minor and Fortuna.
In the comedy Post Grad, Alexis Bledel stars as a college graduate who moves back in with her parents when she is unable to find a job. Rated PG-13 for sexual situations and brief strong language. 89m. At the Broadway.
Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, Shorts is a family film about a young boy who discovers a rock that grants wishes. If only it were that easy. Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor. 89m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
X Games 3D: The Movie is a sports documentary that goes behind the scenes at the yearly X Games events, featuring Shaun White, Travis Pastrana and others. Rated PG for extreme sports action and accidents. 92m. At the Broadway and Fortuna.
THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE*: The Time Traveler's Wife* is not a terrible film, but it does tilt toward the bland and weepie area of movie aesthetics.
Given the popularity of Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 novel, many people are familiar with the premise. It seems that Chicago librarian Henry (the ruggedly handsome Eric Bana) time-travels whenever he feels stress, which is apparently often, and he has no control over his travels. And, as in the Terminator films, clothes are not part of the travel ensemble so Henry is constantly breaking into places to suit up.
Somehow, though, he is able to form a romantic attachment with artist Clare (Rachel McAdams) whom he first meets, at least chronologically, when she is but six and a bit surprised to find a naked man lurking in the bushes. Eventually, Henry, who is constantly haunted by his mother's (a fine Michelle Nolden) death when he was just a boy, and Rachel get married.
The time traveling device allows the narrative structure to jump back and forth in time, and Henry's constant disappearances put an understandable strain on the relationship with Clare. But finally, the film is just another Hollywood romantic comedy gussied up with a gimmick. There's nothing wrong with the cast, though; both Bana and McAdams are attractive screen presences with reasonable chemistry. I'm not sure why McAdams was so heavily made up; she doesn't need it and it revealed nothing about her character. I hope the book was better. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity and sexuality. 107m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.
(500) DAYS OF SUMMER*: (500) Days of Summer* may or may not be a love story, but what does describe it is endlessly entertaining and pleasingly quirky. The very interesting and somewhat offbeat acting by leads Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel is partly responsible for the film's feel, but so is the non-chronological narration and fable-like quality of the storytelling.
What the film is not is a traditional love story; rather, it's a film about the possibility and limitations of love, if indeed that word means anything at all.
Summer's (Deschanel) character is established early on. As we watch her cut off her long hair, the narrator tells us that Summer only loves two things: her long hair and how little she feels when she cuts it off. Tom (Gordon-Levitt), on the other hand, thinks he will eventually meet "the one."
Tom and Summer's unlikely relationship is told by relating events on seemingly random days between 1 and 500. The film and its soundtrack have an indie feel while Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt, with their note-perfect acting, make the perfect foils for this romance. Along with the narrator, Tom's two male buddies serve as sort of unreliable chorus commenting on Tom's choices, while the chronology keeps the viewer wondering how everything happened. Not to give away the ending, but it starts with Day 1. Rated PG-13 for sexual material and language. 95m. At the Broadway.
THE HURT LOCKER: Kathryn Bigelow's (Near Dark; Point Break) very impressive film The Hurt Locker may be the best film about war I have seen. Actually, "about war" is not accurate -- the film focuses exclusively on a very detailed examination of a few members of an Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit performing their daily activities in Baghdad during the post-invasion of Iraq.
The larger picture is entirely absent as the film focuses on the physical and emotional toll exacted on members of the unit. Written by Mark Boal, who was embedded with a bomb squad in Iraq, the film is based on recently declassified documents. These facts may help explain the film's feel of authenticity, but the gritty quality is expertly conveyed through Bigelow's effective use of the close-up, the subtle use of a hand-held camera and editing that kept me tense for the entire film.
The story centers on Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty, We Are Marshall), Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie, Tupac Shakur in Notorious) and Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner, 28 Days Later; The Assassination of Jesse James), who joins the EOD unit in the last 39 days of its rotation following the death of one of its members.
James turns out to be a total wild card, and his teammates becomes enmeshed in his chaotic energy through a series of missions. As the tour winds down, Bigelow abruptly cuts to James looking lost in a grocery store shopping with his wife (Evangeline Lilly). That night, he "tells" his infant son that as you get older the number of things you love become fewer, sometimes just one. The end of the film shows James disembarking in Iraq -- days in rotation: 365. I can't imagine a more telling comment. Rated R for war violence and language. 131m. At the Minor.
DISTRICT 9: Neill Blomkamp's District 9 is an intriguing science fiction/political allegory film set in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is based on the short film Alive in Joburg, directed by Blomkamp and others, and tells the story of a space ship that suddenly appears above the city in 1982. When nothing happens for three years, humans break into the ship and discover malnourished aliens that are subsequently housed in a camp called District 9, which gradually becomes a slum.
The main story begins in 2010 when the aliens, called "prawns," are to be forcibly relocated by Multi-National United (MNU), a private company. Clearly the story has political parallels to our actual world. The film begins and ends as a "documentary" with the main story a straightforward narrative.
The story centers on Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), who is head of the relocation task force, and one particular "prawn" and his son. The interaction between these three and Wikus' genetic transformation following an accident with alien liquid is what makes the story so interesting and sets the film a little apart from the action film it often is. In the end, it transpires that being human isn't just a matter of genetics. Rated R for bloody violence and pervasive language. 112m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, Minor and Fortuna.
BANDSLAM. Teen battle of the bands! Rated PG. 111m. At the Broadway.
FUNNY PEOPLE. The Apatow factory's intergenerational, poignancy-ridden take on professional comedians. Send in the clowns! Rated R. 146m. At The Movies and Mill Creek.
G-FORCE. Government-trained guinea pigs out to save the world. With the voices of Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz. 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, Minor 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 Broadway and Mill Creek.
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. 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.
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.