Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
Schoolgirls go wild in skillful, but implausible psycho-thriller 'Cracks'
Hot on the muddy, moor-encrusted boots of Jane Eyre comes a new film about English boarding school girls from a potentially bright new talent. Jordan Scott (daughter of Ridley, niece of Tony) makes an assured and skillful feature film debut with Cracks, a psychological melodrama of illusion, identity, festering passions, and emotional mayhem-most-British at a staid girls boarding school in the English countryside.
Scott co-wrote the script with Ben Court and Caroline Ip, adapted from the controversial, experimental 2000 novel by Sheila Kohler. With its impressive production values, and scrupulously maintained period ambience (ca. 1934), this is a compelling mood piece that draws the viewer into the peculiar, hothouse sensibility of females cloistered away together deep in the country.
This one’s a keeper. A film that has smatterings of What The Bleep Do We Know? yet manages to tell a more relatable story you can’t help but admire. Most of that is due to its filmmaker, Tom Shadyac (bottom photo; Bruce Almighty, The Nutty Professor, Ace Ventura), a likeable if not fiercely devoted chap who offers us something we can really sink our teeth into: an interesting personal mission/vision quest. “Facing my own death brought an instant sense of clarity and purpose,” Shadyac tells viewers of his impetus behind venturing out into the world to ask significant minds what’s actually wrong with it—and what we can do about it. “We’re all interconnected,” the filmmaker soon realizes. Whether you believe it’s true or not, you can’t help but drink some of this Kool-Aid and walk away feeling inspired. Shadyac doesn’t simply go on to prove that point for the sake of being right, he allows us to experience his discoveries in a way that doesn’t feel overly manipulating.
Fukunaga crafts meticulous, vibrant new 'Jane Eyre'
Rising filmmaker (and UC Santa Cruz grad) Cary Joji Fukunaga wants to keep you guessing. His impressive first feature, Sin Nombre, was a gritty look at gang violence south of the border—in Spanish, yet. With his follow-up film, a new version of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte's evergreen Victorian-era romance, not only does Fukunaga achieve a complete about-face, material-wise, his retelling proves to be a deeply felt, beautifully wrought little gem of mood and sensibility.
‘Of Gods and Men' unravels a powerful, true tale of Monks courageously fighting evil
Anyone curious about the monastic life need seek no further than the French drama, Of Gods and Men. A great deal of screen time is devoted to the daily routines and rituals of a small household of French Christian monks embedded within a largely Islamic mountain community in North Africa. But while director Xavier Beauvois lingers over their cloistered life of prayer, work and study behind the monastery walls, the film gradually expands into a larger story of courage, commitment, and community as the peaceful brothers are drawn into a brutal war between a corrupt government and its terrorist opponents.
Modern film crew repeats history's mistakes in the gripping new film, 'Even the Rain'
History repeats itself in alarming, ironic, and yet inevitable ways in the adroit Spanish drama Even the Rain. This story of a modern Spanish movie crew descending on a remote Bolivian town to shoot a historical film exposing Christopher Columbus' mistreatment of the indigenous people in the New World becomes a textured, multi-layered study of the many guises of exploitation.
The film is directed with wit and intensity by Icíar Bollaín, a renowned Spanish film actress who has segued into a career behind the camera. Screenwriter Paul Laverty, longtime collaborator with English social realism director Ken Loach on films like My Name Is Joe and The Wind That Shakes the Barley, lived in Central America for three years, working for a human rights organization. Bollaín and Laverty met during the shoot of Loach's Spanish Civil War drama Land and Freedom. Together, they craft a wry and gripping tale that suggests how little things have changed in 500 years.