Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
Stunning prehistoric art highlights 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams'
Werner Herzog explores two of his favorite themes in his stunning new documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams: human obsessions, and the forbidding grandeur of Nature. Understand, the film itself is not all that exceptional; some crucial factual details apparently don't interest Herzog enough to include them, and we are treated to some of the director's offbeat ruminations that prove more bewildering than profound. However, the subject of the film is stunning, a recently discovered, 30,000-year-old cave buried under a massive rockslide in rural France that contains the earliest known wall paintings made by human hands.
Cheeky Spurlock doc not quite 'Greatest Movie Ever Sold'
Morgan Spurlock had an interesting concept for the movie that has become POM Wonderful Presents; The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. The documentary filmmaker whose popular Super Size Me established both Spurlock himself and his particular genre of stunt-activist films as a brand unto itself decided this time to explore the shadow world of what was once called "product placement"—the system by which corporations pay to have their products displayed onscreen in films and TV shows.
Pioneers head for nowhere in undeveloped 'Meek's Cutoff'
How far can you blame an artist for trying to do something artistic? Even if the resulting work doesn't play out the way one hopes, an artist deserves some grudging respect for pursuing a particular vision. Take Kelly Reichardt, who makes small, personal films set in Oregon, in which nothing much happens. In Old Joy, two former buddies find they have little to talk about any more on a weekend hiking trip into the Cascades. In Wendy and Lucy, a young woman adrift between jobs loses her dog.
Like these films, Reichardt's latest, Meek's Cutoff, is scrupulously composed, full of respect for the natural world, and concerned with minute, almost non-verbal relationships. It, too, is set in the Pacific Northwest, but unlike Reichardt's previous films, this is a historical drama in the Oregon Territory of 150 years ago.
Soulful pachyderm steals hearts in 'Water For Elephants'
OK, I admit it: I'm one of the few people alive who did not read Sara Gruen's mega-bestselling novel about passion and mayhem under the Big Top during the Depression 1930s. But it's possible to detect the bones of a satisfying romantic suspense story within Francis Lawrence's evocative film adaptation of Water For Elephants.
Santa Cruzan native Pia Helm co-produces a movie at the Santa Cruz Fim Festival
In true Santa Cruz fashion, the movie, Night of the Alien, playing at the Santa Cruz Film Festival, revolves around themes of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, not to mention the psychedelic and supernatural. The movie was written and directed by Vaughn Verdi and co-produced by Pia Helm, who grew up in Santa Cruz. Night of the Alien is a micro-budget film about a mind-bending compilation of strange occurrences all in an effort to save the world.
A mash-up of many different cinematic genres, Helm claims the movie was once described by Verdi as, “The Hangover meets Starman somewhere in the Twilight Zone.” It goes like this: A group of stoners and pill-poppers are convinced by a hitchhiking alien from the planet Zoltran to go on a mission to save Earth by creating a band to win American Idol. Throughout the film, the characters are constantly high or drugged out, begging the question: Is all the action in the movie a consequence of their hallucinations or is it a reality?