Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
‘Cherry Bombed’ indeed. An inside look at the new film ‘The Runaways’ and why Fanning considers morphing into ’70s rocker Cherie Currie the role of a lifetime.
French kissing a girl? Prancing around scantily clad on stage crooning savage rock songs? Morphing into a sex kitten?
Hello -- is this the Dakota Fanning we have all come to know and love?
Yes... and no.
Fanning, who warmed hearts in films like I Am Sam and The Secret Lives of Bees, morphs into uber rock chick Cherie Currie in the new film The Runaways. The ambitious saga chronicles the rise of the famed girl band of the same name and, eventually, the fall of Currie, the band's lead crooner who was caught in an avalanche of fame alongside Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West and Jackie Fox in the mid-'70s.
Brutal: Prison breeds a master criminal in 'A Prophet'
A French-Arabian youth with little education and no particular religion falls in with a bad crowd. Although he tries to work hard and stay out of trouble, he is literally forced into criminal activities in which the risks and the consequences are dire in the extreme. Lives (his own and others) are at stake every time he's faced with a new decision. How he learns to navigate this volatile minefield of crime and punishment is at the harrowing heart of Jacques Audiard's violent suspense thriller A Prophet (Un Prophéte). The twist is, the young protagonist's entire extensive education in the criminal underworld occurs within a French prison, after he's jailed on a charge so petty, it's never even mentioned.
A cantankerous old widower defies the authorities and makes one last, spectacular play to keep the old homestead he's in danger of losing. It may sound a lot like Pixar's Oscar-winning cartoon feature Up, but rookie filmmaker Scott Teems' That Evening Sun, a live-action meditation on loneliness and redemption, establishes a compelling, somewhat astringent personality all its own. Adapted from a short story by William Gay, the film is blessed with a superb performance by Hal Holbrook.
Burton follows Carroll down the rabbit hole in a funny, engaging 'Alice in Wonderland'
The better you know the Alice books of Lewis Carroll, the more you'll appreciate Tim Burton's winsome and nutty remix, Alice In Wonderland. Instead of rehashing of the familiar children's story, Burton and scriptwriter Linda Woolverton borrow elements from both classic Carroll books, "Alice In Wonderland," and "Through The Looking Glass," then dare to imagine an entirely new story populated by Carroll's enduring fantasy characters.
Burton and collaborator Woolverton (she wrote the marvelous script for Disney's Beauty And the Beast) understand what makes the books so much fun—deadpan, Seinfeld-like conversations about the minutiae of life, the usefulness (or not) of language, silly plays on words, and the stubborn pragmatism of resourceful little Alice in a world gone cheerfully mad. Staying true to this antic, anarchic spirit, they fashion a funny, girl-empowering saga that is often Carroll's equal in drollery.
Will twice the nominees be boon or bust at 2010 Oscars?
A funny thing happened on the way to this year's Academy Awards ceremony. The Academy decided to open up its nominating process to 10 films, instead of the usual five. Who (besides Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, who will reap twice the revenue from "For your consideration …" ads), is this new policy designed to benefit? Well, the Academy, mainly, suffering from charges of elitism for failing to include more popular, crowd-pleasing titles among its most august list of Best Picture nominees in recent years. This was kind of a surprise to some of us pointy-heads who thought the Academy's recent trend toward more interesting, independent films was sort of a good thing. (Big box-office movies have big box-office receipts to console them.) After all, you don't have to go too far back in the last decade to find movies like Gladiator and Lord of The Rings: Return of the King—not exactly popularity wallflowers— not only nominated, but waltzing off with the whole Oscar enchilada.
‘North Face’ is a brutal, compelling moutaineering saga
It’s ironic that the mountain-climbing movie North Face should arrive in the wake of the Winter Olympics. Sure, German filmmaker Philipp Stolzl’s gripping dramatization of a true story begins like one of those “inspirational” athletic movies about the indomitable human spirit in the face of impossible odds. There’s plenty of camaraderie and suspense as fresh-faced youths test their mettle against a ferocious opponent—in this case, the notorious north face of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps. There’s even a decorous hint of romance. But as the incidents in Stolzl’s film become more harrowing, and the truly operatic scope of the drama is revealed, viewers start to realize we’re not in Hollywood any more, Toto.