Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
Ideas, not action, drive wry Romanian cop drama ‘Police, Adjective'
If you expect a lot of shootouts and car chases from your police dramas, if you can't imagine a crime investigation that's not an action thriller, then Police, Adjective is not for you. Low-key in the extreme, this police drama from Romania unfolds at such a glacial pace, it often recalls those experimental Warhol movies of the '60s which were all about the depiction of absolutely nothing. But viewers willing to pay attention and get into its slow, spare, real-life, real-time rhythm will discover a sly black comedy from director Corneliu Poromboiu, depending more on a gradually building intensity of ideas than conventional action.
Twenty is a sexy age—even for a film festival. Fortunately for San Jose, Cinequest has never looked better—both onscreen and off. Actually, the revered celluloid soiree, which hits its 20-year marker this week, has managed to produce one of the most impressive outings in the Bay Area this season. More than 200 film screenings roll out, among them about 76 U.S. and World and premieres from 45 countries. The fest also honors "Maverick" filmmakers and innovators. Speaking of, mark your calendar and clear you Sixth Chakra: Deepak Chopra—yes, the Deepak—is being honored with a "Life of a Maverick Award" at 7pm Tuesday, March 2 at San Jose's California Theatre. Interesting to note is that Chopra has penned the script for "The Sadhu," which is under development—the film is based on the comic book series
'Last Station' is a smart, gripping tale of Tolstoy's final years
The great thing about The Last Station is that it doesn't take sides. This lightly fictionalized story of Leo Tolstoy in his twilight years, beset by public and domestic discord, is rife with polarizing issues: poverty vs. wealth, communal life vs. privilege, religious doctrine vs. personal freedom, male vs. female. But as characters are revealed and their relationships entwine, filmmaker Michael Hoffman refuses to condemn anyone or tell the audience what to think. Instead, his smart, gripping film provides a sprawling and juicy canvas of life in all its messy contradictions.
Hoffman adapted the film from the novel by Jay Parini, which was inspired by private diaries kept by several witnesses in Tolstoy's household during his later years. In Hoffman's film, this busy narrative is pared down to single viewpoint from which the rest of the story unspools, that of Valentin Bulgakov (solid, earnest James McAvoy), an innocent, awestruck young writer hired on as Tolstoy's new personal secretary.
The subject of the film is Charles Darwin, but don't go expecting high seas adventure in exotic ports on board the naturalist's famous research ship, the Beagle. What director Jon Amiel delivers instead is Creation, a mild-mannered, at times claustrophobic, yet moving period family drama about the effect of Darwin's radical theories of evolution on his family life, and vice versa. Scripted by John Collee (best known for his intricate screenwriting on Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World), the film is based on the biographical book "Annie's Box: Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution." Written by Randal Keynes (Darwin's great, great grandson), using a wealth of private family documents, the book focuses on the difficult period during which Darwin produced—and almost failed to produce—his groundbreaking book, "On The Origin Of Species."
Banff Mountain Film Festival unleashes daring movies at the Rio Theatre
Go climb a rock. Or at least watch a movie about people who climb rocks, and put their lives at risk for fun, by catching the Banff Mountain Film Festival at 7 p.m. on Feb. 26 and 27 at the Rio Theatre. The thrill ride of a festival is back once again to woo adventurers with a series of short films that are inspiring, jaw-dropping, and feature feats that are beyond your imagination. Sporting a fantastic lineup of films, two of the ‘scene stealers’ are the films Finding Farley and First Ascent: The Impossible Climb. The latter stars Santa Cruz’s own spectacular rock climber Chris Sharma, who scales perhaps the world’s most difficult rock climb, and Finding Farley explores the aquatic journey of a couple, their toddler, and their dog as they travel down bodies of water in search of a legendary writer who did a similar trip long ago. Here’s a quick run-down of these two highlighted films.
Disturbingly beautiful 'White Ribbon' ponders the nature of evil
Where does evil come from? Is it sheer, blind chance, an unfortunate genetic malfunction, a random fluke of an uncaring universe? Or is it seeded and grown like a living thing, to be rooted and nurtured in a particular hothouse environment of intolerance and injustice, malice, brutality and fear? Filmmaker Michael Haneke invites us to consider this question in The White Ribbon, his disturbingly beautiful drama that imagines life in a remote German village in the generation before Hitler's rise to power. More complex than a simple parable, it's a stately piece of dramatic fiction with the dread-generating intensity of a horror movie.