Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
Chimp experiment reveals human foibles in smart doc 'Project Nim'
In 1973, some research scientists at Columbia University got a bright idea. They decided to raise an infant chimpanzee like a child, in the home of a human family, to see if it would be possible to teach him to communicate with sign language at the same rate that a human child learns language. "Wouldn't it be great if we could find out what a chimp was thinking?" they wondered. “Wouldn't it be a breakthrough in human-animal communication?”
Project Nim, the absorbing, often infuriating, always provocative new documentary about this chimp experiment poses another, equally compelling question: just how clueless does human science have to be?
Entertaining 'Captain America' fights foes with '40s flair
Sure, you're fed up with comic book superhero movies. Who isn't? But if someone holds a gun to your head and forces you to see one, you could do a lot worse than Captain America: The First Avenger. What makes this one stand out is its fidelity to its source material, and the era that produced it—the 1940s, when America was the last hope of the free world, the war against evil was considered just, and the favorite pulp reading matter of kids were still called comic books (not graphic novels).
Working from a clever script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, director Joe Johnston works the comic book aesthetic for all it's worth: shiny period cars, sexy dames, tough, red-blooded fighting men.
Final Potter film, 'Deathly Hallows 2,' emotional and fulfilling
ith series veterans David Yates (directing his fourth Potter film) and Steve Kloves (screenwriter on all but one) at the helm, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 does its damnedest to honor all the complex subtexts of J. K. Rowling's books. And they fare surprisingly well, serving up one of the most thrilling, yet elegiac films in the series. It's not a complete success, but the conscientious mix of action, humor, and emotional backstory will leave most Potter fans fulfilled.
Wayne Wang crafts a heartfelt and respectful adaptation of the Lisa See novel, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” giving us an absorbing glimpse into Chinese culture of 200 years ago, especially the oppression of women in society, and the intensity of female friendships. But the movie never resonates in the one place that counts—in the heart. While often slow-moving onscreen, the breathlessness with which Wang orchestrates his busy narrative (marriages, births, deaths, a Typhoid epidemic, political uprising) never gives the characters or the viewer time to stop and feel anything about them. (And dialogue like, "The rebellion is coming!" doesn't help much, either.)
'Buck' advocates empathy in animal-training and life
How is training horses like life? In just about every way possible, according to the Tao of Buck Brannaman, the self-effacing hero and subject of Buck, an engaging and evocative documentary from filmmaker Cindy Meehl. A modern-day cowboy on the road nine months out of every year conducting four-day horse-training clinics all across the American west, Buck doesn't dispense folksy wisdom, nor indulge in any New Agey, touchy-feely palaver, so much as he talks plain common sense to troublesome horses and their owners. "I don't help people with horse problems," Buck reflects. "I help horses with people problems."